Warriors vs. Celtics: Five NBA Finals games to watch, including Stephen Curry at both ends of the court

The 2022 NBA Finals will feature two teams with elite defenses. During the regular season, the Boston Celtics had the best defensive rating in the league, and the Golden State Warriors were right behind them at No. 2. In addition to a dominant defense, both teams are very deep and extremely well. trained. There’s no shortage of star power in the series either. In addition to Golden State’s All-Star trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, Boston has its own triumvirate of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart.

The series promises to be entertaining and a fitting end to what has been a turbulent NBA season. Here’s a look at five key matchups ahead of the battle between Boston and Golden State.

1. Marcus Smart vs. Steph Curry

This is written. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Marcus Smart takes on one of the deadliest offensive weapons the league has ever seen in Steph Curry. Both guys are point guards, so Smart should be spending a lot of time trying to contain Curry. He will surely receive help in the form of switches, traps, double teams, etc., but the main task will probably fall to Smart.

When it comes to Curry, there’s no such thing as stopping him, so Smart’s job will be to make life difficult for Curry and make sure he doesn’t get too many stares. clean. It’s obviously easier said than done, but if anyone’s up to it, it’s the tenacious Smart. His ability to defend Curry could go a long way in determining who ultimately wins the series.

2. Andrew Wiggins vs. Jayson Tatum

Andrew Wiggins was tasked with being Luka Doncic’s main defenseman in the Western Conference Finals against the Mavericks, and in the NBA Finals he’s likely to have another extremely difficult assignment in the form of Jayson Tatum. Tatum has help around him, but he’s the heart of Boston’s offense and his ability to produce runs is central to Boston’s success.

Just as Smart will get help with Curry, Wiggins will likely get help on Tatum at times, but he’ll likely have to do a lot of heavy lifting. Wiggins’ length and athleticism make him an ideal defender for a player like Tatum, who is long and athletic himself. It wouldn’t be particularly surprising to see Steve Kerr equating Wiggins’ minutes with Tatum’s to some degree, especially if he’s able to have early success.

3. Steve Kerr vs Ime Udoka

The secondary chess match between the head coaches is always one of the most intriguing storylines before the final, and this season is no different. The difference in experience between Steve Kerr and Ime Udoka is staggering. Kerr is coaching his sixth NBA Finals, as Golden State did it five years in a row, from 2015 to 2019. He coached 121 playoff games and won 89.

Udoka, meanwhile, is coaching his first Finals as a rookie head coach, and he has just 16 games of playoff coaching experience under his belt. It will be extremely interesting to see how much of this disparity of experience materializes over the course of the series, and how much it will eventually matter.

4. Klay Thompson vs. Jaylen Brown

As starting shooting guards for their respective teams, Jaylen Brown and Klay Thompson will likely spend a lot of time protecting each other, and their matchup will be an important one as both are heavily relied upon to provide assist scores for their teams. Brown is Boston’s second offensive option behind Tatum, and Thompson fills that role for Golden State, along with reserve guard Jordan Poole.

With a ton of focus on Curry and Tatum, these secondary scorers could rock the entire series with a few good — or bad — plays.

5. Boston’s attack on Steph Curry

We already know what Steph Curry is going to provide on the offensive end for Golden State in the Finals, but he’ll have to bring it on the defensive end as well. As CBS Sports’ Brad Botkin highlighted in his recent article, the Celtics will likely chase Curry defensively throughout the series. While the Celtics don’t really have a weak spot for the Warriors to target on the defensive end, Curry is going to have a target in the back when Boston gets the ball.

Even though Curry has improved defensively over the course of his career, he’s still far from the top flight, and Boston will be looking to exploit that. They’ll like to try and isolate bigger, more athletic players like Tatum and Brown on Curry, and he’ll be tasked with defending. Also, by constantly going to Curry, the Celtics hope to wear him down so he has less energy to hurt them on the offensive side. Golden State has to hope Curry is up to the task defensively.

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