Draymond Green may be headed for 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 provided a reprieve in 2019, but on their fifth straight trip to the Finals, the Warriors couldn’t exactly soak it in and enjoy it. This time, with Green reveling in his Western Conference finals victory, the TNT crew wanted to know who he’d prefer to face in the NBA Finals: the Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat.
Green didn’t say who he wanted to face, but he eventually revealed who he expects to face. “I’ll tell you who we’re gonna play,” he said. “We’re gonna play Boston.”
Green gave the Celtics high praise in the process. “You know, Boston caused us problems, especially offensively,” Green explained. “Their defense is incredible.” He has a point. The Warriors and Celtics split their season series with each team winning on the other’s home floor. Boston held Golden State to 199 combined points in those two regular-season contests, and a series between these two squads would feature some defense given that the Warriors and Celtics ranked first and second on that end of the floor in the regular season.
Boston’s success against Golden State hasn’t just been limited to this season, though. Only one team has a record above .500 against Steve Kerr in his coaching career and it’s Boston, who has beaten him in nine of its 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 switches comfortably off of the ball, which should make life harder for the Warriors as they try to run their motion offense. The Warriors are still awaiting the returns of three role players: Gary Payton II, Andre Iguodala and Otto Porter Jr. The Celtics are also dealing with some injuries, but had their full roster available last time we saw them on the court.
We came one game away from a Celtics-Warriors Finals in 2018, when James and the Cavaliers knocked Boston out in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. Those same teams met in the 2017 Eastern Conference finals as well, though in a less competitive series. But now, after several near misses, Boston and Golden State might finally be slated to play for a banner and rings. Unless the Heat can win back-to-back games against the Celtics, Green’s prediction will come to pass.