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NBA Finals 2022: Warriors vs. Celtics Preview, X-Factors, and Prediction

In so many ways, the Warriors and Celtics are a Finals showdown that felt inevitable, the culmination of one organization striving to stay ahead of a strategic curve that was established by the other. The individual matchups, quarter-to-quarter adjustments and broad schematic charm that will be seen throughout this series underlines an egregious amount of skill and intelligence. Both teams know what they are, which, from series to series, is whatever they need to be.

From a narrative perspective, the intrigue writes itself. Despite so many new faces who weren't around the last time Golden State won it all, this group should still be described as the old guard; established dominance, full of pride. They're a trendsetter simultaneously trying to reclaim and hold on to what was once theirs. Four titles in eight years, all with the same head coach and three main characters (not including 38-year-old Andre Iguodala), would be iconic.

Boston's road included several ups, downs and detours, but after seeing what Golden State constructed, the winningest city in history spent the last half decade steadily rebuilding with and around a core that could, if everything broke right, one day hang with the decade's defining franchise, a team that illuminated how valuable two-way versatility was about to be.

All together, this championship series has the making of a classic. It's also extremely hard to predict. The Celtics and Warriors met only once after the trade deadline, in a game on March 16 that didn't have Andrew Wiggins and saw Curry suffer a foot injury that sidelined him for the rest of the regular season. There's a little bit to be taken from that night, but too much has since changed to treat it like a projection of what's to come. Every relevant player on both sides is banged up/energized by the three playoff rounds they just endured to reach this stage.

Let's start with what may be the defining question of this series …

Can the Warriors score in the half-court against this Celtics defense?

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