As RunYourPool’s resident Heat Culture addict, it’s painful to be tasked with writing this year’s Finals preview. Especially as Miami came up INCHES short on a go-ahead three by Jimmy Butler with 18 seconds to go in Game 7. (Yes, it was the right shot). He missed. Now, the Boston Celtics meet the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals. All this, after one of the weirdest conference finals series we’ve ever witnessed. 

As a hoops head who appreciates quality ball, I’m incredibly excited to watch this matchup play out on the hardwood. We get a Warriors Dynasty that seemed to be on its last legs back, now looking as good as ever versus a young Celtics team that has finally broken through to the Finals.

Do the Warriors get their fourth ring in the past eight years? Or do the Celtics get their first in over a decade?

Let’s dig into the characters and see who will ultimately decide who’s heading home with the freshly designed Larry O’Brien trophy.

Talk about star power. This series is loaded with talent. We all know about Golden State’s big three and all they’ve accomplished. Boston’s young stars are new to the Finals. But, they have been in the thick of the playoff race for the past few years. If you’re asking me who has the better core group of stars, I have to lean towards the Dubs. Not only have they been here before but Steph and Klay are the greatest shooting duo of all time and Draymond is the best defender of his generation. The C’s core is exciting, but both Brown and Smart can be a bit chaotic at times offensively. Tatum, too, is known to disappear for spurts or even games. The Warriors have the edge here. 

The Role Stars

You know your team is good when Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins are your top role players.

Man, the dubs are loaded!

Poole, a friend of the site, has been the breakout star of the season and playoffs. He’s an elite and unique offensive talent capable of taking over a game. Wiggins, a former number 1 overall pick, is absolutely thriving as a tertiary option on offense and elite defensive stopper. The Warriors are maximizing his talent and it’s a sight to behold. 

The C’s role players aren’t household names, but have had an equal amount of impact on their run to the Finals.

Al Horford has found the fountain of youth since returning to Boston this season and has been great defensively. Derrick White was MASSIVE against Miami and if he keeps scoring and defending at his current rate, that will be huge for Boston. Robert Williams isn’t healthy, but if he can get right he’ll be a factor. One guy not pictured who will matter? Grant Williams. If his shot is falling and he’s staying out of foul trouble, that will go a long way for Boston as they try to bring home the ‘chip. 

Overall, these teams are deep and talented. Ultimately that’s why their both at this level and fighting to be the last team standing. How these role-players perform will likely be more of a factor than the stars, who we know will show up. Again, I’m leaning towards the Warriors here. The top-level talent and impact that Wiggins and Poole can have on a game, trumps the guys the Celtics are rolling out there. 

The Coaches

What an incredible coaching matchup, the only way this could be better is if it was Spoelstra vs Kerr.

Sour fandom notes aside, Udoka vs. Kerr is probably the best coaching showdown we’ve seen since Nurse vs. Kerr.

NBA fans know Kerr’s greatness, he’s been at the helm of this Warriors team which is already one of the greatest dynasties we’ve ever seen. The Warriors are historically ahead of the curve with schemes and rotations, and that’s only leveled up as the years have gone by. Meanwhile, Udoka is in the midst of one of the best first-year coaching jobs of all time. Sure, he inherited a boatload of talent that had already made multiple runs to the conference finals runs, but what he’s done is nothing short of incredible. After a slow start, and media calling for a breakup of JB and JT, the Celtics turned it around and have been the best team in the NBA since January. A lot of credit is due to Udoka sticking with his gameplan. He has his whole squad buying into playing with incredible competitiveness on both ends and turning elite defense into easy offense. 

More importantly, both coaches have the chess pieces to play with to make this coaching matchup as interesting as what’s going on between the lines. As a basketball nerd, I can’t wait to see the nuances in the rotations and which matchups they try to take advantage of. Do we see more Payton Pritchard if the Celtics need a scoring punch? How will Kerr be able to hide Poole defensively? How often and how early do we see the dub’s death lineup?

Watching these two battle and make adjustments is going to be a treat.

Prediction

Before I get to my pick, let me just say, there is no bias involved here. My heart yearns for Jimmy’s 3 falling instead of hitting the front part of the rim, but I hold no ill will towards Boston. Tatum is an incredible young player, Brown too, and Udoka is going to be a hell of a coach for a long time to come. 

The C’s have finally broken through with this core, that’s still incredibly young, after bowing out in the ECF multiple times. They are vying for their first title as a group and the Celtics’ first title since 2008. 

The Warriors are back after many thought they never would be. Two years removed from losing to the Raptors, and finally healthy, the Warriors are trying to solidify their spot as one of the top 5 dynasties this league has ever seen. 

Who wins? For reasons outlined above: better star power, better role players, and the more experienced coach. I, for one, can’t bet against Golden State. Warriors in 7. 

When that happens, this guy might have to make a trip to the tattoo removal shop:

This week’s trivia question:

There’s been one team that has featured at least one former player in the Finals every year for the past 75 years, but hasn’t had a finals appearance itself this century. Name the team.

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About Author

Dan Childs

Lifelong Yinzer, Daniel bleeds black and gold, not black and yellow as the 2010 Wiz Khalifa hit got wrong. An avid NBA and NFL fan, he provides his view on various topics from 'what-if' scenarios to which players you should be rolling out in your fantasy pools week-in and week-out.

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