Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals will see the Golden State Warriors take on the Boston Celtics on Thursday night in San Francisco.
The Dubs are back to the Finals for the 6th time in 8 years, as I predicted before the playoffs, and Vegas has them as small favorites to win it all. I think that is fair.
However, it might not be easy, as the Warriors did show a few worrying signs in this postseason, suffering a couple of very ugly collapses, most notably that game against Memphis, when at one time they were trailing by 55 points. Also, Boston’s excellent perimeter defense and size is something which could give Golden State problems.
On the other hand, you could argue that Boston is being a bit overrated by most experts right now. Yes, this is a good team with a great defense, but at the end of the day they needed 7 games to beat a Milwaukee team without Khris Middleton and BARELY edged another 7 game series against a really banged up (and not overly talented) Miami team. Boston can also struggle to score at times, having less offensive weapons than Golden State, and the Warriors are right behind them in terms of defensive efficiency.
That being said, I fully expect the Warriors to win Game 1. They have home court, I believe they are the better team, but most importantly they have a huge advantage in terms of experience, which is always crucial (and an underrated factor) on the biggest stage. I believe this experience will have the most impact in Game 1.
While the Warriors core and coaching staff has been here and done it all many times before, the Boston Celtics players have a combined total of zero NBA finals appearances, while their (excellent) head coach is a rookie in the league.
I think it will be difficult to come into a hostile Chase Center and outplay and outcoach the mighty, savvy Warriors in your first Finals game. What’s more, the Warriors know VERY well how crucial it is to get a good start, they know the importance of Game 1 and I can see them being extra focused to impose their superiority early on in the series. I believe they are discussing this in the locker room as we speak. It’s these kinds of things I am talking about.
As a matter of fact, Golden State won the first game of the series in 4 of their 5 trips to the finals in the last eight years, and won all 4 Game 1’s which they played at home.
Of course there’s more to a basketball game than just experience, but I do believe this will be a massive difference maker in the opener, along with the home court advantage, in what could be a a tight series between two good teams.
Injury report: The Warriors don’t have any new injuries. In fact, Iguodala, Porter Jr and Payton II have been upgraded to questionable and we might see one or two of them on the court (though I wouldn’t count on it). Wiseman remains out. The Celtics only have Robert Williams listed as questionable, but him missing would be a big blow, as his height, rim protection and lob thread is something Boston relies on big time to hurt the Warriors.
The -3,5 point spread is tempting, especially if you buy half a point and get the -3, but I’m gonna go with the straight win. Both teams have been involved in a few close games this postseason and the Warriors have a great record in them, while the Celtics have been very poor. Experience should also help the Warriors in such a potential situation, so my thinking and analysis here fits more with a straight win bet than a handicap bet. Prediction: Golden State Warriors – Boston Celtics 107 – 100.