For those unfamiliar with this tradition, I like to make wild guesses before the start of the season or the playoffs or a big series. So I couldn’t let the Finals pass without some SWAGs. Keep in mind, these are meant to be light hearted (emphasis on “silly”) and completely homer-biased (because this is me). So take with whatever size grain of salt you see fit.
Robert Williams III is going to get his bounce back
The extra days of rest before game 1 and between games is going to help Rob Williams (and Al Horford) the most. That’s not to say that he’ll be fully healthy or not playing through some level of pain. Everyone is to a certain extent at this point. But what I’m looking for is more bounce from Robert, which is what makes him lethal on both ends of the court.
If there’s one guy in the world that might have a shot at straight up blocking a 3 pointer from Steph Curry, it would be Rob. If there’s a guy that could make Draymond pay for hedging, it would be Rob with the lob. Very excited to see what he’s going to bring to this series.
Jordan Poole is going to be that guy that Celtics fans fear and loathe
Close your eyes and you can picture the archetype player that has given the Celtics nightmares in the past. A shifty guard that can shoot from outside, drive into the teeth of the defense, and create shot opportunities for himself. Poole is that guy and it is going to be maddening.
With all that said, he’s also the guy the Celtics are going to target on the other side of the ball. While fans are tearing their hair out over the 15 points he scored in a quarter, the Celtics are going to still find themselves up 3 points. How much we can exploit the Poole Party when he’s on defense is going to determine if his plus/minus numbers are plus or minus.
As great as Tatum has been during this playoff run, it feels like there’s another level he can hit. He’s faced some amazing defenses in the last 2 rounds that are tailor made to at least slow him down or take the ball out of his hands.
The Warriors have an elite defense as well, and they do have defenders that they can throw at Tatum. It isn’t going to be easy by any means. But there are guys, in particular on the wing and backcourt, that Tatum will seek out in switches and feast on. And when the Warriors have to start throwing a 2nd defender on him, he’s proven that he’ll make the right basketball read (and sometimes reposition himself to get the ball back again). Expecting big nights from Tatum.
Marcus Smart - Finals MVP
I’ve been predicting this for years now. Might as well keep the tradition alive. It will probably to to Tatum, but if the Celtics are raising another Championship banner, it will likely have something to do with Smart’s matchup with Steph Curry. Obviously this is a “nobody can stop him, they just have to hope to contain him” situation. But if anyone can go full Belichick slows down Marshall Faulk, it would be Smart (with an assist or two from Ime Udoka). And lest we forget that Smart can be a difference maker on offense as well. I for one would not be surprised to see Smart take 11 three pointers in a game and hit 8 of them. So yeah, one more time, I’m making this prediction and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.
Celtics in 7
It won’t be easy. In fact, the Celtics will make it hard. But they just keep coming back. Banner 18 baby! Let’s go Celtics!!!