We’re just two days away from game 1 of the NBA Finals with the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warrior squaring off Thursday night. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green will be going for their fourth championship. As for the C’s, everyone on that immediate squad will be on this stage for the first time. As a franchise, this is the first finals appearance in 12 years for the Celtics.
The Celtics are the only team in the Steve Kerr era with a winning record against Golden State. But with such a high powered offense—the C’s have a tough matchup ahead of them. Here’s what needs to be done for Boston to win.
Marcus Smart needs to guard Steph AND score
This is a tall task to ask from the Defensive Player of the Year in Marcus Smart—but this is absolute must. Two-time MVP Steph Curry is the best shooter in NBA history, the offense starts with him. Smart will need to play physical without fouling. Curry shoots 92% from the foul line, so it’s important for Smart to get in his grill without sending him to the line. However, Curry does struggle against the defense specialist, shooting 29% when playing against Smart.
Now although defense is Smart’s biggest task in this series, that’s only a part of what’s on his plate. With guys like Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins averaging close to 20 points a night for the Warriors, the Celtics need Smart to score as well. That’s not to say Boston needs Smart to just jack up shots, but he needs to be aggressive on both ends of the floor. Smart will arguably play the biggest role in this series.
Jayson Tatum to walk into greatness
During this series we’ve seen the Celtics go through KD, Kyrie Irving, Giannnis, Kyle Lowry, and Jimmy Butler. That’s four champions and two MVP’s. During the previous series, Tatum has made some big shots, but has had some off nights. In this NBA Finals, that cannot happen. Tatum will need to consistently get buckets, crash the boards, and limit turnovers. When Golden State goes on a run it will be up to Tatum to kill their momentum. He’ll get his chance to make a historical moment—it’s up to him whether he rises to it.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics gave up way too many turnovers. The Golden State Warriors thrive off of turnovers. The ‘Splash Brothers’ are so great with running to the corner and putting up 3-pointers on fast breaks, and before you know it, a lead can go from 15 to two. Coach Ime Udoka can only call so many timeouts during runs. It’s up to the Celtics maturity offensively to limit turnovers.
Share the rock
Although the Celtics unbelievable run in the second half of the regular season has largely been due to their sharing of the basketball—they still find themselves playing iso-ball at times. During the Bucks series, Jaylen Brown turned over the ball by dribbling too much and Tatum gets into his hero-ball bag. When the Celtics share the rock—they win games. The Warriors play great defense, they need to be moved off balance with passing before attacking the basket.
Win their home games
The Celtics loss game 6 at home to the Miami Heat despite being up 3-2. Against the Bucks, the C’s lost at home TWICE! The Warriors are the second best team in the NBA at home. The Warriors crowd is rowdy after every block, 3-pointer, steal, Draymond Green basket, and dunk. If the Celtics want to win this series, they can’t let opportunities slip away. The margin for error is small.