As we pointed out here at En Fuego earlier today, the NBA finals start Thursday night. The NBA Finals this year feature the top two defenses in the NBA. Defense wins championships, they say. That certainly rings true this year.
Defense and Offense
The Celtics' defense took a step up since January, as their defensive rating in the final four months of the regular season was 105.2, way ahead of the rest of the league. Incredibly, that rating stayed the same during the playoffs while they beat the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
As for the Warriors, as Draymond Green goes, so does their defense. Their defense plummeted during his absence, as did the stat "kicks to the groin per game."
The Warriors' defense is a full five points down from where Boston's is, but it can be argued the Warriors faced better offenses en route to their Western Conference Championship.
As scoring goes, the Warriors have posted a league-best 116.1 offensive rating in the playoffs. That's about for points above their regular-season mark. Steph Curry has found his groove, Klay Thompson has started to resemble the one who once dropped 37 points in a quarter, and Jordan Poole has emerged.
This series is going to come down to this: can the Warriors' superior offense beat the Boston Celtics' elite defense. I have my prediction.
The Warriors Take The Series
I did not see the Miami Heat taking the Celtics to a seven-game series. Jimmy Butler truly is "that man" and he should be given credit for the way he played. As for the NBA Finals, the wings of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are going to be difficult for Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and a little for Jordan Poole. I would be surprised if Tatum and Brown can shut down Steph Curry. Marcus Smart is the wild card for the Celtics against Steph Curry. Smart will do his best to flop on screens and get contact, but it's hard to sell contact against Curry when (Smart) is bigger than he is. If Curry has an off night shooting the ball, the other wings are going to need to step up.
If Curry and company decide to go by way of the paint, the health of Celtics' Robert Williams is going to be a big factor. His knee has been an issue. When Williams is healthy, he blocks anything and everything in the paint. The Warriors have struggled against rim protectors like Williams, as evidenced by Grizzlies Jaren Jackson Jr. collecting 15 blocks in the six-game series against Golden State. The Warriors score points in their sleep, however, and for at least a few games, Steph Curry is going to show out. Andrew Wiggins is going to need to explode at least twice, too.
Warriors in Six. The Celtics are an incredible defensive team, but the Warriors have found their stride in the playoffs. The Warriors are no slouches defensively, either. If the Warriors were less of a defensively-minded team, I would have picked the Celtics.
MVP: Stephen Curry Curry may have slowed a step in the regular season but he has found his former MVP form. It's an obvious choice, but Curry is going to explode.