I’ve been following both the Warriors and Celtics rather closely this season and I get all the arguments for the Warriors having an advantage being that they played in 5 straight NBA Finals 2015 through 2019 butthey are in for a rude awakening with this tested Boston Celtics. We really should evaluate the Warriors based on the times they were without Kevin Durant which was 2015,2016, and 2019 and they felt beatable both 2015 and 2019. 2016 LeBron James had to happen the last 3 games and LeBron looked so great the 2015 Finals I think he would’ve only needed Kevin Love to knock them off, a healthy Kyrie Irving and he likely finishes that series in 5 games. 2019 they lost Klay Thompson in the 4th quarter as he was on his way to 40+ points before being tripped by Danny Green on a fast-break dunk opportunity which derailed the Warriors. We also should not forget that although Kevin Durant went down in the 2019 Finals his scoring helped give the Warriors momentum Game 5 as they stole a pivotal game in Toronto before being closed out Game 6 at home.
This time around yes they do have Klay Thompson back but I don’t feel what they have around Steph and Klay will be enough in the Finals this time around. I watched Jordan Poole at Baylor and have seen his improvement after struggling his first season with efficiency at the NBA level and being demoted to the G-League and I’ve also seen Andrew Wiggins since his days at Kansas. I think the stage will be too big for Andrew Wiggins and I could be wrong but one thing that will always ride him is he fell short of becoming the player he was supposed to be, ask Jimmy Butler who saw right through him in Minnesota and noticed he lacked what it took to be great. Steph and Klay have always been great shooters and I guess we could qualify Curry as a great scorer but Klay is far from it, Klay lives and dies by the 3. Andrew Wiggins gives the Warriors a different dynamic as he can score from the post and has more of an arsenal than both Klay and Steph being that he is more athletic and has more wingspan but mentally I don’t believe he has what it takes to go through this Celtic wall. Enough about the Warriors let’s talk about the Celtics.
No one spoke about them prior to this season kicking off, they gave Kemba Walker a 4-year deal and everyone believed he would be that 3rd pierce with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to help them get over the hump. Kyrie Irving promised to re-sign and left them high and dry and I just thought Kyrie felt Tatum and Brown weren’t going to be good enough to help show everyone he can get it done without former teammate LeBron James. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum made it past the second-round twice since his departure and are now vying for the championship and I think they see the light at end of the tunnel going into these Finals. The Boston Celtics stood the course and kept their prized draft picks in Tatum,Smart,and Brown and never gave up building around them, Danny Ainge was responsible for drafting all 3 and although he is no longer in control they’ve conducted themselves as a first class organization regardless.
The locker room needed a change, most forget Marcus Smart,Jayson Tatum,Jaylen Brown,and Al Horford all played under ex-coach Brad Stevens who is now President of Basketball Operations for quite a few years. Al Horford did not play on the 2020 Celtics but they have taken their lumps and I believe are ready to win it all this time. Marcus Smart,Jaylen Brown,and Jayson Tatum all performed well in The Bubble 2020 and took the Miami Heat 6 games and Al Horford was not around at that time but Brad Stevens made sure to bring back his services as Brad knew how much of a veteran leader and voice he was in the locker-room for them through his tenure as head-coach of the storied franchise. As I said the locker-room needed a new voice which Ime Udoka has been able to provide this season, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown wanted to be coached and have taken headance to the former Gregg Poppovich disciple. They got off to a slow-start and it was brought up whether they should move on from the Tatum-Brown experiment leading up to the trade deadline. More specifically Jaylen Brown trades were discussed, I don’t think at any moment Tatum’s name should have been brought up as he was signed to be the franchise player.
Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum needed to learn to trust their teammates and Ime Udoka made sure he got that message across to them as the 1st half of the season approached. Marcus Smart could see Tatum and Brown’s iso heavy ways and we must tip our hats off to Ime Udoka for patching up the recurring issue which had them well under .500 leading up to the deadline. Brad Stevens was the genius he exactly looks like understanding they needed a boost in scoring off the bench and so he went and traded for former Spurs guard Derrick White who is a coach’s dream as a guard, coachable,a disciplined defender with a skill-set that flourishes were ball movement is emphasized. As Ime Udoka said before the Bucks-Celtics series kicked off, if he could tell Giannis and his Bucks anything it was that you were going to have to beat an actual team. Yes Giannis is a dominant basketball player but one man can’t beat an entire team, we witnessed that as LeBron’s efforts weren’t enough the two Finals he lost to the Warriors 2015 and 2018.
To conclude I know there is a lot of hype with the rebirth of the Warriors as we got to watch the Splash Brothers suit up together once again this season which became a forgotten sight but I’m predicting the Celtics win this series in 5-6 games. With all the recognition Giannis received this season and all the comparisons of his legacy to Jordan’s, the Celtics took him out and they also took down a Jimmy Butler who was seeking revenge after a first-round sweep the previous season. That is not mentioning Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, two of the top 10 most skilled players to ever play at the NBA level. We could make excuses about Brooklyn’s lack of coaching with Nash or Middleton missing the second round but the Celtics got the job done regardless. They are more battle tested not only leading up to these current Finals but have been battle tested for practically 5-6 years equal to the Warriors. It will be a great series but Celtics in 5, till next time.