2019 NBA Finals Matchup: Celtics vs Warriors

2019 NBA Finals

Oblivious is the word I would use to describe someone who does not already know which two teams will be competing against each other for a championship ring. If you are that oblivious, well, read the title again. The absolutely loaded Golden State Warriors will have minimal interference once again to reach the finals for a 5th consecutive year, especially after signing DeMarcus Cousins to a 1-year/$5.3 million dollar contract that absolutely stunned the basketball world. Representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals will be the star-studded, young-gunning, electric Boston Celtics. The Boston Celtics just came off a successful year just barely missing the finals after having four players out due to injury including Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving, Shane Larkin, and Daniel Theis. Permitting injury, the Boston Celtics will sail across smooth waters to the finals with the return of their all-stars and the absence of LeBron in the East along with the Philadelphia 76ers having a non-impactful offseason.

Shall we get into some analytical data now? I know data is either loved or hated, but in this instance since the two teams only play each other twice a year and also will not meet in the playoffs until the finals, it is important to have data to use to measure the two teams side by side.

NBA Stats

Listed above are a few stats to compare side by side defensively and offensively. As you can see from the data it’s a story of two tales: One team being the best in the league defensively versus a team that is the best offensive team in the league. Now let’s take a look at last year’s season series against one another.

NBA Stats

The series split 1-1 with notably Boston missing a key piece in Gordon Hayward in both games. Game one, the Boston Celtics held the Golden State Warriors to 88 points. 88 points. 88 points. Do you get it yet? 88 points. Game 2 Boston did lose but within a 4-point game and also holding GSW under their average rating of 113.6. Now let take a look at individual matchups.

NBA Stats

Looking into the series we can only assume we will have a gritty matchup that can potentially go seven games deep which I believe any fan of the game would enjoy. If you are still oblivious, then you have not realized that I obviously believe the Boston Celtics have the potential to handle the back-to-back champs Golden State Warriors.

Kyrie Irving will absolutely give Steph Curry the works. If you believe the small statured Steph Curry can play defense against a more athletic and shifty PG then you are oblivious. Unlike Steph, Kyrie has the ability to share the ball more frequently and even have an opportunity of grabbing a rebound. Kyrie Irving can cook anyone in the league and most definitely Curry. Kyrie can shoot from wherever on the floor and has the ability to drive to the hoop without getting the ball smacked into the stands which is usually the outcome when Curry decides to take one to the hole.

Kyrie Irving and Al Horford
USA Today Sports

Quick note on DeMarcus Cousins. Everyone is freaking out about Boogie signing with GSW, but according to multiple reports and Cousins, he will not be available to play due to his Achilles injury until possibly January or February which is right before the playoffs. Who is to say Cousins will even be the same or an impact at all. Having possibly one month to gel with a team that is already molded will be tougher than most fans tend to believe. I have all the respect for Boogie but, realistically thinking you have to take in the fact that one month into a season and then playoff time will be hard work for Steve Kerr to get Cousins worked into or even at worst Boogie will not be physically in shape to handle the pace of GSW after being out for over a year.

Kevin Durant is great. That is all I will say since he needs no introduction or analysis. KD is great.

Kevin Durant
Getty Images

Jayson Tatum on the other hand is molding into some monster that no one ever saw coming. During his rookie year, he showed to be one of the most clutch, poised, 19 year old man I’ve ever seen play. I honestly believe, and these aren’t just my heads talking, that Jayson Tatum will be a top 10 player to ever play the game. The guy is mixed with the blood of Kobe, the body of LeBron, (without the extra weight which according to reports has been putting on along with a significant increase in strength gained) and the mind of Albert Einstein, yeah, the one who created the theory of relativity. Jayson Tatum is a player to marvel at, and within the moment will play above all the greats including Kevin Durant. He dunked over 12 people this past season, and I can only see that increasing with notable players being on his poster including Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, and The King which Tatum has dethroned, LeBron James. Jayson Tatum will be a force to be reckoned with in the NBA Finals with the possibility of being a 30+ Pts a night type of player.

Genius is the word that comes to mind when you think of Brad Stevens who was just snubbed the COTY award after leading his team of rookies and kids a few minutes away of the NBA Finals after missing two all-stars and two role players. Brad Stevens in the Finals will be equivalent to Bill Belichick in the Super Bowl. The man is brilliant including his style of play with entrusting his team to morph into a defensive unit of soldiers who will score on every single ATO.

All in all I believe that the teams have not changed much from the previous year after the signing of DeMarcus Cousins because I believe he will not be as much of a factor as he was in New Orleans. Boston was well suited to match-up with the Warriors and with players returning to full health the Boston Celtics have the jump on everyone besides Kevin Durant. The Boston Celtics defensively will rattle the Golden State Warriors defensively and players like Irving, Tatum, and Hayward will score 25+ points in each of these Finals games.

Just wait, the 2019 NBA Finals Matchup between Boston and Golden State will result with a game seven victory for Boston, adding another banner to TD Garden which already holds the single most banners held by any team in the history of NBA.

Which Warrior would you put on another team to make this league more fair? I know mine.

Golden State Warriors

When I found out that the Warriors were picking up DeMarcus Cousins, I freaked. Plain and simple. My friends texted me asking how I was holding up. Others texted telling me they weren’t even going to watch basketball next year. Oh, and even SportsCenter put this tweet up:

Yikes.

This tweet got me thinking about the Warriors even more. Surely enough, I found myself digging through Google to check out some future Warrior’s salaries.

warriors salary

To recap:

Klay Thompson      – FA in 2019/2020

Steph Curry             – FA in Never

Kevin Durant          – FA in 2020/2010 (Player Option)

Draymond Green   – FA in 2020/2021

Andre Iguodala      – FA in 2020/2021

Shaun Livingston   – FA in 2020/2021

Demarcus Cousins – FA in 2019/2020

 

In the not-so-distant future, this team could face a crossroads. Klay will command a max contract, yet he has stated in the past that he could consider taking a discount. Draymond, however, has been rumored to hold out for a max contract. KD is on the books for a couple more years, and most likely will opt out next summer because he qualifies for a 5 year/200 M+ deal. Iggy and Livingston, two key rotation pieces, will be around a little longer. Cousins is looking to make good on his prove it contract. Oh, and when Steph leaves Golden State it will be in a casket.

In other words, the Warriors’ mainstay players have done nothing but state their desire to play with Golden State. Yet, they will be buried in the tax if they decide to pay each of  their core guys (Green, Klay, KD, Steph) the max. There may be some financial decisions to make going forward, from both the team and player perspective.

After looking at these figures, I got even more mad. This team is going to destroy NBA parity for the next year or two. Then I got an idea. Why not engage in a little offseason hypothetical?

Imagine all of the four core Warrior players were free agents RIGHT NOW. Every team in the NBA who doesn’t have cap space, has declared that they would use the amnesty rule or work a trade to gain the space. Which Warrior would you take off of this team to create more parity in the League?

Who would it be, and where would you send them?

Some quick notes on your options:

 

Klay Thompson

A 28-year-old, 6’7″ sniper who is an elite defender and underrated playmaker, Thompson has been the eye of NBA imaginists for a while now. We love to picture him playing in Madison Square Garden, being the focal point of a team who needs one more star.

What does Thompson do for the Warriors? Dude takes a little less than 50% of his shots from behind the arc, providing the floor spacing which allows for KD, Chef, and Draymond to find those vintage backdoor cuts. Take a glance at his career 3P attempt rate.

Advanced Table
Season Age Tm 3PAr
2011-12 21 GSW .373
2012-13 22 GSW .437
2013-14 23 GSW .425
2014-15 24 GSW .420
2015-16 25 GSW .469
2016-17 26 GSW .470
2017-18 27 GSW .441
Career .438
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/5/2018.

Draymond Green

Everybody knows that Draymond is the catalyst of this offense. He routinely leads the Dubs in assists despite not having even the 2nd highest usage rate. What’s more, Green is the leader in the clubhouse. Oh, and let’s not forget he is arguably the best defensive player in the League right now and one of the greatest defenders in history as well.

If you take Draymond off of this team, can it find a way to keep its offensive motor running as smoothly? Who would be their defensive quarterback?

 

Kevin Durant

A former MVP and scoring machine, KD has worked on his defense as well. When the game slows down in the Finals, and your team needs a bucket, KD will go and get you one. Ask Cleveland how that felt during Game 3 in last year’s Finals. He is a constant threat for the 50/40/90 club.

Per Game Table
Season Age Tm FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT%
2017-18 29 GSW 9.3 18.0 .516 2.5 6.1 .419 .889
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/5/2018.

The Warriors won a ring without Durant but, they were also down 2-1 in that 2014-2015 Finals, and had to face Kyrie for a single game. Durant assures them rings, even though they could probably win one without him.

 

Steph Curry

A basketball sensation who will pull up from anywhere, the two-time MVP has not lost a step. He shoots just about 10 threes per game and defenders must stick to him wherever he is on the court. Steph has even more gravity than Klay Thompson, if that is even possible.

What would happen if you took Curry off of this team and replace him with an average point guard? Maybe a Jeff Teague type of player. Do they still reach the Finals? Probably. And that is a testament to how good the Dubs personnel is beyond Steph Curry.

 

What would I do?

I don’t have the heart to take SC and remove him from the town he once revived. Curry is the most responsible for this dynasty, and perhaps Golden State’s most beloved son.

Kevin Durant has only been in town for a couple of years. Let the man live. Plus, amongst Jalen Rose whispers on Bill Simmons podcasts, KD may be destined to shine somewhere else in the future anyways.

I would love to see Klay be the man somewhere else. Imagine him in New York? MSG would go nuts every night for this man. Yet, I can’t break up the Splash Brothers. Just can’t do it.

Draymond, however, is someone I could envision departing the Warriors. Why? Green does so much for this club on both sides of the ball. If he leaves, we truly get to see how smart of a coach Steve Kerr is. Can he adjust both the defense and offense accordingly? Can the remaining Warriors step their games up? Where would I put Draymond. New Orleans. It works from an Xs and Os and karma perspective. AD, Jrue, Randle, Moore and Green is an awesome starting lineup who could give teams matchup problems during the Western Conference playoffs.

So what’s your answer? @Mattesposito @ProCityHoops