It’s been a wild ride to the 2022 NBA Finals, with thrilling upsets, lopsided blowouts, and everything that falls in between.
But when the dust has settled, two teams remain: The Boston Celtics and the Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors eased into the NBA Finals, defeating the Dallas Mavericks 4-1 in the Western Conference Finals, flexing a nearly unbeatable offensive showcase that features old stalwarts Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, as well as defensive specialist Draymond Green.
It is their first appearance in the finals since 2019, and is the sixth Finals appearance in the past eight seasons.
Meanwhile, the Celtics overcame the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, once again overcoming a Game 7 contest. They also played the full seven games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. It is Boston’s first appearance since 2010.
After the Celtics advanced to the NBA Finals on Sunday night, they have opened up as underdogs with odds anywhere from +140 to +160 depending on your sportsbook.
While the Warriors’ Curry, Thompson and Green have been mainstays through their eight year run, it has been the emergency of Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins and Kevon Looney that has allowed the Warriors to make it to the NBA Finals this year.
Another X factor to watch out for is Gary Payton II. He has been out with a elbow fracture since he was fouled hard by Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks in the Western Conference Semifinals. His return would be another elite defender to throw at the Celtics.
Meanwhile, the Celtics could use a breather after injuries and fatigue started to pile up after their last two series went to Game 7s. Marcus Smart is currently dealing with a quad and ankle injury. Robert Williams III is playing with knee soreness, and Jayson Tatum has averaged over 40 minutes a game over his last 14 games.
The X factor for the Celtics is if they can withstand the pressure of the game’s biggest event. While Boston has a combined 0 games of NBA Finals experience, the Warriors have 123 games.
That may prove to be the difference in a highly anticipated series.
It’s actually the first time experience has been this lopsided since the 1997 season. In that year, the Chicago Bulls, who went on to win the championship, had 134 combined games of experience in the NBA Finals.
Their foe, the Utah Jazz, like the Celtics, had zero. The Bulls went on to win that finals for Michael Jordan’s fifth NBA title.