THE explosive and experienced Golden State Warriors will look to overcome the suffocating Boston Celtics defense when the teams meet what is expected to be a highly competitive National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals.
The Warriors, who are playing in their sixth Finals in eight years and who have won three titles over that span, have home court advantage and will be the more rested team after finishing off the Dallas Mavericks in five games in the previous round.
The “Dubs” could also be at full strength for Game One on Thursday. Gary Payton II, Otto Porter, Jr., and Andre Iguodala were full participants in practice on Tuesday after they all missed time with injuries this postseason.
But the team’s success will ultimately hinge on the performance of the sharpshooting “Splash Brothers” duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Curry has been outstanding during the first three rounds of the playoffs and Thompson, who missed two full seasons with leg injuries, is finding his three-point stroke at just the right time.
Thompson dropped a game-high 32 points to close out the Mavericks in an ominous sign for the Celtics.
The Jayson Tatum-led Celtics boasted the top-rated defense in the league this season and will have a big size advantage over the Warriors.
Defensive Player of the Year guard Marcus Smart and towering center Robert Williams will look to disrupt the Warriors pass-heavy offense every trip down the floor.
Warriors forward and defensive anchor Draymond Green said what is unique about the Celtics is the ability of Smart and Williams to cover for any lapses in coverage by their teammates.
“Robert Williams erases mistakes at the rim… and Marcus Smart covers up mistakes beneath the rim,” Green said.
“That makes for a great defense.”
But ultimately the tandem of Tatum and Jaylen Brown will need to outduel Curry and Thompson if the Celtics want to hang championship banner No. 18 at TD Garden.
Despite the franchise’s storied history in the league, nobody on this Celtics team has ever played in the Finals. But that inexperience does not worry Boston head coach Ime Udoka.
“I don’t think any of our guys are awed or intimidated by the moment at all,” Udoka said on Tuesday.
“We understand what it is. We know the opponent in front of us, and for us as always it’s been business as usual, going on the road, not fazed by that at all.”
Game One is on Thursday in San Francisco. — Reuters