2022 NBA Finals predictions: Expert picks for Warriors vs Celtics in a series that could be an instant classic

The 2022 NBA Finals game is set, and it has the potential to be a classic series between the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics. Game 1 is scheduled for Thursday in San Francisco.

These two teams are extremely balanced. Personally, I think the Celtics are so well equipped to defend Golden State’s movement-based offense that they’ll prevail in a seven-game war.

Not everyone agrees with me. You certainly can’t blame anyone for leaning towards a Warriors team that has been to six of the last eight NBA Finals and won three championships with core Stephen Curry-Klay Thompson-Draymond Green.

With that in mind, here is our staff forecast.

NBA Finals Pick: Warriors vs. Celtics

Reiter’s Pick: Warriors in 6. Golden State has reclaimed its championship mojo, a revival that will continue in a hard-fought series that will see Steph Curry & Co. win a fourth championship. Yes, the Celtics have a world-class defense – a defense that so far this post-season has made Kevin Durant look like a pedestrian, made two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo noticeably less effective and turned the offense around at times. of the Miami Heat in embarrassment. But the Warriors have the answers in Steph, Klay, Poole and Wiggins – players who will launch an offense that will find its way through and over Boston. Add in a Golden State defense that was the best in the regular season, and the most impressive championship in Warriors history is just weeks away.

Quinn’s pick: Warriors in 7. This series is a toss-up. The defenses that succeed against Golden State are the ones that don’t have weak links. Boston has none. If Andrew Wiggins can handle Luka Doncic, he can handle Jayson Tatum. If Boston was afraid to go to Bam Adebayo on switch, he will avoid Draymond Green like the plague. Boston doesn’t rebound well enough to force Golden State to play big when it doesn’t want to. The return of Gary Payton II is going to result in a lot of the turnovers Miami turned into easy last-round points, but the Warriors, like the Celtics, have a frustrating ability to mess up and will return many of those points to Boston. I lean very, very slightly towards the Warriors because of three very simple advantages. Golden State gets Game 7 at home. Golden State begins this series with three more days off. Golden State, by the slimmest of margins, has the best player in the series. That’s it. If Robert Williams III and Marcus Smart can get back to something resembling full strength, I might switch. But for now? I’m giving Golden State a little edge.

Ward-Henninger’s pick: Warriors in 7. The Warriors haven’t seen a defense like the Celtics. The Celtics haven’t seen an offense like the Warriors. So who wins? At the end of the day, I have to give Golden State the edge in critical time execution based on how the two have played so far in the playoffs. I might overestimate the experience, but the “championship DNA” cliché has manifested for the Warriors many times this postseason. Add in the fact that Gary Payton II could be healthy for the Finals to make life hell for Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the Celtics offense, and I think Golden State has the slight advantage with home court advantage. On the other side, Robert Williams’ health is a huge wild card, but it’s pretty clear that he’s not 100%, which makes things a little more manageable for the Warriors offense. Either way, I predict a long streak with big leads on both sides, especially in the early games.

Maloney’s pick: Celtics in 6. This series really seems like a draw, with most leaning towards the Warriors due to their experience and home-court advantage. All this is reasonable and it is difficult to oppose it. At the same time, this Celtics team has responded to every challenge thrown over the past few weeks and months, and is the only team with a winning record against the Warriors since Steve Kerr took over in 2014. The Celtics have the exact personnel. needed to slow down the Warriors’ offensive attack, and their defense, which has been spectacular throughout the playoffs, will lead them to the No. 18 banner.

Wimbish’s choice: Warriors in 7. The Celtics’ run to the final was hugely impressive, but they didn’t face an attack close to what the Warriors present. On the other hand, the Warriors haven’t faced such a versatile and heavyweight defense as the Celtics. You can really go either way with this game because there are valid reasons to pick every team, but I trust Golden State’s ability to lock down when needed and put points on the board quickly. .

Botkin’s choice: Celtics in 7. The Celtics are perfectly equipped to defend Golden State’s off-ball movement, and they can beat the Warriors on the offensive glass, especially when Golden State isn’t playing Kevon Looney, which adds up over the course of a series. Golden State is prone to turnovers, and Boston could cause a lot of them. Golden State won’t apply the same type of peripheral pressure as Miami on Boston ball handlers, and Steph Curry will be pushed out defensively. Jayson Tatum has become great at making plays with double teams, so the hunt for this game should produce plenty of open 3-point looks for the Celtics. All of that, in my mind, will barely be enough to get Boston ahead of the Warriors. And yes, I understand that prediction to mean they will have to win Game 7 at the Warriors home court. Cleveland did it in 2016, and Boston has what it takes to do it again in 2022.

Herbert’s choice: Celtics in 7. In the regular season, they are the two best defensive teams in the league. Elite in attack too, when their best players were on the pitch. Both teams, however, can be sloppy with the ball and stay cold for several frustrating minutes at a time, despite all their attacking skill. When the Warriors have the ball, can their movement create the same kind of confusion as usual? It will be a challenge against a defense that blends the best qualities of the 2018 Rockets and the 2019 Raptors. And when the Celtics have the ball, will their game hunt be as effective as it was in previous rounds? Golden State is used to managing teams that chase Stephen Curry, and there won’t be many other targets if Gary Payton II, Andre Iguodala and Otto Porter are available. I’m leaning slightly towards Boston, mostly because I picked them to beat the Warriors in the Finals six weeks ago and feel like I should stick with that. But also because Jordan Poole, a crucial part of Golden State’s offense, is going to be harassed relentlessly, and Boston playmakers won’t have that problem.

Kaskey-Blomain’s choice: Warriors in 7. Both of these teams are deep, well trained and go after it defensively. During the regular season, the Celtics had the highest-rated defense in the league, while the Warriors were right behind them at No. 2, so we can probably expect near-elite defense from both teams. So the difference in the series could come on the offensive side, where the Warriors seem to be a bit better. Golden State has more threats on the offensive side, including one of the toughest players in the entire league to keep in Stephen Curry. The Warriors also have a proven system that has provided them with past playoff success. Boston’s offense isn’t tested at the highest level like Golden State’s, which brings us to the question of experience. Five players in the series have Finals experience, and all five are on Golden State. Additionally, Steve Kerr will coach his sixth NBA Finals, while Ime Udoka will coach his first. That massive experience advantage should work in favor of the Warriors.

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