On Saturday night, 178 days after the conclusion of last season’s NBA Playoffs, the Boston Celtics, who are now the league’s top team, and the Golden State Warriors, led by Stephen Curry, square off.
Before we go into the specifics, let’s take a little look back to June. Before Curry and the Warriors won their fourth championship in eight years, the Celtics led the series 2-1 and maintained a six-point advantage at halftime of Game Four at home.
In that game, Curry scored a scorching 43 points, and Andrew Wiggins was in outstanding form. Although the Dubs’ star player has altered little since last summer, the squad is in a drastically different position.
Six months later, for the first time this season, the Warriors meet the Celtics. Their opponents are 19-5 and leading the East Conference, but they’ve had a rough start to the season.
So, we’ve predicted the four major talking topics before to the blockbuster action, which will be shown live on Sky Sports Arena at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday…
“The Boston boys”
Not just the league’s greatest squad, but also the league’s finest offensive duo: Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Tatum is performing at an MVP level, while Brown is more than keeping pace.
This is familiar territory for Tatum. This season, he has hit this mark five times, including the season opener against the Philadelphia 76ers when he scored 35 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Sunday was Brown’s most recent climb of the same height.
Obviously, it would be extremely simple to attribute Boston’s success only to the duo, but when the club enters the weekend with a 19-5 record, it is difficult to ignore.
Warriors’ Worrying Second Act
If there is a single issue that stands out for the Warriors this season, it must be the secondary unit.
With Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green on the court, things have appeared very functional. Worrisomely, even when one of the starters is changed, the awful performances begin to grow.
This accounts for around one-fifth of the Warriors’ total season minutes, with Jordan Poole or Kevin Looney often filling in.
Poole’s preseason contract deal with $140 million has not been an absolutely disastrous decision. For instance, he scored 23 points against the Indiana Pacers in a futile attempt to ignite a comeback that never materialized. In the loss to the Jazz, he scored 36 points, a career-high.
Nonetheless, he ceases to exist if he is not permitted to shoot threes. The same is true for Looney. The secondary unit’s remaining members have not fared much better.
James Wiseman was banished to the Warriors’ G-League club (though he has since been returned) to concentrate on his defense, while Jonathan Kuminga’s minutes have been drastically decreased when work ethic problems surfaced.
Steve Kerr has few options in this regard. Moreover, there will be little tolerance for error against a confident Boston squad.
Curry in Crisis?
Has Curry had a horrible day? That is uncommon. In fact, he is currently averaging and on pace to surpass his MVP-winning season’s statistics.
Only Tatum and Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks may surpass him. And yet, in the loss to the Pacers, on another crowded NBA schedule, youngster Andrew Nembhard did more than just upset Curry; he also defeated him.
In 38 minutes, he scored only 12 points on 3-for-17 shooting from the field and 2-for-10 from deep. Although there is reason to believe Curry was playing with an ankle issue, he was unable to overcome the Pacers’ tenacious defense.
Nembhard also played tough man-to-man defense on Curry, which might be a point of attack for the Celtics this weekend.
Nembhard may have shown Boston how to ensure that the Dubs’ assault remains silent, despite the fact that Boston is not the type of team that presses aggressively and instead prefers transitional offense.
Curry is not alone in having doubts about whether he will start games this week. On Wednesday, he was joined by Green, who was battling a flare-up of his hip condition.
Green missed games in December and January due to this, but he spent the winter hard rehabilitating his issues. It is unknown whether he will replace Poole in the timetable rotation.
Wiggins, meanwhile, missed a second consecutive week due to a right abductor issue. Before Monday’s game, Kerr emphasized that Wiggins was OK and would not be sidelined for long.