And then there were two… Only the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors remain as they prepare to do battle in the 2021-22 NBA Finals.
“It will take a Paul/Suns-like capitulation for the Warriors not to make the NBA Finals from here.” – Week 31 In Review
The Golden State Warriors let only one game slip as they skipped past the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.
Klay Thompson caught fire in Game 5 to finish with 32 points in the 120-110 win. He is hitting his straps at the right time following an up and down return from a lengthy injury break.
Highest Playoff Win% by a player
1. Draymond Green – 70.5%
2. Klay Thompson – 70.5%
3. Stephen Curry – 69.5% pic.twitter.com/m3tpK6mSzW
— NBA Muse (@NBAMuse24) May 29, 2022
Given the age of their stars, getting the result as early as possible allows the likes of Thompson, Steph Curry and Draymond Green to rest ahead of the NBA Finals. With their opponents now set, the Warriors are $1.64 favourites to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Celtics Def. Heat
The Boston Celtics needed seven games and a win on the road to beat the Miami Heat to advance to the NBA Finals.
While they stumbled late as the Heat scored 11 straight before Jimmy Butler took a three-point shot with a shot profile that will be debated for days to come, the Celtics got home to win 100-96. In doing so, the Celtics completed one of the greatest in-season comebacks in NBA history.
The Celtics were 11th in the East in January. They’re now in the Finals.
The greatest in-season turnaround in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/IIqch7UBLH
— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 30, 2022
They were below .500 when the calendars turned onto 2022. As Jayson Tatum said to Jaylen Brown as they celebrated their Game 7 win, the talking heads said they couldn’t play together. Now, the pair are playing in their first NBA Finals. So too is Al Horford who in his 15th NBA season features in the season-deciding series for the first time.
It has been an incredible comeback for the Celtics. Marcus Smart turned things around for them on the defensive end before being recognised as the Defensive Player of the Year. Offensively, Tatum has grown into the role as the first-choice scorer. He finished up with 26 points in Game 7 while Smart and Brown added 24 points each.
— Evan Turner (@thekidet) May 30, 2022
The Celtics now face the tough task of beating the Warriors. A side that dominated throughout the regular season and one that knows exactly what it takes to win the Finals. Experience is so valuable in these spots, and while the Warriors are also introducing a handful of key contributors to the NBA Finals for the first time, those players will feel a lot more comfortable within a group that has been there and done it all before.
However, the Celtics continue to surprise. Any time they have been kicked down this season, they have jumped straight back up.
Boston is out at $2.30 to win the NBA Finals ahead of Game 1.
All-NBA Teams Named
The NBA released their All-NBA teams earlier in the week.
Notably, Giannis Antetokounmpo became the first player in NBA history to make four consecutive All-NBA First Teams unanimously. NBA MVP, Nikola Jokic, finish alongside Luke Doncic with 476 First Team votes.
Devin Booker’s inclusion in the First Team ahead of Steph Curry caused a stir. So too did LeBron James being named way down in the Third Team. Overall, though, all three teams look roughly as expected.
The Kia All-NBA First Team is made up entirely of players age 27 or younger for the first time since the 1954-55 season.
More ➡️ https://t.co/nzFuNn37iT
Voting results ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/62uiQpWv4o
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) May 25, 2022