Tomorrow night, the undefeated Golden State Warriors come into Boston to face off against the Celtics. The Warriors are 23-0 and have dominated just about every opponent up to this point. The Celtics are coming off a very impressive win over the Chicago Bulls last night, 106-100.
The Warriors are the hands down favorite to repeat as NBA Finals champions. They have the reigning MVP in Stephen Curry, who is also favored to win the award again. Curry has a stud collection of pieces around him, including Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. They are chasing history of most consecutive wins in basketball history of 33, set by the 71-72 Lakers, and are in good shape to beat the 95-96 Bulls for most wins in a season with 72.
The Celtics will clearly be the underdog in this game, but they still have a sizable chance of knocking off the Warriors, so here are my keys to the game.
Be Physical With Stephen Curry
To beat any elite team, you have to cut off the head of the snake. The head for the Warriors is obviously Steph Curry. Teams get too worried when Curry has the ball in his hand. He’s a great player and I fully expect Avery Bradley to be on Curry for the majority of this game. Avery is one of the best on-ball defenders in all of basketball. He’s not afraid to get into Curry’s airspace. The Warriors love the high pick and roll with Curry. If a defender goes under the screen, he’ll pop a three. If they go over, he can make a move or two and find his way to the basket or dish it out. If you switch, it’s over. Avery has the speed and tenacity to fight through screens. He’s not afraid to foul and be physical. Curry isn’t a tough player physically, give him a bump or two and you can get to him. Avery has the tools to keep Curry relatively quiet.
Control The Glass
Obviously a key in any game, but controlling the boards will be huge for the Celtics. Defenses crash to the glass and if they don’t get there, they’re left in a scramble to get back to their man. If Andrew Bogut can corral offensive rebounds and dish them out to knockdown shooters like Curry, Thompson or Draymond Green, it’ll be a long night for the C’s. The Celtics aren’t a great rebounding team, but Jared Sullinger and Amir Johnson should play big minutes and get some big time boards for the Celtics.
Use Depth to Your Advantage
The Celtics are the deepest team in the NBA, hands down. 11(!!) players average more than 10 minutes per game. This will be an up and down game. Golden State loves to push the pace, and the Celtics can play that game if they want to. The Warriors are without Harrison Barnes and could be without Klay Thompson who has a sprained ankle and will be a game time decision. If these guys are out, the bench will run thin, and in an expected fast paced game it could be a big boost for Boston. No Marcus Smart will hurt Boston, but they’ve played well without him. Expect the second unit to see some big time minutes, especially Evan Turner, former Warrior David Lee, and Kelly Olynyk.
The Celtics do have some advantages over the Warriors in this matchup. The previously mentioned depth will be huge. Also, the Warriors are without head coach Steve Kerr, even though Luke Walton has done a great job in his place. But for my money, Brad Stevens is a top three coach in the NBA already. Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers are the only two coaches who I would rather have. He knows his personnel and knows where he best matchup is.
The Celtics and Warriors also play a similar style. They covet spreading the ball, both rank in the top five in assists, and love big men that can stretch the floor. The Celtics have some of the best shooting big men in the league in Olynyk and Sullinger. If they can pull Bogut and Green away from the boards, they’ll put the Celtics in great shape.
Boston is a much better defensive team than the Warriors. Previously mentioned Avery Bradley is an elite defender, as is Jae Crowder on the wing. Boston leads the league in steals per game with 11.1 per game. Boston ranks seventh in the NBA in points allowed with just under 98. The Warriors are ranked 16th in that category with 101.2. If Bradley can defend Curry, and Crowder can take away Andre Iguodala, that will help Boston immensely. Amir Johnson is also a plus defender, and he has the mobility to make Draymond Green less effective. If those three can defend like they can, the only thing Boston needs to do is hit shots.
The Celtics are a confident team and have every reason to believe that they can hang with the best the NBA has to offer. They’ve already beaten some of the NBA’s elite like the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and Atlanta Hawks. I didn’t even mention Isaiah Thomas, who leads the Celtics in points and assists. But he quite frankly isn’t the key tomorrow night. It will come down to effort defensively. Even writing this article made me excited for tomorrow nights game. It should be a great game to watch, but don’t surprised if the Celtics win. Remember, you read it here first. THE BOSTON CELTICS WILL BEAT THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS TOMORROW NIGHT.