Golden State & Boston clash in the 2022 NBA Finals on KAPP-KVEW (ABC)

NBA Finals
Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum (0) and Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) talk following an NBA basketball game, Saturday, April 17, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

SAN FRANCISCO — The pre-eminent dynasty of modern basketball faces the test of a name stay franchise and league-leader in championships as the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics meet in the NBA Finals for the first time since 1964.

Game One of the 2022 NBA Finals is set to tip-off at 6:00 p.m. on June 2, 2022 live from the Chase Center. Each matchup of the best-of-seven series will be aired nationally on ABC—meaning you can track all the action on KAPP-KVEW.

FROM THE ASHES RISE THE MIGHTLY GOLDEN STATE DYNASTY

Headlining the action is a Hall of Famer working on his fourth NBA title: Stephen Curry, the league’s all-time leader in 3-pointers at just 34. Easily one of the most successful players of his time, Curry remains the focal point of his team despite putting up lower point totals than in previous playoff appearances.

The same goes for his running mate, WSU legend Klay Thompson—a lights-out shooter who is playing in his first playoffs since a string of dastardly injuries that plagued him starting in the 2019 NBA Finals. Curry and Thompson are still the crucial gears grinding the Warriors’ machine along with do-everything forward Draymond Green conducting. However, their greatest success this season has been the ability to integrate new pieces.

Former No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins is no stranger to criticism, but his Golden State tenure has been a resounding success. Once an isolation scorer without much else to offer, the Canadian sensation transformed himself into an elite defender and off-ball menace who makes great use of quick opportunities to score.

Furthermore, sixth-man Jordan Poole—the 29th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft—emerged as a dynamic scorer who fits beautifully into the sets oftentimes run for Curry and Thompson themselves. Though he’s not physically imposing, Poole is gifted in his body control and quickness that are used to burst to the basket for dazzling, acrobatic finishes or to manipulate his defender to create jump shots.

By allowing these younger players to flourish, the Warriors have extended their shelf life and powered through the Western Conference.

Golden State defeated back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets in a five-game gentleman’s sweep. They followed that up with a six-game conquering of an upstart Memphis team that shocked the league this season. To cap things off, they put away the Dallas Mavericks, led by the league’s most promising young star in Luka Doncic, in only five games.

Now, they tackle a Boston Celtics team that went through the gauntlet to finally return to the biggest stage in basketball.

THE BOSTON CELTICS GO FROM ZEROES TO HEROES

If you asked nearly any NBA expert whether the Boston Celtics were a Finals contender back in December, they’d tell you it was farfetched. And yet here they are—a team that completely revitalized its defensive identity since the start of 2022 and asserted itself as the best two-way core in basketball.

Led by a tandem of former No. 3 picks in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, have the best record in basketball since January.

A 6-foot-8 wing with imposing defense and an offensive style based in part on his idol, Kobe Bryant, Tatum made the All-NBA first team and became an MVP candidate at only 24.

Brown, on the other hand, is a crafty and athletic wing with a knack for creating his shot or scoring in quick bursts off cuts and catch-and-shoot jumpers.

Together, they make for one of the best one-two punches in basketball. It certainly helps that they have an incredibly deep and versatile surrounding cast that empowers them to fire away as the team’s offensive fulcrum.

Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart also recently took home the NBA’s annual Hustle Award for the player who leaves it all on the court. Based on the way he plays, there’s a chance that honor has his name attached to it by the time he’s all said and done. A willing passer and fearless scorer, Smart plays for his team on every play. His smother defense against players of all positions is a marvel and will surely leave an impact on Curry.

Down low are Al Horford and Robert Williams—two imposing and deceptively quick big men who anchor the team’s defense by fearlessly protecting the painted area using length and strength.

NBA FINALS X-FACTORS FOR EACH TEAM

For the Warriors to win this series, they will need to boost their effort level on defense—and that starts with Draymond Green. Deemed the quarterback of Golden State’s defense, Green puts everyone in the right place and coordinates their scheme on the court while putting his body on the line to win.

Boston is known for its defense and Golden State is known for its offense, so limiting the Celtics’ offensive output is going to be crucial for the Warriors to stand a chance in the series. That extends from Green to Wiggins, Thompson, and role players like Gary Payton Jr. or Kevon Looney.

On the other side, Boston will need its role players to step up into the big moments as the Warriors inevitably focus their attention on Brown and Tatum. Sixth man Derrick White is as streaky a shooter as they come, but when he’s knocking down shots and getting to the basket, the Celtics reach another level. Furthermore, power forward Grant Williams needs to keep up his hot 3-point shooting when defenders are caught rotating late into the corners.

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