After a hard-fought six-game series, the Golden State Warriors won the 2022 NBA Championship. Stephen Curry was named the Finals MVP for the first time in his career to cap off a spectacular series.
Coming into the series, the biggest question for the Warriors was whether or not they could keep up with the young, athletic Celtics. They were led by First Team All-NBA player Jayson Tatum and Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart.
They had several difficult series to make it out of the Eastern Conference, sweeping Kevin Durant and the Nets, as well as beating the Bucks and Heat in seven games each. Their incredible defense along with the timely shot-making of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown brought them to the Finals.
While the Warriors were certainly older, their experience proved advantageous. They have been to the Finals six of the last eight years, now winning four of them. Despite having several new players not with them for the previous six appearances, their experience was their x-factor.
After dismantling the Nuggets in five games, struggling for a couple of games against the Ja Morant-less Grizzlies in six games, and then defeating the Mavericks in six games, the Warriors came into the finals determined to add another Larry O’Brien Trophy to their collection. While defense appeared to be the advantage for the Celtics, it was the Warriors' defense that ended up stealing the show in the Finals.
The Warriors' defense, led by Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins, forced the Celtics to turn the ball over time and again, leading to easy points on the other end of the court. This also kept the Celtics from getting anything going during large stretches of games. While Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led the Celtics' offense, they were the ones responsible for most of the turnovers. Whenever they drove into the lane, there would always be hands reaching for the ball trying to grab it, and oftentimes, the Warriors were successfully able to steal it. This was a common theme in each of the four games that the Celtics lost, and their carelessness with the ball was impossible to overcome.
Even though Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both could have played better at times in the series, they are both very young and have a lot of time to grow and learn from this experience. In fact, the majority of the Celtic's key players are still young. This loss will only help them going forward as now they know what it takes to win an NBA Championship.
If Ime Udoka can help these two stop their careless mistakes, Boston will be in a great position next year. They showed flashes of excellence in this series, winning easily in games one and three. During those games, they got excellent contributions from the entire team, including Al Horford and Derrick White. In games that they lost, it was these key players that failed to help carry the load offensively for Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. After a full offseason of rest and recovery, expect the Celtics to be back stronger and hungrier than ever.
The Warriors had a couple of things in common throughout their four victories: their defense played great, and Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Curry played great.
Throughout the series, Curry averaged 31 points per game. This is despite not hitting a single three-pointer in game five. Whenever the Warriors needed a basket, or they needed someone to create some offense, Steph rose to the challenge. In-game four, when the rest of the team struggled offensively, and it looked like they were going to go down 3-1 in the series, he exploded for 43 points to help bring the series 2-2 going back to Golden State.
Andrew Wiggins, despite having very little playoff experience, was spectacular. He was an animal on the glass, grabbing double-digit rebounds in several games while adding some much-needed scoring when the rest of the Warriors were struggling. He was also key to helping limit Jayson Tatum as his isolation defense was phenomenal. He never let Tatum feel comfortable on offense, stifling the Celtics' offense.
The rest of the Warriors players also were great at keeping the Celtics in check defensively. Gary Payton II, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Kevon Looney played hard on defense to keep the rest of the Celtics from getting anything going on offense.
Despite being much older than they were in 2015, 2017, and 2018, the Warriors did what they had to do to keep themselves in games and come away victorious.
Their age may be detrimental to their future contention, however, they have a lot of young, talented players on the roster. Even though Steph, Klay, and Draymond are all in their 30s, the young talent of Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, Gary Payton II, along with some young guys who didn’t play meaningful minutes in the finals, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and James Wiseman, will all be back, and they are only getting better.
With all of that being said, you definitely can’t count the Warriors out quite yet for the foreseeable future. They are even the early betting favorite to win the title in 2023, followed closely by the Celtics and Nets.