Q: Prediction time: Who will the 2022 NBA Finals and why?
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Steve Aschburner: Warriors in 6. I’m chalking this up to the experience factor, what with Golden State being here for the sixth time in eight years compared to Boston’s newbie status. The Celtics’ two most important scorers, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, are up and down in ways the best Warriors are not. And Golden State is potent enough from multiple spots to stress Boston’s stingy defense. I would have picked this as a shorter series if not for the Warriors’ tendency so far this spring to play with their food, needing an extra game in each previous round to close out Denver, Memphis and Dallas, respectively.
Mark Medina: Warriors in 7. Every game’s outcome might depend on a handful of possessions, which presumably pronounces the importance of every shot, mistake and rotation. Nonetheless, two huge variables will emerge. The Warriors will both largely benefit from their experience and having home-court advantage. The Celtics have their own experience both from playoff shortcomings and roster continuity. But they hardly match the Warriors’ collective muscle memory with their championship core players knowing both how to execute and how to elevate their less experienced teammates. The Warriors also have gone undefeated during their first playoff run at Chase Center (9-0). Both the Warriors and the Celtics are capable (and will likely need) to win on each other’s home floor to win the title. Yet, the Warriors’ improved home-court atmosphere could tilt the scale.
Shaun Powell: Celtics in 7. Yes, it seems risky to select a team to win a third straight seven-game series, especially at this stage of the game, and particularly against the experienced Warriors. But the Celtics appear to be a team of destiny, flourishing since late January, with Marcus Smart winning Defensive Player of the Year, with Jayson Tatum taking a superstar turn, with role players filling in nicely, with this team winning elimination playoff games on the road in Milwaukee and Miami. And, with defense. It’s Boston’s time.
John Schuhmann: Warriors in 7. This isn’t an easy series to predict, and Game 1 will be fascinating in regard to matchups and schemes. The Celtics have seemingly navigated a tougher path to the Finals, and they’ve actually been better statistically, outscoring their opponents by 1.6 more points per 100 possessions than the Warriors have. Boston has the best defense that the Warriors have faced since these teams last met on March 16, with no liabilities on that end of the floor within their top seven rotation guys. The Warriors seemingly have a higher ceiling, they should be the fresher and healthier team, and they obviously have the best offense that the Celtics have faced since (at least) the first round. It should certainly be a long series, and Golden State should be the slight favorite, but an 18th banner for the Celtics wouldn’t be a big surprise.
Michael C. Wright: Warriors in 7. This series could go either way because both teams really are that good. Although I’ve got the Warriors winning, to be honest, this prediction was made before they even advanced to this point. That’s because there’s a hunger you could see in this Golden State team going back to the conference finals, when these “old” experienced Warriors with three starters age 32 or older just flat outworked a young, upstart Dallas team. The Warriors beat the Mavs to loose balls and rebounds most of the series, while playing with a grit and determination Dallas never seemed to match. Golden State could see the Finals on the horizon and grinded hard to get there. Now that the Warriors are back on this stage, you know they’ll remember not finishing the job in 2019. The Celtics are the best defensive team Golden State has seen in the postseason, but they just don’t have the offensive firepower man for man, championship experience, or the consistency the Warriors bring into this series.
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