The NBA Finals Have Finally Arrived!
We’ve got the last two teams ready to battle it out in the NBA Finals. The Boston Celtics will face the Golden State Warriors on June 2nd. Let’s discuss it all here.
Latest NBA playoff news
- Warriors get week to relax for Finals after dispatching Mavericks, 4-1
- Celtics overcome late-game jitters to reach Finals after beating Heat, 4-3
- Jimmy Butler plays entire 48 minutes in the loss to Boston
- Lakers announce ex-player Darvin Ham as their new head coach
- Gary Payton II expected to return to Warriors lineup after elbow injury
- Tatum wins ECF MVP and Steph picks up WCF MVP
Celtics almost blow lead but ultimately come away with huge Game 7 win
The Celtics are on their way to their first Finals trip since 2010, but oh my… it very nearly didn’t happen. Boston can thank the basketball gods that Jimmy Butler missed that three-point attempt.
Boston looked great for the entire game, but things got pretty shaky in the last stretch. The Celtics had a 13-point lead with only 3:35 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but bad passes and ill-timed shots meant that the Heat battled back to make it 98-96 in favor of Boston with 51 seconds remaining.
With the home Miami crowd going raucous in the building, it was superstar Jimmy Butler from the Heat that had an incredible chance to take the lead. After Boston missed on the other end, Butler stormed up the court and took a three-pointer with only 17 seconds remaining that would have given his team a one-point lead. Thankfully for Boston fans… it missed.
The Celtics have never been luckier in the entire regular season or playoffs in 2022 than when Butler missed that shot, as squandering that lead with minutes remaining would have been inexcusable. But, things worked out in the end, and as the Celtics grabbed the rebound after Butler’s miss, Marcus Smart was fouled and hit both crucial free-throws.
Boston won 100-96 and booked a ticket to the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, which start on Thursday June 2nd.
Nothing has been easy about this Boston vs. Miami ECF, as any time you think it’s figured out, everything is turned upside-down. For one, Boston should have easily won Game 6 at home after leading the series, 3-2. But Miami and Butler especially played with their lives on the line and earned the victory.
However, apart from a terrible last few minutes, the Celtics played brilliantly thanks to solid team basketball. Stars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown attacked the paint and hit outside shots at the right moments. Both players have faced criticism for not bringing their best in every game, but they proved how valuable their talents are needed for a promising Boston team.
Tatum ended the game with 26 points, six assists, and 10 rebounds, while Brown finished with 24 points, six assists, and six rebounds. Both played heavy minutes too, as Tatum went for 46 minutes and Brown 44. Sure, it wasn’t beating Butler’s 48 minutes, but that’s still pretty impressive.
Plus, there were solid contributions for the Celtics from Smart (24 points) and Grant Williams (11) that were much-needed to ensure not absolutely everything needed to rest on Tatum and Brown’s collective shoulders.
Much like Game 6, Jimmy Butler was nearly unstoppable over the entire night, finishing with 35 points and nine rebounds, but only one assist. Adebayo (25) and Lowry (15) chipped in at pivotal moments, but the Heat badly needed some bench scoring.
While Tyler Herro played in his first game after missing three with a groin strain, he seemed hobbled out there and only managed seven minutes and didn’t score a point.
Overall, full credit to the Celtics and congratulations to them and the Warriors for making the 2022 NBA Finals.
5 takeaways from Game 7 of Boston vs. Miami
- Tatum and Brown know how to play when it counts
- Jimmy Butler is a machine… not one second of rest!
- Tyler Herro still didn’t look healthy for the Heat
- Boston makes stupid decisions when tense
- Celtics’ Smart needs to limit his three-point shots
Likelihood of each team winning the NBA championship
Let’s break down the chances of either the Celtics or the Warriors taking the 2022 NBA championship once the Finals start on June 2nd.
Golden State Warriors
Somehow, it doesn’t seem weird at all that the Warriors are back in the NBA Finals. This will be their sixth appearance in the last eight years, with only three of those ending with a championship.
The core lineup of Steph, Klay, and Draymond is still here and working effectively. The trio has arguably the best team chemistry in the entire NBA, as they always know where each other will be and when to make the correct pass or shot.
The Warriors’ last trip to the NBA Finals was in 2019, when they were defeated by the Toronto Raptors, 4-2. However, a lot has changed since then, as Klay Thompson has recovered from two major injuries that could have derailed his career.
There’s no more Kevin Durant, but there’s far more youth on this Golden State squad, as both Jordan Poole and Anthony Wiggins have played valuable minutes across the playoffs.
One could argue that the Warriors’ age could catch up with them, as apart from a few tweaks, many stars are in their mid-30s and have played dozens of playoff games. Still, with coach Steve Kerr on the sidelines, this Warriors team plays some of the best offense in the league, as the ball swings around like lightning and every player moves off-ball to make life hard for defenders.
Then, of course, there’s Stephen Curry. He might not be the shooter from a few years ago, but he’s still lethal at basically any range or angle on the court. Leave him open at your peril. Steph is averaging 25.9 points and 6.2 assists per game in the playoffs, which means he can shoot when he wants but trusts his teammates to make the open shot.
The Warriors’ championship experience is hard to deny, as the nucleus of this team has been there and done that many times before. Two years away from the Finals might not seem long, but it’s long enough for the players to have that hunger to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy once again.
The Celtics are a storied sports franchise with 17 championships, however, most of those came in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. The 90s and 2000s haven’t been too kind for Boston, as apart from a huge Finals win in 2008 over the Lakers, the trophy cabinet has looked roughly the same since the Celtics’ heydays.
In fact, the last time the Celtics made the Finals was in 2010, when they were defeated by the Lakers, 4-3. It’s been a long, long time since Boston looked like a real threat to win another championship, but Celtics fans have got to feel good about this 2022 team.
The Boston trio of Tatum, Brown, and Smart is incredibly young, as all are in their 20s, but these playoffs have given each player a tremendous boost in confidence. The Celtics fought tooth and nail to get to this point, getting through the Nets, Bucks, and now Heat.
Boston supporters could well say that they’ve had a tougher playoff path than the Warriors to reach the Finals, which is certainly true, as the Warriors had a much more relaxed journey past the Nuggets, Grizzlies, and Mavericks. Still, a win is a win, and both the Celtics and Warriors deserve to be here.
Boston only has a few days to rest before the Finals start, while the Warriors have had a week of relaxing, so we’ll find out in Game 1 if it’s better to rest up or keep the momentum going after the Conference Finals.
The Celtics have got a major advantage with their lockdown defense, as it’s incredibly hard to score against this team with players like Smart and Robert Williams proving capable enough during the playoffs. However, this defense will be challenged when the Warriors’ free-flowing offense rolls into town.
You could say that the Warriors’ home court advantage would be a plus, but the Celtics never seem fazed by road games, as they’ve won seven in the 2022 playoffs, including the epic victory over Miami in the ECF.
Which team is going to win?
This is certainly one of the most exciting matchups we’ve had for some time in the NBA Finals. Boston is young, talented, and determined to bring back the team’s first championship since 2008. Yet the Warriors are highly experienced in the Finals and know how to succeed when the lights are brightest.
Even though it could well be a coin flip, we’re going with the youthful, defense-minded Celtics to win the 2022 NBA Finals, 4-2. Tatum and Brown are on their way to another level of stardom, and the supporting cast of Smart, Grant Williams, Al Horford, and Robert Williams will be just enough to get the victory.
Author: Joe Garland