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NBA

Boston Celtics vs Golden State Warriors: 2022 NBA Finals Game 1 preview

The Golden State Warriors host the Boston Celtics at Chase Center, San Francisco, on Thursday, as the 2022 NBA Finals get underway.

Update:
The Golden State Warriors host the Boston Celtics at Chase Center, San Francisco, on Thursday, as the 2022 NBA Finals get underway.
Ezra ShawGetty

The NBA Finals, the clay from which legends are moulded, gets going tonight (9pm ET). It all begins at Chase Center, the Golden State Warriors’ snazzy home that overlooks the Pacific from its corner in the hubbub of Mission Bay, just a hop, skip and a jump from downtown San Francisco. An arena that opened in 2019, following the team’s move from Oakland, which is only around 10 miles away but on the rough side of the Bay. An arena that devoured more than $1.4bn in private investment as it benefited from the unstoppable flow of money from Silicon Valley to the Warriors’ headquarters.

Follow the action between the Celtics and the Warriors

Warriors into first NBA Finals since San Francisco return

After five Finals in a row (2015-19) that brought three championship rings, the first won by the franchise in four decades, a curse appeared to accompany the Warriors’ switch from the decrepit but unforgettable Oracle Arena, now a mammoth from a bygone age sitting forgotten on the road towards San José. Two years without a place in the Playoffs: an eternity, given the Warriors looked on their way to becoming a thousand-year empire. The dynasty now returns to the battle for the title. In their sixth Finals in eight years, the Warriors face the green of the Boston Celtics. The organisation that won eight straight rings and 11 out of 13 between 1957 and 1969. The mother of all legendary franchises.

As the NBA celebrates its 75th anniversary, it’s fitting that we have a Finals between two giants of the game. Alongside the New York Knicks, the Warriors and the Celtics are two of the three surviving franchises from the league’s inception in 1946 (when it was still known as the BAA). They’re also two of the three franchises that have appeared in the most Finals: including this year, the Warriors are on 12, the Celtics, 22, and the Los Angeles Lakers, 32. And they’re two of the four most successful NBA teams ever: the Celtics are tied with the Lakers on 17, while the Warriors and the Chicago Bulls both have six. By 19 June at the latest, one of those ties will have been broken.

See also:

17-time champions Celtics seek first NBA title since 1980s

The Celtics have spent their entire existence in Boston, where they have become past masters at winning Finals: 17 out of 21, although they hadn’t got this far for 12 years and have only added one title (in 2008) to their huge total since 1986. The Warriors were born in Philadelphia and were the inaugural champions, in 1947. In 1962, they moved some 3,000 miles to set up home in San Francisco. Two years later, they lost the Finals to the Celtics. In 1971, they then crossed the Bay to begin their 48-year spell in Oakland.

In sporting terms, these Finals are also hugely appetising. The Warriors have returned to their pre-Kevin Durant blueprint. Without Durant, they won the NBA title in 2015; with him, they won it in 2017 and 2018. Another triumph would boost yet further the status among the great ‘big threes’ of a Golden State trio who fill the podium of the players with the best win percentage in Playoff history: the irrepressible Stephen Curry; Draymond Green; and Klay Thompson, who returned in January after 941 days on the sidelines, a more than two-year-long nightmare in which serious knee and Achilles tendon injuries came one after the other. The Warriors are a winning machine: since Steve Kerr took over as head coach in 2014, they have triumphed in all 18 Playoff series that they’ve been involved in in the West, and have won 21 out of 23 in total. What’s more, they’ve snatched at least one victory on the road in 26 straight series, and in the 2022 Playoffs haven’t lost a single game on home court (9-0).

Boston, the great champion of years past, has pulled off a resurrection that will go down as historic if it can win the ring. With a rookie head coach, Ime Udoka, and amid rumours of bad blood in the locker room and the possible departure of a star or two (their brightest is Jayson Tatum, a player utterly on fire), Boston looked directionless in the early stages of the season. On 21 January, they had a negative record (23-24) and were outside of the Playoff spots in the East. Since then, though, they have built a defensive wall and, with the best backline in the NBA, have motored towards the Finals. They are one step away from the title, having eliminated Durant and Kyrie Irving’s Nets, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Bucks (the reigning champions) and Jimmy Butler’s Heat. Now, after two exhausting series settled in Game 7, and 14 games in total in May, the final hurdle is a monstrous one: the Golden State Warriors. It’s the venerable old emperor against the king mark II. A new rivalry, but the NBA of old. An NBA whose Finals create legends. Tonight, the 2022 Finals get going.

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