The Golden State Warriors will host the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday night at The Bay, and it could very well be one of the tougher challenges the Warriors have faced.
Granted, Steph Curry and the rest of the Dubs have taken on arguably the best player of this generation, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James, for four straight seasons, but the Celtics appear to be a tougher matchup for Curry.
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The Celtics have been the best team in the league since January. They started the season 25-25 but finished 27-6. They possess numerous skilled defenders to throw at Curry. They have Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, as well as Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Robert Williams III to harass him.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith believes this Celtics team is Curry’s toughest Finals challenge as Golden State seeks its fourth title in this run that began in 2015:
I think that’s the hardest part. … That Cleveland Cavaliers team was as lethal as it was and in the end, weren’t those Boston Celtics on defense. Not all year round. They were a top 10 defense team. I think if I remember correctly they ended up eighth or seventh overall and I know it. Iman Shumpert, we all knew what he could do defensively. JR Smith was nothing to sneeze at. Obviously you had Tristan Thompson and other guys. Kyrie Irving, you get it all, Kevin Love, you saw it all, but at the end of the day, if you look to Boston, you saw there were elements in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ defense, let’s say a Kyrie for example Irving Kevin Love to a lesser extent, which could at least be exploited a little. In the case of the Boston Celtics, who can you exploit defensively? Their reigning Defensive Player of the Year is Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have height, athletic ability, agility etc etc and we know what Al Horford and Robert Williams III bring to the equation. So if I at least look at the starting five and then think of Grant Williams and Derrick White coming off the bench and what they bring to the table, I would argue, JJ (Redick), I get where you’re coming from. I totally agree with you that the blueprint was set in 2015, 2016 but if I had to give a defensive rating between this team and this Boston Celtics team I would choose this Boston Celtics team as I understand you so be right draft.
Is this the hardest challenge in the finals for Curry and the Warriors 🤔 @Stephansmith believe it.
“I think that’s the hardest thing. … The Cleveland Cavaliers team, deadly as they were and down, weren’t those Boston Celtics on defense. pic.twitter.com/CSzHMue1jd
— First Take (@FirstTake) June 2, 2022
Smith is right in the sense that the Celtics will not be a pushover in this series. Smart, Tatum and Brown will make life difficult for Curry and even Klay Thompson on the sidelines.
However, Curry and the Warriors have seen a range of coverage over the years, and they’ve had success. So it’s only up to them to make the necessary adjustments and move forward.