ESPN Analyst Gives His Ideal Celtics Finals Matchup

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics.

Getty Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics.

ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith believes that the Boston Celtics would be one of the teams involved in the ideal matchup for the NBA finals. On May 11, 2022, he brought up on ESPN’s First Take who he believes would be the ideal opponent for them if and when the Celtics make it to the final round of the NBA playoffs. He believes that the Golden State Warriors would be the ideal matchup for the Celtics because of how entertaining that matchup would be.

“I think that… Boston vs. the Warriors would be the ideal NBA Finals,” Smith said. “I want to see some offensive firepower in the NBA Finals.”

When former Celtic Kendrick Perkins responded by saying he’d rather see the Phoenix Suns face off against the Celtics in the finals, Smith retorted saying that if those two matched up, it would be low-scoring affairs that are not fun to watch. While Smith wants some defense to be played, he’d prefer high-octane offense above all else.

“I don’t want to see an 85-80 game,” Smith said. “I really don’t want to see that. I don’t want to see 90-85 games. I don’t want to see that. I want to see some more offense. I don’t want (the finals) completely devoid of defense. I want some.”

Something to keep in mind is that Phoenix had the fifth-highest offensive rating in the regular season, scoring 114.2 points per 100 possessions, according to Compare that to the Warriors, who had the 16th-highest in that same category, scoring 112.1 points per 100 possessions.

While the Warriors have bumped that up to 117.3 points per 100 possessions in the playoffs, they have the second-best overall offensive rating behind, who else, the Suns, who have an offensive rating of 118.5.

A Celtics-Warriors Finals Would be Fun Given Their Recent History

Even though the last time the Celtics and the Warriors matched up in the playoffs was in the 1964 NBA Finals – back when the Dubs were called the San Francisco Warriors – the two franchises have formed a little rivalry over the past half-decade or so, dating back to 2015.

The Celtics almost handed the Warriors their first loss of the season when they lost 124-119 in double-overtime on December 12, 2015. Winning that game put Golden State at 24-0 record-wise to start the season, the best start in NBA history. The Warriors then lost to the Milwaukee Bucks the very next day on the latter end of a back-to-back.

The Celtics got their revenge on April 1, 2016, when they defeated the Warriors in Golden State 109-106. Not only was it the Warriors’ first loss at home all season. but it stopped a 54-game winning streak at home for them.

Since then, the Celtics and the Warriors have treated viewers to multiple highly entertaining games over the years. That includes one where the Celtics came back from being down 17 points to beat the Warriors 92-88 on November 16, 2017.

A few months later, a scoring duel between Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry ended with the Warriors beating the Celtics 109-105 on January 27th, 2018.

Those two teams duking it out every time they matched up almost seemed like a regularity. On January 26th, 2019, they again went toe-to-toe until the Warriors ultimately prevailed 115-111 in Boston.

From 2015 to 2019, it really felt like both teams were going at full throttle to beat the other. In the last few years since then, both have had either injury-riddled or COVID-plagued seasons that prevented them from potentially squaring off in the finals. If they were to meet up on the league’s biggest stage, it wouldn’t be hard to think that their matchup at full strength would be just as entertaining as it’s been in the past.

The Last Warriors-Celtics Game Ended With Controversy

On March 16th, 2022, the Celtics came up victorious against the Warriors on Golden State’s home floor, beating them 110-88. While it was a big road win for the Celtics, the headline after the game was not as much about who won but more about what transpired during the game itself.

With less than five minutes to go in the first half, Marcus Smart dove for a loose ball to prevent the Celtics from turning it over. In the process, he landed on Stephen Curry’s foot, which took Curry out of the game.

Many on the Warriors’ side believed Smart made a dirty play when going for the ball because they believed that he intentionally landed on Curry’s foot to take him out. It’s understandable why the Warriors would be angry about what happened, especially since Curry missed the rest of the regular season as a result of that play, but anyone who’s watched Marcus Smart knows that he will dive for a loose ball every time there’s one on the floor no matter the consequence.

It’s awful that it ended Curry’s regular season, but those who have watched Smart throughout his career know that plays like those are unfortunate accidents and nothing more.


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