The 2022 NBA Finals will be a best-of-seven series between the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics with Game 1 tipping off on Thursday evening. The Warriors are seeking their fourth championship since 2015 while the Celtics can break their tie with the Lakers for the most championships won with an 18th title.
How Each Team Reached the NBA Finals
Golden State Warriors
After two years of injuries and missing the NBA playoffs, Golden State began this season in historic fashion with an 18-2 record. During that 20-game start, the Warriors scored at least 100 points and did not allow 115 points in all 20 games, the third-longest streak in NBA history. The Warriors did not allow their first 29 opponents to score 115 points, a streak only matched in the last four seasons by this year’s Celtics.
But while Klay Thompson made his return to the court in January for the first time since the 2019 Finals, Draymond Green soon left injured. By the time Green was healthy, Steph Curry was injured in a March 16th showdown with Boston, a 22-point rout won by the visiting Celtics.
The Warriors were fading with a 1-7 record since the Curry injury, but they were able to win their last five games to finish 53-29, good enough for the No. 3 seed and home-court advantage in the Finals. Curry returned for the playoffs and did not miss a beat.
Despite the Warriors finishing 1-3 in the regular season against each of the Nuggets, Grizzlies, and Mavericks, they were able to defeat all three in the playoffs. The Warriors shut down Nikola Jokic’s supporting cast in a five-game series against Denver. They caught a break with Ja Morant suffering a season-ending injury in the second round before eliminating Memphis in six games. Then the Warriors were able to take care of Luka Doncic’s Mavericks in five games.
This is the sixth Finals appearance for head coach Steve Kerr’s core group of Curry, Thompson, and Green. They are 3-2 in the Finals as they seek their fourth ring together with the help of strong additions in Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins.
Rookie head coach Ime Udoka took over a team that had been to the playoffs seven years in a row, but they could never get over the hump, losing three times in the Eastern Conference Finals. Things got off to a shaky start as the Celtics were 2-5 and eventually 23-24 more than halfway through the season.
But a remarkable late-January turnaround has seen the team finish the regular season 28-7 and marched through a tough playoff field to reach the Finals. Center Al Horford was a nice addition to a core that’s been playing several seasons together with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Robert Williams. Derrick White and Grant Williams have also been key bench contributors down the stretch.
Tatum and Brown are an excellent duo capable of scoring 50-to-60 points per game between them. Smart is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. The Celtics are a balanced team that rank No. 2 in Defensive Rating this postseason after finishing No. 1 in that stat in the regular season.
The Celtics finished 51-31 to earn the No. 2 seed in the East. They swept a very talented Brooklyn team in the first round. They withstood the defending champion Bucks in a seven-game series in the second round, and like the Warriors they caught a break with Khris Middleton’s injury. The Celtics improved to 6-0 after a loss this postseason by coming back to beat the Heat in Miami in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, finally overcoming that hump to reach the team’s first NBA Finals since 2010.
Boston Celtics vs. Golden State Warriors Matchup Analysis
With home court and championship experience, the Warriors are a slight favorite over the Celtics to win the series at many sportsbooks. But Boston has the right ingredients to make this a challenging series, if not an upset win.
The Warriors are so deadly at home where their Offensive Rating is a league-high 120.8 this postseason. But the Celtics are 7-2 on the road in the playoffs after a regular season that saw them post the highest Net Rating (+7.7) and Defensive Rating (106.3) in road games.
Golden State is known for great third quarters, and this season was no different with the Warriors posting a +10.5 Net Rating in the third quarter. But Boston was the only team higher at 11.8. If there is a team who could withstand some of Golden State’s home mastery, it is this Boston team. The Celtics cover a league-high 67.4% of road games (33-16-1 ATS) this season, and they just won three games in Miami.
Boston may try a lot of threes like Dallas did against Golden State, but the Mavericks missed too many open shots in that series. Boston made 40.6% of its wide-open threes against Miami, the highest rate by any team in the Conference Finals round.
Tatum is a big-game player and scorer who could easily offset any great shooting nights from Curry. Boston’s defense surrendered some huge statistical games to Jimmy Butler and Giannis Antetokounmpo in the last two rounds, but it came at the expense of shutting down the supporting cast. That will be harder to do with the Warriors when any one of Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, or Jordan Poole can go off in any given game. The Warriors are 12-1 this postseason when they allow fewer than 119 points, so the Celtics better be on their game on the offensive end this series.
These teams split their two regular-season meetings, though in March, Curry was injured early before Boston cruised to a 110-88 win in Golden State. These teams have been playing against a lot of one-man show rosters this postseason, but it is safe to say the Finals will provide each with their greatest challenge and the best defense they will have seen yet. It should be an exciting series to watch unfold.
How the NBA Finals Work
Let’s take a look a look at the format, the awards and maybe even when the NBA Finals start.
Best of Seven Format
The NBA Finals are a best-of-seven game series between the last remaining team in the Western Conference and Eastern Conference. Conference seeding is ignored for determining home-court advantage, so the team with the better record in the regular season will have home court for the Finals. This is why third-seeded Golden State (53-29) has home-court advantage over second-seeded Boston (51-31).
The series will again follow the home-road format of 2-2-1-1-1 with the Warriors starting the series at home and getting Game 7 at home if necessary.
NBA Finals MVP Award
At the conclusion of the NBA Finals, an individual player will be awarded with the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. This award is only based on the player with the most outstanding performance, as voted on by a panel of media members, in the NBA Finals. The player’s performance in the regular season or previous rounds of the playoffs does not factor into this award.
The reigning Finals MVP is Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. Guard Jerry West (1969 Lakers) was the first player to receive the Finals MVP award, and he remains the only player in history to win it as a member of the losing team in the NBA Finals. The award usually goes to the best player on the winning team, and it is something you could find the best odds to wager on during the series.
Golden State point guard Steph Curry is the odds-on favorite to win the Finals MVP this year, followed closely by Jayson Tatum for Boston. Since 1991, the award has gone almost 60% of the time to the best player on the team with home-court advantage.
TV Schedule for NBA Finals
For the 20th consecutive season, ABC will handle exclusive TV coverage of the NBA Finals. Here is a tentative NBA Finals schedule for the games:
- Game 1: Thursday, June 2
- Game 2: Sunday, June 5
- Game 3: Wednesday, June 8
- Game 4: Friday, June 10
- Game 5: Monday, June 13 (if necessary)
- Game 6: Thursday, June 16 (if necessary)
- Game 7: Sunday, June 19 (if necessary)
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