Why? Many reasons. I originally had the C's taking this series in 6 games. This was during the 2nd round of the playoffs when Boston was going up against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. I thought the winner of that series would be the eventual champs in 6 games over the Warriors. We've learned alot about each Finals team since then, hence the 7 game adjustment to my pick.
Tatum and head coach Ime Udoka.
JT won the newly awarded Eastern Conference Finals MVP Larry Bird Award for his work vs the Heat. But in all honesty, it should have gone to Jimmy Butler, despite a losing result. Tatum was excellent in many ways, but also underwhelming in as many ways. That's more or less been the story on Tatum for years now. He can look amazing one moment, while the next he looks disengaged and out of the picture. Brown looked more eager to carry the team at most times during the series against Miami and should've received more attention.
Now onto Udoka. Ime has done an excellent job selling this team on the idea of defense and ball movement. He helped turnaround a below .500 ball club to a Finals team. The one criticism I'll have going forward is his gameplan for Al Horford.
Big Al will be making his first appearance in an NBA Finals of his career, ending the longest tenured drought by any active player. Congrats to him it's well deserved.
Too often Udoka tried to create one on one space for Tatum at the top of the arch by sliding Horford to the corner. Miami's physical defense made it difficult for Smart to create passing lanes for any slashers. This left Boston scrambling to create late in the shot clock consistently. Horford needs to cement a presence at the top of the key for passing and screen and rolls against the Dubs in order to create simpler baskets for the Celtics. You cannot depend on outshooting the Warriors in a 7 game series.
I'll wrap up quickly with the Dubs because everyone knows the narrative. Steph will be looking to cement his legacy with a hopeful Finals MVP award, which would be his first. Klay and Poole have had moments in these playoffs, but will need to show up throughout the Finals if Golden State is to win it all.
A last note on these Conference Finals that I feel many has overlooked:
The Warriors looked in prime title form BECAUSE of their opponent, and the Celtics looked sketchy at times for the very same reason. Dallas did a poor job defending the Dubs and made them look confident and every bit as scary as they could look. Meanwhile, the Heat made Boston work for every point they made. I think this has created the image that the Warriors are coming into the Finals more primed than Boston. But I dont believe that's necessarily the case.
This series can definitely go either way, but im sticking with Boston in 7 to complete a historic run by defeating KD/Kyrie, Giannis, the #1 seed Heat, and lastly the Dynasty Dubs (my own nickname).
Let me know what you think in the comments below 💯