NBA Finals Pulse: Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics rise, Suns and Harden flop, prediction (2022)

Duane Rankin|Arizona Republic

NBA Finals Pulse: Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics rise, Suns and Harden flop, prediction (1)

NBA Finals Pulse: Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics rise, Suns and Harden flop, prediction (2)

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The Golden State Warriors say they’re back.

Theymissed the playoffs the previous two seasons before returning this year and racing to the finals with a 12-4 postseason record.

Bostonhasfinally broken through with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart leading the way.


With a rookie head coach in Ime Udoka, the Celticsare back in the finals for the first time since 2010.

Game 1 is Thursday in San Francisco as the third-seeded Warriors have homecourt advantage after posting a better regular-season record than Boston, a second seed out of the East.

So let’s not only talk finals, but the highs and lows of the postseason to date.

Wanna bet?

Tipico Sportsbook has Golden State as a 3.5-point favorite to win Game 1 at Chase Center in San Fran.

As for the series, Caesars Sportsbook has the Warriors as -160 favorites over the Celtics (+140) in the best-of-seven series.

Tipico has the Warriors with the same odds to win it all, too.

Finals schedule

Game 1: Thursday at Golden State, 6 p.m. PT, ABC.

Game 2: Sunday at Golden State, 5 p.m. PT, ABC.

Game 3: June 8 at Boston, 6 p.m. PT, ABC.

Game 4: June 10 at Boston, 6 p.m. PT, ABC.

*Game 5: June 13 at Golden State, 6 p.m. PT, ABC.

*Game 6: June 16 at Boston, 6 p.m. PT, ABC.

*Game 7:June 19 (Father’s Day) at Golden State, 5 p.m. PT, ABC.

*If necessary.

Regular season series (Tied 1-1)

Dec. 17, 2021: Golden State 111, Boston (H) 107 – Stephen Curry scored 30 points, hitting five shots from 3 a game after breaking Ray Allen’s record for most career 3s made.

The Celtics placed five players in health and safety protocols while Jordan Poole was in COVID-19 protocols as well for the Warriors, who snapped a five-game skid against Boston.

Tatum scored 27 while Brown added 20.

March 16, 2022: Boston 110, Golden State (H) 88 – Curry went down with a left foot injury late in the first half that had Warriors coach Steve Kerr upset with Smart lunging for a loose ball on the play.

Kerr called it a “dangerous” play as he thought Smart dove “into Steph’s knee” as Curry missed the rest of the regular season.

Smart, Tatum and Brown combined for 72 points in the blowout win.

Postseason starting five

G: Stephen Curry (Warriors). The Western Conference finals MVP winner is averaging 25.9 points in the playoffs, hitting 38% of his 3s. Posting seven 30-point games, Curry began this postseason coming off the bench after returning from thatfoot injury that sidelined him the final 12 games of the regular season.

G: Luka Doncic (Mavericks). The most dominant player in the postseason, Doncic averaged 31.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists in 15 playoff games. He led the Mavericks to an upset overNo. 1 overall seed Phoenix in the conference semifinals before bowing out to Golden State.

F: Jayson Tatum (Celtics). The Eastern Conference finals MVP winner is posting 27 points a game in the playoffs. His signature performance came in Game 6 against defending NBA champion Milwaukee. Down 3-2 in the conference semifinals, Tatum scored 46 in a108-95 win that forced a Game 7 Boston won at home.

F: Jimmy Butler (Heat). Missing a potential game-winning 3 in Sunday’s Game 7 loss to Boston doesn’t diminish how Butler performed in the postseason. Posting four 40-point games this postseason, Butler averaged 27.4 points on 50.6% shooting and 7.4 rebounds in 17 playoff games.

F: Giannis Antetkounmpo (Bucks). Might have to rethink Doncic being the most dominant postseason performer after revisiting how Antetokounmpo played. Averaging 31.7 points, 14.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists, Antetokounmpo had three 40-point games and two 20-rebound games versus the Celtics alone.

Best feel-good stories

1. Klay Thompson – After missing two full seasons with multiple injuries, Thompson returned to action in January.

He showed flashes early, still hasn'tshown consistency with his shot, but has been special in Golden State’s last two closeout games. Thompsonscored 30 in Game 6 against Memphis and 32, hitting 8-of-16 from 3, in Game 5 versus Dallas.

After what he's endured, Thompson deserved that special moment.

2. Ime Udoka – Brad Stevens going from head coach to president of basketball operations drew more attention than hiring the longtime NBA assistant. Having coached seven seasons (2012-19) under Gregg Popovich, Udoka learned from the best, but the Celtics were 16-19 before beating Phoenix on New Year’s Eve. They won 35 of their last 47 regular-season games to set the stage for a run to the finals.

3. Al Horford – His first run in Boston was an overall disappointment. The Celtics fell short of winning a championship and he didn’t play up to expectations. Horford was with two teams the two previous seasons with his one year at rebuilding Oklahoma City ending with him sitting the last 28 games.

Returning to Boston, the veteran forward has had more than a hand in the Celtics reaching the finals.

Remember when Alonzo Mourning came back to Miami after two and half seasons in New Jersey and finally got a ring?

This has a similar feel with the 35-year-old Horford, who turns 36 Friday.

Most disappointing stories

1. Phoenix Suns. Had the NBA’s best regular-season record in winning a franchise-best 64 games, but the Suns lost four of their last five playoff games to the Mavs in seven.

Not only did they fall short of their goal to win a title after squandering a 2-0 lead to the Bucks inlast year’s finals, but the Suns might start next season without restricted free agent Deandre Ayton.

2. James Harden. He made his way out of Brooklyn to pair up with the league’s most dominant big in Joel Embiid, but once again came up short in the playoffs.

Harden scored a total of 25 points in Game 5 and Game 6 the 76ers lost as he shot 9-of-22.

The guy only tooktwo shots in the second half of a must-win Game 6.

3. Brooklyn Nets. Their only saving grace is Boston eliminated them from the playoffs, but they’re the only team to be swept so far in the playoffs.

How does that happen with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on your team?

Now those two will watch their former respective teams battle for a championship.

Run to finals: Golden State (3)

First round: Def. (6) Denver Nuggets, 4-1.

Conference semifinals: Def. (2) Memphis Grizzlies, 4-2.

Conference finals: Def. (4) Dallas Mavericks, 4-1.

Run to finals: Boston Celtics (2)

First round: Def. (7) Brooklyn Nets, 4-0.

Conference semifinals: Def. (3) Milwaukee Bucks, 4-3.

Conference finals: Def. (1) Miami Heat, 4-3.

Read more:What to know about Boston Celtics vs. Golden State Warriors in 2022 NBA Finals

Must-see matchup: Curry vs. Smart

Curry probably has forgiven Smart for that play that led to his injury, but likely hasn’t forgotten.

That’s part of the narrative going into this series.

The bigger storyline isSmart is now the NBA’s defensive player of the year andis looking to nullify the best shooter this game has ever seen.

Three keys

1. Switching. The Warriors and Celtics both have multiple wings who can switch and guard their man, but the team that can take advantage of the better matchups on switches will have a leg up in this series.

2. Draymond Green. He is Golden State'smain playmaker, top defender and showed in Game 5’s closeout victory over the Mavs he can score, too – 17 points, nine assists and six rebounds.

Curious to see what Boston does to prevent him from impacting the game in multiple ways.

3. Last five minutes. Golden State has executed better down the stretch in the playoffs than Boston. Will that continue in the finals?

Prediction: Warriors in 7

Boston’s top-ranked defense in the regular season has traveled in the playoffs.

The Celtics are second in defensive rating behind the Bucks in the postseason.

Having gone through Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Miami and already played in two Game 7s to reach the finals, Boston is more battle-tested than Golden State in this year’s postseason, but they’ve given away games, too.

One will be one too many against the Warriors.

More NBA

Check out Dana Scott's series of stories onPhoenix Suns coaches whose legacies left the greatest impact on the franchise:

—Jerry Colangelo: Monty Williams already among Suns' most influential coaches

Cotton, MacLeod instrumental in building early winning culture

—Stars aligned when Mike D'Antoni was coach

Paul Westphal gave players 'freedom to play'

Have opinion about current state of theSuns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

Support local journalism. Start your online subscription.


Who will win the NBA Finals in 2022? ›

The Golden State Warriors are your 2022 NBA champions, but Las Vegas has already moved on to the 2022-23 season.
NBA Finals odds: Vegas sets Warriors, Nets and Celtics as favorites to win 2022-23 championship.
TeamTitle Odds
Brooklyn Nets+600
Boston Celtics+600
Milwaukee Bucks+750
Phoenix Suns+800
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Jun 19, 2022

Does Boston have a chance against Golden State? ›

Check out these odds, picks and predictions for the contest. The Celtics are a 3.5-point favorite in the game, according to Tipico Sportsbook. Boston is -170 on the money line and Golden State is +135. The over/under for the game is set at 210.5 points.

Who is expected to win the NBA Finals? ›

With only four teams remaining and the conference finals set to begin this week, the Warriors are listed at +130 odds to win the NBA Finals, meaning a $100 bet would win you $130. The Boston Celtics have the second-best odds at +200, followed by the Miami Heat (+400) and the Dallas Mavericks (+650).

Who is better Celtics or Golden State? ›

What the odds say for Celtics vs. Warriors. Tipico Sportsbook has the Warriors at -160 to win the series and the Celtics at +125. As for the result of the series, it has Golden State winning in seven games at +350, followed by the Warriors winning in five games and the Celtics winning in six games each at +450.

Will Warriors win 2022 NBA Finals? ›

Golden State finished the 2022 NBA Playoffs with a 16-6 (.
Golden State Warriors Win 2022 NBA Championship.
Los Angeles Lakers17
Golden State Warriors7
Chicago Bulls6
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Jun 16, 2022

Who is most likely to win the NBA Finals 2023? ›

According to DraftKings SportsBook, the top-six favorites to win the 2023 NBA Championship are: the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.

Are the Celtics favored to win? ›

The Celtics are now heavy favorites at SI Sportsbook to win the NBA title following their Game 3 win over the Warriors that gave them a 2-1 series lead.

Who is the underdog in the NBA Finals? ›

After four trips to the Eastern Conference Finals in the last six seasons, the Boston Celtics have finally punched their ticket to the NBA Finals.

Will the Warriors win game 6? ›

After trailing 1-0 and 2-1, the Warriors won the last three games the NBA Finals, handing the Boston Celtics their first three-game losing streak since December. And they ended the 2021-22 season with a 103-90 victory in Game 6 on Thursday.
The basics.
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Jun 16, 2022

What team is most likely to win the NBA this year? ›

The Warriors are again the defending NBA Champions and among the early favorites to repeat next season after beating the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.

What are the odds the Celtics win the championship? ›

The reported additions of Brogdon and Gallinari have been viewed favorably by oddsmakers. The Celtics saw their 2023 title odds jump to +625 after Friday's moves.

Who is favored to win 2021 finals? ›

2021-22 NBA Preseason Odds
TeamOddsW-L O/U
Los Angeles Lakers+42552.5
Milwaukee Bucks+85054.5
Golden State Warriors+110048.5
Utah Jazz+140052.5
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What's Boston Celtics record against Golden State Warriors? ›

In the Steve Kerr era, only one team has a winning record against the Golden State Warriors: the Boston Celtics. In the regular season, the C's have gone 9-7 against them.

Will Warriors win game 2? ›

Follow Warriors vs Celtics live. The Golden State Warriors won Game 2 of the NBA Finals, defeating the Boston Celtics 107-88. For more, check out The Athletic's news story here.

Who's leading the series Celtics or Warriors? ›

Celtics beat Warriors 116-100, take 2-1 lead in NBA Finals

Is Draymond Green a future Hall of Famer? ›

Draymond Green Is A Future Hall-Of-Famer.

Who was the MVP of 2022 NBA Finals? ›

Stephen Curry finally secures his first Finals MVP after scoring 34 points in Game 6. Stephen Curry has been awarded the 2022 Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award, the first time he's been so honored to go along a pair of regular-season Kia MVP awards.

Will Warriors win title? ›

The Golden State Warriors are NBA champions once again, topping the Boston Celtics 103-90 Thursday night for their fourth title in the last eight seasons. Stephen Curry scored 34 points and was named the Finals MVP as the Warriors claimed the franchise's seventh championship overall.

Who will win NBA Finals MVP? ›

Curry is the consensus favorite to be named MVP of the Finals between the Warriors and Boston Celtics at sportsbooks around the nation. He's the even-money favorite at Caesars Sportsbook. Boston's Jayson Tatum is the second favorite at +180, followed by Celtics teammate Jaylen Brown (+1000).

Who is the best NBA player ever? ›

1. Michael Jordan – Most Points per Game – Most Finals MVP. Who is the best basketball player of all time? Michael Jordan is the best in the top 10 basketball players of all time.

Will Warriors Make playoffs 2022? ›

The Golden State Warriors earned a berth in the 2022 NBA Finals following tonight's 120-110 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.

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