Warriors vs. Celtics: A Preview of the NBA Finals?

Getty Kyrie Irving has been a big reason why the Celtics are thriving despite the loss of Gordon Hayward.

A month ago it appeared as though the Celtics season was in shambles after Gordon Hayward suffered one of the most gruesome injuries we have seen on an NBA floor. Boston did anything but fold, and have rattled off 13 straight wins since dropping their first two games. Hoops fans have seen the same Warriors-Cavs NBA Finals matchup for three straight seasons, but the Celtics’ start to the season indicates we could be in for a new championship matchup come June.

The Celtics host the Warriors at 8 p.m. Eastern on TNT in what could be a preview of the 2018 NBA Finals. Despite the Celtics hot streak, Vegas has the Warriors as seven point favorites, and the over-under is set at 215.5 points. Boston has been equally hot in Vegas going 12-2-1 against the spread so far this season, while the Warriors are just 7-7 against the spread.

How do the two teams match up? Let’s take a look at how both teams have started the season, as well as the numbers behind both team’s success.

By the Numbers

It should come as no surprise both teams lead the league in plus-minus as the Warriors are averaging 11.9 while the Celtics sit at 8.1. Boston owes a big part of their success to the stellar defense they are playing, as the Celtics have the lowest defensive rating in the league at 95.8. Golden State comes in at sixth with a 101.8 rating.

The Warriors leads the league in scoring at 119.6 points, a full 8.2 points higher than the second team (Raptors) in the rankings. In addition to having four stars on their roster, the Warriors offensive success has come thanks in part to their league-leading 41.3 percent three-point shooting.Golden State has three players (Curry, Durant and Green) in the top 11 of the NBA real plus-minus stats.

Kyrie Irving has not disappointed in his first month with the Celtics averaging 20.6 points, 5.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds while shooting 39.9 percent from behind the three-point line. Irving is playing through a facial fracture, and is wearing a protective mask as he recovers from the injury.

The Warriors are on a win streak of their own having won seven straight games, and 10 of their last 11 games. During this hot streak, the Warriors have wins over the Wizards, Raptors, Spurs, Timberwolves and Sixers. Boston has wins over the Sixers, Bucks, Spurs, Thunder and Raptors during their 13-game win streak.

Starting Lineups: How the Warriors & Celtics Match Up

C Zaza Pachulia Al Horford
PF Draymond Green Marcus Morris
SF Kevin Durant Jayson Tatum
SG Klay Thompson Jaylen Brown
PG Stephen Curry Kyrie Irving

The most exciting matchup is at point guard as Irving squares off with Curry. Irving has been a pleasant surprise on the defensive end since arriving in Boston. He’ll get his toughest test of the season tonight against Curry. The Warriors have much more star power, but the Celtics have been able to survive the loss of Hayward thanks to the play of some of their younger players like Jaylen Brown. Rookie Jayson Tatum will be tested in a big way against Durant.

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