Incoming LeBron fan here, I got the Finals match-up I wanted as I never saw Miami having much of a shot against Golden State anyways but for once in these playoffs the Warriors will be tested. If Jokic wasable to go through this season with both Michael Porter Jr and Jamal Murray I think most would agree they would have easily been a top 3 seed in the Western Conference and I still believe Jokic would’ve took them out early if he had his full hand. It was exciting to watch the Grizzlies win without Ja Morant in the second round as they did so usually in the regular season but they needed everyone of Ja’s 47 points in one of their victories early on in that series. Based off what we saw from the Grizzlies without Ja it’s safe to say they are not a better team without him on the floor despite all the talks about his lack of defense and stalling ball movement.
And for as big as Luka Doncic was for the Mavericks against the Warriors we learned that there is no “I” in team and that Luka is a legitimate second option away from capturing his first championship in the NBA, sorry Jalen Brunson. This is nothing new the Warriors have been catching breaks ever since their 5-year run 2015-2019 from Kawhi Leonard suffering a injury in Game 1 of the 2017 West Finals to Chris Paul missing both Game 6 and Game 7 after the Rockets went up 3-2 and had the Warriors on the brink of elimination. It seems like everyone wants to revive the buzz the Warriors carried years ago but I think they’ve lost their mojo and Kevin Durant is no longer around to fill in that gap he once did. The Warriors met a savvy Clipper team in the 2018 playoffs who did not fear them and it took Durant scoring 48 points to bring the Clippers back down to reality, the Rockets also possessed a top 5 defense and almost eliminated them in the Conference Finals that same season.
I watched the Warriors this season and it’s great they have their core 3 of Curry,Klay,and Green all back in the lineup as one or both of the Splash Brothers was out with injury the past 2 seasons but they just don’t have that same grit they possessed years ago. Andre Iguodala and Kevon Looney were both key players in the Warriors rotation in the 2019 playoffs and they will both be available for the 2022 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics but I just don’t see how they beat the Celtics. I always praised Shaun Livingston’s impact off that Warriors bench and it went severely undermined for years, I know Jordan Poole has become a fan favorite for many but he lacks the defensive instincts,size,and post-game Shaun had. Shaun gave the Warriors a different dynamic when he checked in as he was the opposite of Curry, more of a slasher and on ball guard who was lethal in transition both as a scorer and play-maker.
Anyone who has kept up with the Celtics since the second half of the season kicked off saw how they turned around their season by playing a more team-oriented style which was a problem early on in the season as claims of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum not being a potent enough duo to win a championship. Brown and Tatum have led by example by entrusting Smart with helping anchor the offense instead of just having him play defense and chucking up spot up 3’s, credit to Ime Udoka for actually coaching up Brown and Tatum instead of being a doormat of a coach like Frank Vogel was for the Lakers this season. I don’t see how Golden State beats Boston, they just don’t have the size to do it. The key to beating the Warriors is keeping Green,Wiggins,and Looney off the offensive glass and not allowing them extra possessions, the Celtics have the bigs to contain the Warriors and make it a half-court game.
When you have 3 to 4 players who can switch and play above average defense onto just about every player on the other side that gives you an advantage. Tatum,Horford,Grant,Smart,and Brown can all defend whatever the Warriors throw at them, I respect Draymmond as a leader on the court as well as Looney’s tenacity but Horford,Grant, and Robert will be a handful for them. Horford alone can neutralize Draymmond and Grant and Robert are far from being bigs who just clog up space down low, they can both get you 10-25 points scoring around the rim and both seem to take heed from the long-time veteran. I’ve been watching Klay and Curry since the Mark Jackson days, they can both light it up and go off for 30+ but too many times I’ve seen their attack become ineffective as a playoff series winded down. The Celtics can press Klay and Curry and make someone else beat them, kudos to Wiggins for his renaissance in Golden State but he’s noting to scoff at and Poole can get pretty erratic as a shooter.
To conclude I saw enough from the Mavericks in the Conference Finals to understand that they had no one to make them pay for doubling and tripling Luka Doncic down the stretch, as good a scorer as Jalen Brunson is he doesn’t have the arsenal or size to put pressure on the Warriors’s defense neither did Spencer Dinwiddie. The Celtics will make the Warriors pay as Smart,Horford,Tatum,Brown,Grant, and Derrick are all versatile and can get their own offense whenever they do find themselves open when the Warriors attempt to swarm on the perimeter. It helps to have a superstar like Jayson Tatum who a lot like Michael Jordan could score 50-60 points if he wanted but has learned he could be even more lethal by trusting his teammates, not to mention he’s talented enough to match Curry on the offensive side. The Warriors had a good year and it’s cute to watch Klay hit momentum changing 3’s again but they’ll be going home in 5 games in the Finals, till next time.