After a long and entertaining playoffs, the Boston Celtics will face the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals

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Cody Feldman, Contributing Writer

On May 29, the NBA Conference Finals came to a close, setting up an NBA Finals matchup between the Golden State Warriors of the Western Conference and the Boston Celtics of the Eastern Conference.  While both of these teams have played extremely well throughout the playoffs, they have taken very different paths on their journey to the finals.  The Warriors have been operating on more rest, as they have only played 16 games this postseason; on the other hand, the Celtics have played 18 games in the playoffs, with each of their last two series going to seven games.  Not only have the Celtics played more playoff games, but they also had a record of under .500 for the majority of the season, while the Warriors were a top contender for the entire season.  This series should be competitive as the Warriors’ lights out shooting faces off against the Celtics’ lock down defense.

Golden State’s road to the finals began with a series against the Denver Nuggets.  Nikola Jokic, back to back MVP winner, was red hot coming out of the regular season, with averages of  over 27 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists.  However, the Warriors seemingly unstoppable guard trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Jordan Poole led them to a series victory in five games.  

“The Golden State Warriors have revived their elite offense, and that is how they have been able to get so far in the playoffs,” said freshman Jordan Golan.

  The next test for Curry and company were the young and upcoming Memphis Grizzlies.  The Grizzlies fought a bit harder than the Nuggets did, but still ended up losing in six games.  The loss can be blamed by the absence of Ja Morant, who missed games four, five, and six due to a knee injury many believe was caused by Jordan Poole himself.  After defeating Memphis, only Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks stood in Golden State’s way.  Despite excellent play from Doncic throughout the entirety of the playoffs, the offensive firepower of Golden State was too much for the Mavs to handle, and the Warriors won the series in five games en route to their sixth finals appearance in eight years.

3,000 miles across the country from Oakland, the Boston Celtics battled through multiple seven-game series to get to this point.  However, their first series was not as difficult as many thought it would be.  The Celtics swept the Brooklyn Nets in four games, a surprise to many who had thought that Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and company would put up a fight.  Next, the Celtics battled the defending champions – the Milwaukee Bucks – who were led by former MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.  The Bucks, who were missing star Khris Middleton for the series, fought hard and forced a game seven, but Boston was able to pull through and take the series.  The Celtics then had to face the one seed in the Eastern Conference – the Miami Heat.  These two teams showcased elite defense throughout the regular season and playoffs which foreshadowed their hard-fought series.  After an exhausting effort from Jimmy Butler, the Heat fell to the hands of the Celtics, and Boston advanced to the NBA finals.  

“The Miami Heat need to pair another star alongside Jimmy Butler if they want a chance to win the Finals in the future,” said freshman Zach Miller.

  Boston’s success has been headlined by excellent scoring from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who combined for 68 points in game six, as well as elite defense from the whole team.

This year’s NBA Finals should be entertaining because the Celtics and Warriors have such contrasting styles of play.  The Warriors are a team that can outshoot any opponent in the NBA, led by the Splash Brothers.  Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are considered to be two of the greatest shooters of all time, and it is often so that teams are unable to keep up with the amount of three pointers they make.  The Warriors have also been getting quality minutes from a younger and less established player in Jordan Poole.  Poole has averaged 18.5 points per game over thirty minutes this season, and he has not slowed down in the playoffs.  This gives the Warriors an excellent scoring guard trio, which is important due to the frequent defensive collapses when veteran forward Draymond Green is not on the floor.  Meanwhile, the Celtics’ identity is elite defense.  Point guard Marcus Smart won Defensive Player of the Year this season, and received perimeter help from lockdown teammate Jaylen Brown.  Frontcourt members Robert Williams, Al Horford, and Grant Williams have been holding it down in the paint, contributing to Boston’s tenacious defense all year long.  It remains to be seen whether elite shooting or fiesty defense will be the main factor that determines the winner of this year’s NBA championship.

“I’m excited to watch Marcus Smart guard Steph Curry because as they say, defense wins championships, so I’m hoping that’s true,” said junior Rachel Braunschweiger.