Draymond Green may be heading to his sixth NBA Finals, but that doesn’t mean he’s faced a diverse set of opponents there. His first four trips to the NBA’s biggest stage came against a single opponent: LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Toronto Raptors were given a reprieve in 2019, but on their fifth straight trip to the Finals, the Warriors couldn’t really soak it up and enjoy it. This time, while Green was celebrating his victory in the Western Conference Finals, the TNT team wanted to know who he would rather face in the NBA Finals: the Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat.
Green didn’t say who he wanted to face, but he did eventually reveal who he expected to face. “I’ll tell you who we’re going to play against,” he said. “We’re going to play against Boston.”
Green praised the Celtics in the process. “You know, Boston gave us problems, especially offensively,” Green explained. “Their defense is incredible.” He has a point. The Warriors and Celtics split their season streak, with each team winning on the other’s field. Boston has held Golden State to a combined 199 points in those two regular-season contests, and a streak between those two teams would feature some defense given that the Warriors and Celtics placed first and second at that end of the floor in the regular season. .
Boston’s success against Golden State was not limited to this season, however. Only one team has a record above .500 against Steve Kerr in his coaching career and that’s Boston, which has beaten it in nine of his 16 attempts. The Celtics, first with Avery Bradley and now with Marcus Smart, have had a defensive stopper to throw at Stephen Curry for a full decade. This version of the team walks comfortably off the ball, which should make life more difficult for the Warriors as they attempt to execute their movement attack. The Warriors are still awaiting the return of three role players: Gary Payton II, Andre Iguodala and Otto Porter Jr. The Celtics are also dealing with injuries, but had their full roster available the last time we saw them on the field.
We came one game from a Celtics-Warriors final in 2018, when James and the Cavaliers knocked out Boston in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. These same teams also met in the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals, but in a less competitive series. But now, after several near misses, Boston and Golden State could finally play for a banner and rings. Unless the Heat can win back-to-back games against the Celtics, Green’s prediction will come true.