We are at the NBA Finals, where one of these teams will hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy. There are several storylines to follow in this series — Will the Warriors continue their recent dynasty? Will the Celtics finish their epic second-half turnaround? Is there simmering animosity over the Steph Curry foot injury?
The Warriors once again used their fast-paced and efficient offense to earn them a spot, while the Celtics used their tough and physical defense to beat the last two Eastern Conference champions and the defending NBA Champions.
Golden State and their core can cement their legacy in NBA history with another win, while this young Celtics squad could start one of their own with a championship.
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Boston Celtics vs. Golden State Warriors (-4) O/U 212.5
(Tip-Off 9 p.m. ET)
The Warriors come into this series having taken a relatively smooth path to NBA Finals. Their semi-final matchup with Memphis was challenging, and they could have possibly lost to Memphis with a healthy Ja Morant, but they had relatively dominant five-game series victories against Denver and Dallas.
Despite an easy four-game sweep of the Brooklyn Nets, the Celtics were in two very tough seven-game series. The first resulted in the Celtics defeating the defending champions, Milwaukee Bucks, with back-to-back wins in Game 6 & 7. In the Conference Finals, they took on the 2020 Eastern Conference champions Miami Heat in a series that came down to a missed Jimmy Butler three-point attempt. With injuries that forced Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III to miss games throughout the playoffs, they needed a few days off to try to be as healthy as possible.
The Warriors certainly come into this series with the experience. With their sixth NBA Finals appearance in eight years, they still have the core group of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green that has been there for the whole ride. They have since added some new guys like Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins who have been essential pieces and have been a spark, especially with Curry and Green missing time this season and, of course, Thompson coming back after missing two years with a torn ACL and Achilles.
This will be a matchup of the best offense against the best defense. Both teams have not faced an opponent like this throughout the playoffs. It could take time for each to adjust, and it could be the team that does it quicker that takes Game 1.
This Warriors offense has proven how it can take over as they come into this series with the most points per game (114.5) in the playoffs. For proof of their offensive potency, just go back and look at Game 2 against the Mavericks. Stephen Curry has been vintage throughout the postseason with amazing performances and clutch threes late in the game. Although he hasn’t seen the playoffs in a couple of years, it looks like he never left.
As alluded to above, Golden State has not seen a defense like the Celtics, who were the top team in the regular season by allowing just 104.5 points per game and were the best against the three (.335). They are one of the more physical teams, especially on the boards, with Williams, who finished the regular season third in blocks (2.15 PPG) and fifth in offensive rebounds (3.68 PPG), along with Al Horford, who’s averaging 11 points and nine rebounds and has stepped up when Williams has missed games. Most importantly, they have the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Marcus Smart, who will be guarding Curry. There might be a vendetta for Curry against Smart, as in their last matchup in the regular season, Smart injured Curry when he fell on his foot; some would argue it was possibly deliberate, spraining a ligament, forcing him to miss the remainder of the regular season.
While their offense gets the spotlight, Golden State’s defense was also top-notch this season as they finished second and right behind Boston in defensive efficiency (1.044) and effective field goal rate (.511). While Miami is also one of the better defensive teams this year, they finished that series banged up, and the Celtics will be going against a fully healthy Warriors team.
It might not be talked about enough, but Jayson Tatum has been critical to the Celtics’ success during this playoff run. Tied for sixth with 27 points per game, he’s had some big moments, including a 39-point performance in Game 3 of the Conference Quarterfinals and exploding for 46 in the Game 6 elimination game in the semi-finals. Like Curry for the Warriors, Tatum will be the X-factor for the Celtics’ offense.
With how well these two teams match up, this series might come down to the intangibles. The Warriors have the pedigree, experience, and talent and are a recent dynasty. The Celtics are the hottest team in the second half, they’ve been battle-tested and are hungry to start their own dynasty while the ghosts of 17 championships and Red Auerbach whisper in their ear.
Each team can look brilliant at times but also can play just plain awful. Both teams have 20-point wins and losses throughout the playoffs and have had trouble with unforced turnovers. They will need to play as clean as possible, or a game could swing out of their favor.
The Chase Center is going to be charged up and rocking as they have not seen an NBA Finals game since losing to the Toronto Raptors in 2019. Golden State has the experience. The Warriors should take Game 1, but there’s a big possibility that this is a long series.
Leg 1: Warriors -3.5
Point Total O/U 212.5
We know how tough the Celtics defense is, but as mentioned, the Warriors know how to lock down a team, especially from the perimeter. Still, both of these teams played against opponents that were also efficient defensively, and the Warriors went over the total in three of five games and the Celtics in four of seven. At this total, you should be confident in the over. It might start the climb as the series continues, so bite on this number now.
Leg 2: Over 212.5
Total parlay odds on DraftKings: +265
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