Both teams are up to this final although few expected from them before the season. This is especially true of the Warriors, who have missed the playoffs for the past two years, and entered the season without Klay Thompson, who is still recovering from injuries that caused him to miss two seasons.
But Steve Kerr’s team entered the season furiously, with 9 wins in their first 10 games, and with a win over Phoenix for Christmas Golden State went to a 27-6 ratio. Stephen Curry played at MVP level, Draymond Green got in the right form and dominated the defense, and two players were particularly important to the Warriors ’new look - Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole.
Wiggins and Poole
Wiggins, as the first pick in the 2014 draft, did not manage in the role of superstar and leader of the Minnesota team, so he was looking for a new opportunity in Golden State. He won it, but he also fought for it because he was ready to sacrifice himself and become at best the third option in attack, while in defense he played on the most dangerous opponents.
That brought him his first appearance in an All-Star game, in the top five.
Jordan Poole’s story is special. He was selected in the 2019 draft with the 28th pick, in the first two seasons he adapted to the Warriors system to explode in this one.
At the age of 22, Poole with 12 points from last season came to an average of 18.5 points this season, with at least 30 points in as many as 8 games. Until Thompson returned to the team, Poole replaced him as Curry's "splash brother", and when Klay finally stepped on the floor and showed that he had not forgotten to play basketball, the two-headed beast only added another head.
Boston entered the season in a different way. Brad Stevens moved from the bench to the office, and was replaced by one of his favorite NBA assistants, Ime Udoka, for whom this is his first season as head coach. Boston did not bring in big reinforcements last summer, but the return of Al Horford and the acquisitions of Dennis Schroder and Josh Richardson seemed to be enough to get the Celtics to join the fight for the very top of the East.
But it didn’t look like that at the start of the season. The Celtics did not play well, they were criticizing Udoka, but also the biggest stars - Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown. With the defeat of Milwaukee, their ratio on Christmas was 16-17, and the media was full of articles about the necessary changes in the team, and the big ones.
It was written about who should go, Tatum or Brown, but Stevens was wise enough to see the bigger picture. With several trades, he cleared the locker room, and when the team accepted Udoka’s settings, they became unstoppable.
Boston recorded a ratio of 34-12 in 2022 and came in second place in the East with an incredible impact on both sides of the floor. Both teams entered the playoffs with high expectations, but still few considered them the main favorites.
They were Milwaukee, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and even Memphis, but in the end only these two teams remained. And they will start solving the issue of NBA league winners from tonight.