The Golden State Warriors are back in the NBA Finals for the sixth time in eight seasons after missing the postseason each of the last two years. The Boston Celtics’ young core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart finally broke through and is now making its first Finals appearance.
It’s the series everyone wanted — once the conference finals were set — and it should be great basketball. But we’re not here for narratives. We’re here to bet, so let’s get started with our NBA Finals preview.
Any analysis of a series involving the Celtics begins and ends with their defensive prowess. They have allowed just 106.0 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time minutes this postseason, the second-best defensive rating behind only the Bucks (who played just 12 games). The Celtics’ + 7.4 net rating in non-garbage time is the best in these playoffs, 2.1 points ahead of the Warriors, who rank second. The Celtics’ perimeter defense has been incredible, allowing the lowest frequency of wide-open 3-point attempts this postseason (14.6%) while limiting opponents to 32.2% on 3-point shots overall. Their switch-heavy style of defense is a big reason why they limit open looks from deep, and that matches up extremely well with the Warriors.