The NBA Finals have arrived after three rounds of thrilling, dramatic, and blowout games. It's a series that pits familiar faces against those with little experience on the league’s biggest stage.
TheThree-time champions, directing the. , They are making their sixth Finals appearance in eight seasons. The Meanwhile, the meanwhile, are here to celebrate their first anniversary since 2010.
This series will feature both defensive and offensive clinics, despite the strengths of each team. Since 1996, this is the first Finals that will feature the top defensive efficiency teams.The Seattle SuperSonics won.
CanContinue to knock off future Hall of Famer in the playoffs. Curry will Curry win the elusive NBA Finals MVP Award? What are the biggest X-factors for each team?
The keys to what should have been an exhilarating series are being broken down by our NBA insiders.
Note: Series odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook and ESPN's Basketball Power Index (BPI).
Statistic and odds for series:
How did they get here?
The Warriors are back in NBA Finals, for the first-time since 2019 and six times in the last eight seasons.
However, unlike their dynastic run from 2014 to 2019, the trip to the Finals was not a guarantee. Two years ago, the Warriors held the worst record in the NBA. They missed the playoffs last season after they lost both of their play-in matches.
He missed the first half of the season while he was recovering from Achilles tendon and ACL injuries. After a 941-day layoff, he made his debut in January. However, he was back the day after his recovery from Achilles tendinitis and ACL injuries. A back injury caused Green to go down. Green was able to return two months later, but only one time. A foot strain led to missed month one of the regular season.
The emergence, The Warriors remained in the top three of the Western Conference. They played a key role in the Warriors' return to the NBA's greatest stage during the playoffs.
X factor: The health
The Warriors have not played with a fully-healthy roster in years.Has missed all of the postseason to date. Three games were missed. Gary Payton II has been absent since the beginning of the second round. These players will be reintegrated in team practice this week and could each be an important addition for the Warriors' title hopes.
He emerged this season as a lockdown defense. He started the season by playing rotational minutes and defending top players against his opponent's wing players or bigs. He even recorded several blocks.‘ Both in the regular-season and playoffs. Steve Kerr has given Payton more time because of the way he has improved his offense.
Payton's performance earned them a spot in the Western Conference semifinals, before his elbow was damaged on a controversial game with the‘ .
For the Warriors in the Finals, Payton's defense is crucial. Golden State is known for their offense, but the Warriors are constantly promoting how their defense kick-starts its scoring. Payton's presence in the paint gives the Warriors more options for going small.
Prior to his injury, Payton averaged 6.1 points, 72.7% field goal shooting and 3.0 rebounds in 15.9 minutes during the playoffs.
Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors head coach, talks about his team's experience leading up to the NBA Finals.
The biggest weakness is turnover
Kerr laughed as he joked about not bringing up turnovers because that has been the team's problem for eight years. Kerr doesn't need to remind his players that turnovers are a problem anymore.
Turnovers have again been the Achilles heel of the Warriors in this postseason. Golden State has an average of 14.8 turnovers per playoff game, which is fifth worst among the 16 postseason teams. This is for 15.9 points. It doesn't sound bad on the surface, but it becomes much more evident when you take into account the Warriors' wins as well as losses.
They are averaging 16.3 turnovers and 20.8 points in their four playoff losses. This is the third-highest turnover rate in the postseason. They managed to reduce that number to 14.2 turnovers and 14.3 points in wins (which is the top 10 in both categories).
Turnovers are inevitable with the Warriors' style of play, which is fast and involves lots of ball movement. They are focusing on reducing the number of lazy or sloppy passes.
They will be much more difficult to defeat if the Warriors reduce their turnovers. If they lose, it will not be because they gave away the ball.
— Kendra Andrews
Statistic and odds for series:
How did they get here?
In the most anticipated first round matchup, the second-seeded Celtics took on the seventh-seeded Celtics. The series could have gone seven games with Boston's dynamic duo. Moving against . Boston took advantage of the Nets' weakness to win a sweep.
Boston followed up with seven-game thrillers at the conference semifinals as well as conference finals. They fell behind 3-2 in the series against theTo keep momentum going into the conference finals, the Celtics responded by winning back-to-back double digit games.
For the top-seededAfter falling behind 2-1, the Celtics rallied to take a 3-1 lead into Game 6. Miami beat the Celtics in an incredible performance It can be sent to South Beach Game 7
The final blow was delivered by the Celtics, who advanced to their 22nd NBA Finals, their first in franchise history, in search of their NBA-record 18th championship.
X Factor: Finally, some rest
The three days of rest between Game 7 against Miami and Game 1 in the Finals could be the most important thing for the Celtics as they head into the NBA Finals.
Boston has had to endure a back-to-back series with the Heat and Bucks. After three days of rest following Game 2 against Milwaukee, Boston is now playing every day.
In the playoffs, he had to deal with a quad injury as well as a sprained foot. Robert Williams III missed April due to right-meniscus surgery. Robert Williams III has been suffering from knee pain after a bone fracture sustained in a collision. Game 3 against the Bucks
Over the last two series, Tatum averaged more than 41 minutes per game. Brown andBoth teams average more than 38 minutes per game. Each of them logged at least 44 minute in Game 7 against Heat.
Simply put, the Celtics could benefit from a few extra days.
Golden State has won the postseason without having to play in Game 7, and they have already beaten the competition.In five games. After the Finals begin Thursday night, the Warriors will have a week off.
Your biggest weakness is: Are the lights way too bright?
Boston's collective inexperience in postseason play was apparent in several games in the last two rounds.
Boston was able to go 4-0 in clutch time games against the Brooklyn Nets. However, Boston fell to 2-4 against the Heat and Bucks. Sunday's Game 7 was one of those games. A missed Jimmy Butler 3-pointer might have led to a historic fall.
When they can jump out to large leads and crush their opponents with their league-leading defense, the Celtics have flourished in this postseason.
This Celtics team enters the Finals having played zero Finals games, while Golden State has 123. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, this is just the third Finals in NBA history in which one team has had 100-plus games of experience while the other team had zero, and the first time since 1997 (Bulls 134,0).
Yet, Boston managed to turn a record of under.500 in the middle season into a Finals appearance, becoming the first team since the 1980-1981 Rockets. ESPN Stats and Information. The Celtics were able to win the Eastern Conference finals regardless of their inexperience, whether they beat the Bucks or won a Game 7 on the road.
These Warriors are, however, very much looking like The Warriors. If the Celtics are to claim title No. 18. They will need to ensure their lackluster Finals experience is not a problem on the biggest stage.
— Andrew Lopez
Series key: How Golden State manages a defense that is switch-heavy
Golden State made it to the NBA Finals without having to face a team that switches on defense. According to Second Spectrum tracking, none of the Warriors' three West rivals (Denver and Memphis) were among the top half in switching on-ball screens during regular season. Second Spectrum data shows that while the Mavericks started to switch more in the series against the Warriors over the course, Golden State ranks ninth in the 16 playoff teams regarding how many opponents have switched against Golden State (31.5%) during the playoffs.
This is about to change. The Celtics are the only team that switched more often than any other team during the regular season. They also rank second in the playoffs for switching frequency at 44%.
In theory, the Warriors could switch screens to allow them to play the offense that they want. Imagine how theIn the 2018 conference finals, Golden State's offense was held down by their defense at times. They were held below 95 points in two consecutive wins in Games 4. and 5. These games saw 32 assists for the Warriors, slightly more than the average of 32 assists per game in the previous round. (30.8).
Golden State does not have an isolation player like Kevin Durant in 2018 to help them hunt for mismatches against a switch-heavy defensive team. The Warriors have faced switches enough times in postseason that they have built a strong arsenal of options against them.
These traits were evident in Golden State's win over Dallas. In Game 5, 63% of Warriors' on-ball screens were switched by the Warriors — the highest number of Warriors playoff games. They still managed to give out 36 assists during the playoffs. Curry and Green had nine each.
Golden State also did it against a team that seldom switched between the playoffs and regular season. The Warriors will now have to face a well-trained switching team that plays from a position where they are stronger than their weaknesses. It will be a big factor in determining the final outcome.
— Kevin Pelton