This year’s NBA Finals features two of the league’s most successful franchises, as the Boston Celtics will take on the Golden State Warriors.
How They Got Here
The postseason was a revenge tour of sorts for the Celtics. They eliminated each of the teams that ended their season the previous three years. In the opening round, Boston swept the Brooklyn Nets before ousting the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat, respectively, in seven games.
Meanwhile, the Warriors have been largely unchallenged this postseason, posting a 12-4 mark through the opening three rounds en route to securing the club’s sixth NBA Finals appearance in eight years.
Warriors-Celtics Key Matchups
Marcus Smart vs. Stephen Curry
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year will look to slow down the game’s greatest shooter as Marcus Smart and Stephen Curry renew acquaintances.
These two were involved in a small controversy stemming from a March 16 contest in which Smart dove for a loose ball and landed on Curry’s foot. The two-time league MVP ultimately suffered a sprained ligament.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr characterized it as a “dangerous play” and the injury forced Curry to miss the remainder of the regular season and briefly come off the bench in the opening round of the playoffs. In 10 career games against Smart, the 34-year-old has averaged 24.1 points, 4.6 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per contest.
Andrew Wiggins vs. Jayson Tatum
One of the feel-good stories of this year’s postseason has been the play of former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins has been impactful on both ends of the floor, averaging 15.8 points, while blossoming into one of the game’s better wing defenders. The 27-year-old will draw his most challenging postseason assignment in Boston superstar Jayson Tatum.
Tatum leads the Celtics in playoff scoring with 27 points per game.
The result of this series could depend on the performance of the Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson. While Thompson hasn’t looked quite like the player he was before his injuries, he is still capable of some big nights offensively, as evidenced by his three 30-plus point performances this postseason.
Thompson’s importance extends to the defensive end, where he will likely be tasked with stopping Celtics star guard Jaylen Brown. Once one of the game’s premier defenders, Thompson has struggled in that area since his return, with teams routinely going at the five-time All-Star, an unthinkable scenario before his devastating injuries.
If the 32-year-old can routinely find his old stroke while regaining some of his defensive form, Golden State will be very tough to beat.
NBA Finals Betting Odds
When the stakes are raised on the court, you can raise the stakes at with NBA Finals betting. Throughout the championship series, you can bet online with NBA Finals odds for spreads, player props, parlays, and more.