The NBA Finals matchup is set, with Stephen Curry and the Warriors taking on Jayson Tatum and the Celtics. Who will be crowned champs? The Crossover staff makes its picks.
Howard Beck: Warriors in 7
This should be fun … and tense, and taut and very, very close. The Warriors, making their sixth Finals appearance in eight years, are still a scoring machine with Steph and Klay Thompson, now aided by young guns like Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins. The Celtics will be, by far, the best defense Golden State has faced this postseason. And as stout as the Warriors D is, they’ll have their hands full with Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The series might just come down to intangibles like Finals experience and home court advantage, both of which favor the Warriors.
Chris Herring: Warriors in 7
Boston matches up extremely well with Golden State, enough to where it’s hard not to pick the Celtics here. The defense is certainly good enough to fluster the Dubs’ offense into turning the ball over at times. And I think Boston will be able to target Jordan Poole’s defense. Yet I think Golden State benefits from its experience on this stage, and does just enough to win, leading to Steph’s first NBA Finals MVP.
Rohan Nadkarni: Warriors in 7
Boston’s defense will give the Warriors trouble. At the same time, Golden State has been incredible with both Steph and Dray in the lineup this season, and I think the Dubs have a deeper team as well. The Warriors can hold up defensively, and they’ll present Boston with the most advanced offensive attack the Celts have seen all postseason. Add in the experience edge, and I like Golden State’s chances.
Chris Mannix: Celtics in 6
Boston is banged up, and experience in these moments does matter (hello, Oklahoma City). But the Celtics’ defense might be the best the NBA has seen in the decades, and the mental toughness this team has shown in the conference playoffs offers optimism that Boston won’t be overwhelmed in the Finals. I think the Celtics force a lot of Golden State turnovers (who doesn’t?), find ways to attack Curry and Thompson and win on their home floor.
Michael Pina: Celtics in 6
The Warriors have not gone up against a defense as formidable as Boston’s in these playoffs. It’s a shape-shifting, switch-happy group that has no clear point of vulnerability. Everyone is a plus defender. Everyone is versatile. There is no obvious weakness. Golden State has the No. 1 offense in this postseason for a reason, though. With Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green on the court, they flow through actions at a speed that makes most opponents feel vertigo. But in so many ways, the Celtics were built to slow them down. And if the Warriors want to prevail, they’ll likely need to hit more tough shots than they’re used to, while hoping Boston goes cold on the other end.
John Gonzalez: Warriors in 7
The Celtics have run through an absurd collection of talent to reach this point, dispatching the Nets (everyone’s fashionably wrong postseason pick), the Bucks (last year’s champs) and the Heat (the No. 1 seed in the East). As much as it pains me, Ime Udoka’s crew is playing as well as anyone possibly could. But I’m a sucker for continuity. As our SI teammate Howard Beck just outlined, Steph Curry and the Warriors have been together for a long while now, and they’ve been to the finals in six of the last eight seasons. There’s a lot to be said for experience and understanding what to expect on the biggest stage.
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Ashley Nicole Moss: Warriors in 6
Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, Wiggins—and that’s just the (possible) starting lineup! THIS TEAM IS DEEP. Not to mention the intangibles, the biggest being Championship DNA. You have a core of vets who have been to the Promised Land multiple times together; that experience and energy is infectious to the ones who haven’t. In terms of the Celtics, a beyond talented team, but it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen an inexperienced team fold under the bright lights of the NBA Finals. Additionally, I don’t think the Celtics are going to have an answer for someone who moves without the ball the way Steph Curry does. However, I will say, the Warriors do have a habit of waiting until the third quarter to flip the switch, and if Boston’s “Jays” catch fire, there won’t be a comeback. This is why I believe Boston gets two wins in this series, both at home.
Robin Lundberg: Celtics in 6
I am already regretting this as I type it, but I’m going to go with the Celtics. I am hesitant to doubt Steph Curry and the Golden State pedigree but the Warriors have not faced a team like Boston. The Celtics ability to defend and spread the floor with size gives them an advantage in this matchup, one I think they will win if they can limit self inflicted mistakes.
Jeremy Woo: Warriors in 7
I don’t feel certain Golden State is the better team here. I just feel like the Warriors are going to find a way. Boston’s defense is going to make life difficult. But if we’re splitting hairs, the experience and urgency Golden State brings into what should be a long series gives them my nod.
Ben Pickman: Warriors in 7
The 2022 Finals feature the regular season’s top two teams in terms of defensive rating and set up to be a grueling series for both franchises. The margins between the two are slim, but I give the Warriors the slight edge because of both home court advantage and how Boston has performed in late-game situations these playoffs. Per stats.NBA.com, Boston has a -1.5 net rating in clutch situations this postseason and has seen its offense regress to just 94.7 points per 100 possessions. Golden State’s offense, meanwhile, has flourished in such situations. Expect games to go down to the wire—and the series to go the distance—with the Warriors’ proven ability to execute in tight being an eventual differentiating moments factor.
Michael Shapiro: Celtics in 6
Golden State has yet to see anything like this Boston defense in the 2022 playoffs, and the Celtics shouldn’t suffer the same turnover woes that plagued them in the Eastern Conference finals. This should be a long series. A seven-game classic is very much at play. But after surviving a slug-fest against Miami, this feels like Boston’s time on the mountaintop.
Elizabeth Swinton: Warriors in 7
The Celtics have taken down top stars on their road to the NBA Finals, but the Warriors’ defense and depth will provide a challenge. Golden State has yet to face a defense as strong as Boston’s this postseason, but it will have time to figure out how to crack the Celtics’ pressure. Jayson Tatum will lead the way for Boston, but the Warriors have experience and home court advantage on their side to take the title in a tight series.
Kyle Wood: Celtics in 7
Boston has played Golden State the best of any team over the last several years. That matters, and so does the added rest granted by the Finals schedule that disproportionately benefits the Celtics, as well as their elite three-point defense, phenomenal postseason road record and advantage inside on offense and defense. A healthy Boston team can give the Warriors fits over a seven-game series.
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