Contrasting strengths for similar series: NPR


Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, left, and Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams reach for the ball March 16 during a regular season game. The two teams will meet in the NBA Finals starting Thursday night.

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Contrasting strengths for similar series: NPR

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, left, and Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams reach for the ball March 16 during a regular season game. The two teams will meet in the NBA Finals starting Thursday night.

Jeff Chiu/AP

The NBA Finals begin tonight, and the teams will be familiar even if some faces aren’t. The Golden State Warriors made every final from 2015 to 2019 and are back after a few years away. The Boston Celtics haven’t gone this far in a dozen years, but are on their 22nd trip to the Finals as a franchise.

It’s a showdown between searing offense and juggernaut defense — a Cuisinart versus a chipper, as True Hoop’s David Thorpe puts it — both of which have gone from strength to strength since the playoffs began.

Contrasting strengths for similar series: NPR

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors heads for the basket against Maxi Kleber of the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.

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Contrasting strengths for similar series: NPR

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors heads for the basket against Maxi Kleber of the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.

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Neither team was favored to get here – the Celtics, WGBH notes, with an ugly 20-21 record midway through the season, and the Warriors were only the No. 3 seed in the West.

But the Warriors were steady as they fought against Ja Morant’s Memphis Grizzlies and Luka Doncic’s Dallas Mavericks.

Contrasting strengths for similar series: NPR

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics jump in the air before the start of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat. The Celtics would win three of the four games played in Miami during the series.

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Contrasting strengths for similar series: NPR

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics jump in the air before the start of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat. The Celtics would win three of the four games played in Miami during the series.

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The Celtics, meanwhile, swept through the charged Brooklyn Nets in the first round and showed remarkable resilience against the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat, NPR’s Tom Goldman said. morning edition.

“They won three playoff games, won seven road games, including last Sunday in Miami to clinch a spot in the finals,” Goldman said. “Home field advantage [is] such a big problem in the NBA playoffs, and to overcome that seven times? It’s impressive.”

Still, he said, the Warriors are considered to have a narrow advantage in what is expected to be a tightly contested series.

Contrasting strengths for similar series: NPR

Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors shoots a three-pointer against the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals. Thompson returned to the Warriors this year after being out the past two seasons with knee and Achilles tendon injuries.

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Contrasting strengths for similar series: NPR

Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors shoots a three-pointer against the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals. Thompson returned to the Warriors this year after being out the past two seasons with knee and Achilles tendon injuries.

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Golden State will be led by the same core trio that has led them to five finals and three titles since 2015: forward Draymond Green and guards Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, reunited this year after Thompson missed two full seasons due to of injuries.

Contrasting strengths for similar series: NPR

Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors dunks the ball against Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.

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Contrasting strengths for similar series: NPR

Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors dunks the ball against Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.

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Forward Andrew Wiggins, a former first-round pick who failed to live up to the hype in his eight-year career, provided lockdown perimeter defense and added offensive threat in the playoffs.

Contrasting strengths for similar series: NPR

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown celebrate during the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks.

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Contrasting strengths for similar series: NPR

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown celebrate during the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks.

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The Boston Celtics finally broke through on their fourth trip to the Conference Finals since 2016. They’re led on offense by guard Jayson Tatum and forward Jaylen Brown.

Contrasting strengths for similar series: NPR

Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics defends against Max Strus of the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

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Contrasting strengths for similar series: NPR

Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics defends against Max Strus of the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Marcus Smart, who this season became the first guard to win Defensive Player of the Year since Gary Payton in 1996, will be tasked with trying to contain Curry’s near-infinite shooting range. A rejuvenated-looking Al Horford, who will be nearly two years older than any other starter in the series, has been key to the Celtics’ big defensive front line.

Game 1 kicks off in San Francisco tonight at 9 p.m. ET, airing on ABC.


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