In 1964, the Boston Celtics defeated the (then) San Francisco Warriors 4-1 in the NBA Finals. At the time, you could be forgiven for assuming a rematch would be coming. With Wilt Chamberlain leading the way and a young Nate Thurmond ascending as a possible front-court partner, the Warriors should’ve controlled the Western Conference for years to come. Instead, the Warriors dealt Chamberlain to Philadelphia, and their second chance at the Celtics was put on hold. There were close calls in 2017 and 2018, but Boston lost in the Eastern Conference finals in both seasons. Now, finally, 58 years after that original matchup, Golden State and Boston will play for a championship yet again.
This time, it won’t be interior behemoths like Chamberlain and Bill Russell fighting for the crown. Stephen Curry, the greatest shooter of all time, leads the Warriors against two of the league’s best young wings, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Even if they’ve never met in the playoffs, there’s already a fair bit of history between these teams. Boston is the only team in the NBA with a record above .500 against the Warriors under Steve Kerr at 9-7. Marcus Smart was involved in the play that injured Curry earlier this season. This series might not have the star power Russell vs. Chamberlain had, but it figures to be a much closer matchup. Here’s everything you need to know to tune into Game 1.
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Featured Game| Golden State Warriors vs. Boston Celtics
Boston: The Celtics lost Game 1 against the Heat. They lost Game 1 against the Bucks. Were it not for a miraculous final possession, they would have lost Game 1 against the Nets as well. The Celtics are notoriously slow starters, and that’s a problem against a Warriors team whose unique style typically takes a game or two to adjust to. The Warriors are 4-1 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals under Kerr, and they’re undefeated in Game 1 this postseason. Can the Celtics finally start a series off on the right foot?
Golden State: The Warriors faced a heavily undermanned Nuggets team in the first round, a Grizzlies team with little playoff experience and no Ja Morant for half of the series in the second, and a Dallas Mavericks team nobody expected to make it that far in the third. There’s no such thing as an easy run to the Finals, but the Warriors haven’t really been tested yet. Boston has been the NBA’s best team since January, and their defense is built perfectly to contain Golden State’s motion offense. How do the Warriors adjust to finally facing an opponent with as much talent as they have?
There is nothing wrong with picking Boston to win the series, but Golden State should have a major advantage in Game 1. They’re at home. They’re healthier. They’ve had far more rest. And their unique playing style makes them a nightmare to play against in series openers. The Warriors should take Game 1 before the Celtics mount a response in Game 2. The pick: Warriors -3.5