Some names will always appear in basketball’s battle for the title “greatest of all time”. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James all have genuine claims to the title. However, if the Golden State Warriors win the NBA Final this year, it’ll be hard to keep Steph Curry out of the conversation.
Sure, he’s not a giant like the other players on that list. He’s not as flashy on the court, nor as audacious in the press. However, he is one of the most consistent scorers in basketball history, and he knows when to step back and let his teammates shine. He’s almost singlehandedly taken the Warriors from being an afterthought to being a genuine sports dynasty. Now, he’s up against Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics.
The biggest stat for the Celtics to keep an eye on throughout the Finals is going to be turnovers. In the post-season, the Celtics are 13 and 2 in games where they have fewer than 16 turnovers. In games with 16 or more, however, their record falls to zero and 5. That’s a dramatic reversal, and it speaks to the importance of ball control for Boston’s entire gameplan.
“That’s been an ongoing theme in the playoffs so far,” says Celtics coach Ime Udoka. The team knows it, too–Al Horford told reporters “I know we can prevent a lot of those. In order for us to [have] a better chance of winning, we have to cut those down.” But it’s one thing to know what you need to do, and another to actually execute that plan.
Golden State knows that Steph Curry is going to show up and start dominating the court. The question for the team now is which version of Draymond Green they get for the rest of the series. When Green is in the zone, he’s one of the best agitators in basketball history. When he’s not, the Warrior crumple, even with Curry hitting threes like there’s no tomorrow.
“If I outthink you, I can win,” Green told reporters of his playoff strategy. “Then to take it a step further, the playoffs are way more physical. They let you hit during the playoffs. They let you get hit during the playoffs. I’m totally fine with getting hit if I can hit. The playoffs [are] just a totally different brand of basketball.”