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2022 NBA Finals - Staff predictions on MVP & champions

Who will win the NBA Finals? Celtics or Warriors? Who will win Finals MVP?

NBA: Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s going to be crowned NBA Champions (in how many games)? Who will be the Finals MVP?

Mike Dynon: Celtics in 6, with Jayson Tatum winning MVP because that’s what star players do. Steph and the Warriors are their most formidable foe so far in this postseason, but no way am I picking against the gritty Boston group and their 7-2 playoff road record. These guys are not perfect, but they’re also not afraid of any moment. They just became the first Celtics squad since 1974 to win a Game 7 on the road.

Tatum has another opportunity to validate his First-team All-NBA selection. Not just his scoring, but his playmaking and defense have been vital to the Celtics’ playoff run. If Tatum performs well enough to earn Finals MVP, Banner 18 will be going to the rafters in October.

Adam Spinella: Golden State in 6. While we wish we could say differently, this team is a nightmare to guard, they defend incredibly well, have enough shooting firepower that they rarely go cold and are experienced in championship situations.

Combine that with the various banged-up Celtics and it’s hard to predict the series swinging in Boston’s favor. I hope I’m wrong, but the rest, experience, and shooting of the Warriors is unlike what we’ve gone against this postseason.

Jeff Pratt: I haven’t picked against Boston yet, and I won’t start now so I’m rolling with Celtics in 6. This team is built to give the Warriors migraines on defense. The number of pieces Boston has to throw at Golden State’s trio of talented guards should be concerning for Steve Kerr’s side. On defense for GS, outside of Kevon Looney the Warriors are at a clear size disadvantage against Al Horford and Rob Williams. It would be a huge mistake not to mention the Jays, either. At the end of the day, if Tatum and Brown outperform Curry and Thompson, the Celtics will win this series. (edited)

Michael Pearce: My heart says Celtics in 6, but my brain says Warriors in 7. If this series goes to 7, the Celtics have lost in my mind. They need to close the series out in 6 on their home court if they want to win. Avoiding a game 7 in the Warriors’ building is paramount.

It’s not as predetermined as a lot of people believe, but the Warriors are great, have championship experience from the top down, and are a tremendous team. They share the ball well, know their roles and trust each other. They’ll take it in 7, but I’d be so happy to be wrong on this one.

Jack Simone: Celtics in 7. This will be their toughest challenge yet. The Warriors are a well-oiled machine on both sides of the ball, but they haven’t run into a team like the Celtics yet this year. Every team they’ve been has been largely one-dimensional on offense. Nikola Jokic’s Nuggets, Ja Morant’s (and Dillon Brooks’) Grizzlies, Luka Doncic’s Mavericks. They’ll have to stop two of the best individual scorers in the game this series, all while Boston is furiously attacking Curry and Poole. Simultaneously, the Warriors have yet to face a roster with a hole on the defensive end. Sure, they’ve played great defensive teams, but not one where every player in the starting lineup can stick with Curry for a period of time. Golden State could very well win this series, but right now, give me Boston in 7.

Greg Cassoli: The Warriors are an intimidating opponent. In addition to having a trio of flamethrowers (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole) and an elite defense, they’ve got a massive experience advantage AND a significant rest/health advantage. But we didn’t come all this way for me to pick against the Celtics. Boston in six.

Trevor Hass: I’ve gone back and forth on this, and it could easily go either way, but I’m taking Warriors in 6. It feels like they’re going to get at least one more title, and I don’t see them squandering this opportunity. Championship DNA is real, and the Warriors already have it while the Celtics are trying to get there. Regardless of how it shakes out, this has been one of the most spectacular seasons in Celtics history. If they win, it will go down as one of the more memorable runs in NBA history. It’s anyone’s game, but the Warriors prevail and Steph Curry gets his long-awaited Finals MVP.

Jesse Cinquini: Golden State in seven. A clash between the league’s best offense and the best defense, this series will be neck and neck, but I think the Warriors’ championship pedigree and home-court advantage get them over the hump. Additionally, Stephen Curry takes home the Finals MVP award, an honor he probably deserved earlier in his career. (edited)

Bobby Manning: Celtics in 7. The Celtics have played the Warriors well going back years with this core. They can still pile up stops and physically wear down their smaller perimeter guards with switching. Ime Udoka will attack Steph Curry with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, as he did to Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Miami’s weaker perimeter players. Boston’s size will also bother Golden State in its smaller lineups. Not having home court advantage might work well for a Celtics team playing its best basketball away from Boston this postseason. Robert Williams III has more time between games in this series. The Celtics’ defense separated itself from the Warriors’ No. 2 unit late in the year. That’s all not to say Boston will breeze. Why would they? They’ve turned the ball over, gone stagnant for stretches and lost games in unimaginable ways, then they’ve won seven straight games following each loss, two Game 7s and shaken off whatever misfortune comes their way. Those trends do project to bite Boston at some point, and while this could be that moment, the Warriors themselves have to figure out how to control the ball and balance their rotations. This series is as much of a problem for Golden State, still a great team, but one of many including the Celtics. These aren’t the Warriors of 2016-2019, but their allure has the Boston exactly where it wants to be. Overlooked. I’d feel better about a quicker series win with a healthy Williams III, no offensive concerns coming in and without the emergence of Jordan Poole, who could really become a problem for the Celtics away from the ball. The Celtics will need to ride the shooting stretches, but have a smaller lineup themselves with Derrick White that can become as versatile, if not more for this matchup than their bigger starters.

Daniel Poarch: My brain says Warriors in six, but my gut says Celtics in seven. I’m listening to my gut.

This Celtics team has overcome a remarkable amount of adversity during this run through the postseason, and they’ve made a fool out of me in moments of doubt on more than one occasion. Logic says that, after consecutive seven-game series with little-to-no rest, a matchup with the greatest dynasty of the modern NBA era should be the end of the road for this team. Logic has said a lot of things about these Celtics, though, and they’ve proven it wrong over and over again. I’m more than happy to turn off my analyst brain for this series, and the fan in me says Jayson Tatum wins Finals MVP as the Boston Celtics raise Banner 18 to the rafters.

Will Bjarnar: Ugh, do I have to?

I haven’t picked against them yet. I guess I won’t at all. I’ll say Celtics in 6, but if it goes to a Game 7, I absolve myself from all predictions.

See, here’s my dilemma: both of these teams, while in slightly different boats, find themselves at a crossroads. For Boston, this entire run has felt both like a fever dream and a fitting outcome to their epic turnaround this season. However, the East isn’t getting any easier to come out of. Miami will remain a stout opponent going forward, for as long as Jimmy Butler remains happy (that could be four years or four minutes, so don’t come for me if he’s forcing a trade by mid-July). Milwaukee will retain its core and, ideally, the health that helped lead them to a Finals victory in 2021. Brooklyn has Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and despite their issues, those two guys are superstars. Same goes for Philly and Joel Embiid, though bringing back Doc Rivers is a choice I wouldn’t have made. The threats are far and wide across the league, really. Boston’s window may very well be closing after this year.

Then, there’s Golden State, a team that already had its dynastic reign, and yet returns, itching for one more moment of triumph and glory, and I don’t see them backing down, not in the least. Steph Curry looked like the MVP for the first three months of the season. Klay Thompson didn’t play for two-and-a-half years; you don’t think he’s dying to prove his doubters wrong? Draymond Green can’t wait to hold the Larry O’Brien trophy while recording a podcast about how many media members doubted that the Warriors had one more in them. This team seems fit for another chip, even if it’s the last they get as presently constituted.

But as I said: I’ve felt more and more confident with picking the Celtics with every passing series, and I’d be a fool to stop now, despite my fear of the Warriors offense, in particular. If I’m wrong, I’ll have nothing but respect and admiration for the Warriors and the fact that they pulled off yet another epic championship run, doubters be damned. But if I’m right, I’ll be dropping north of $300 at store.nba.com on Celtics’ champs gear. And despite my credit card reaching its limits, I’ll feel like a winner. Win-win, no?

Keith Smith: Celtics in 6. The Warriors haven’t seen a defense like this in months. Any advantage Golden State has rest-wise entering Game 1 will be offset by Boston bringing defensive pressure that the Warriors haven’t faced in a while.

In addition, the Celtics have been road warriors. The environment in San Franciso isn’t the same as it was in Oakland. It’s more tame now, and after years of winning, the crowd no longer seems quite as hungry. It’s also fair to think Boston learned their lesson about kicking away home games. They’ll reward the faithful in TD Garden.

Jayson Tatum will be the MVP. If the Celtics are going to win this series, it’s because Tatum will put his stamp on things with a coming out party as a superstar on the national level. I’ll even go a step further. A Finals MVP for Tatum will be the launching pad to him winning 2023 NBA MVP.

Everything has been building to this. Just like then the Red Sox broke through and just winning the AL wasn’t enough, winning the Eastern Conference isn’t enough for the Celtics. Banner 18 gets raised in Boston next fall.

Andrew Doxy: Who’s gonna win it? The Celtics in 7. Because there’s no other reason why. The Celtics are the bal- I mean, the more complete defensive team.

Adam Taylor: I’m taking the Celtics in 6. Golden State are clearly the strongest opponent this team has faced throughout the post-season, but Boston has historically given the Warriors fits, winning 7 of their last 10 regular-season matchup’s dating back to 2017. I think that the Celtics physicality, and ability to bully their way downhill will be an important aspect to the offense, and something the Warriors will have to adjust to.

Of course, the Warriors are far more consistent in terms of offensive production, and have the championship experience - so the Celtics have to up their game from what we saw against the Miami Heat. But, the Celtics hate to lose, and seldom drop back-to-back games, so they’re in with a fighting chance, and for some reason this team plays better when they’re the underdog.

Jeff Clark: Put me down for Celtics in 7. I have too much respect for the Warriors to think that this is going to be easy. I have watched this Celtics team for too long to think they will let it be easy. But at the end of the day, I think Tatum is going to eat and Brown is going to be a huge swing factor for Boston. Let’s go Celtics.