Celtics vs. Warriors NBA Finals Game 1 Predictions and Free Pick

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Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors celebrates after the 120-110 win against the Dallas Mavericks to advance to the NBA Finals in Game Five of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Finals. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/AFP

The 2022 NBA Finals tip off this Thursday as the Golden State Warriors host the Boston Celtics in Game 1.

The Warriors seek their fourth title since 2015 while the Celtics can break their tie with the Lakers for a record-setting 18th championship.

Boston Celtics vs. Golden State Warriors

Thursday, June 02, 2022 – 09:00 PM EDT at Chase Center

The Warriors (50-44-4 ATS) are a 3.5-point home favorite over the Celtics (55-42-3 ATS) at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks.

Since 2005, the home team is 16-1 SU in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, and all 16 home wins were by at least eight points.

Can the Celtics become the first team since the 2013 Spurs to pull off a Game 1 upset on the road?

How Did These Teams Get Here?

This is not a surprising matchup for the NBA Finals if you have followed this season. The Warriors were the talk of the league with their dominant 18-2 start.

The Warriors did not allow their first 29 opponents to score 115 points, a streak that Boston would later match this season, and they are the only two teams in the last four seasons to have a streak that long.

But Boston was looking like an afterthought in rookie head coach Ime Udoka’s debut season.

Celtics vs. Warriors Regular Season Recap

The Celtics were just 23-24 in late January before a remarkable turnaround that saw the team finish 28-7 in the regular season.

Including the playoffs, the Celtics are 21-5 in their last 26 road games as no team finished the regular season with a higher Net Rating (plus-7.7) in road games.

While Boston was surging, the Warriors were fading away after Steph Curry was injured in a March 16th meeting between these teams.

Stephen Curry Regular Season Recap

Golden State was 1-7 immediately following the Curry injury, but it did rebound to win five straight to end the regular season.

Curry returned for the playoffs, and the Warriors were able to beat the Nuggets, Grizzlies, and Mavericks despite finishing 1-3 against each of them in the regular season.

Curry is now the favorite to win his first Finals MVP award, but do not count out Jayson Tatum and these hungry Celtics, who are eager to win their first ring after playing several seasons together and finally getting over the hump in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Boston won three games in Miami, including their second Game 7 win this postseason.

Who Has the Matchup Advantage?

In the regular season, Boston (ranked ninth) actually finished with a higher Offensive Rating than the Warriors (ranked 16th).

However, a lot of that had to do with the injuries for the Warriors. Klay Thompson did not return until January after missing the last two seasons, and once he came back, Draymond Green went down.

By the time they were reunited, Curry had his injury to end the regular season. When this core trio is together for head coach Steve Kerr, the Warriors have been nearly impossible to beat in the playoffs.

Celtics vs. Warriors Postseason Performance

In the postseason, the Warriors have been hot offensively and have the highest Offensive Rating while the Celtics are only ranked eighth among the playoff field.

Boston has a talented roster, but the Warriors still have the better shooting talent with Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole adding to that core trio.

Celtics vs. Warriors Defensive Rating Analysis

The Celtics better bring a sharp offense to this series as the Warriors are 12-1 this postseason when allowing fewer than 119 points.

  • Boston (plus-6.7) does edge out Golden State (plus-5.1) for the highest Net Rating this postseason as the team has been in some real blowouts against the Bucks and Heat in the last two rounds.
  • But both teams can play defense as the Celtics (106.2) and Warriors (106.6) finished as the top two teams in Defensive Rating in the regular season.

Three Boston players received a vote for Defensive Player of the Year with guard Marcus Smart winning the award. Smart has been banged up during this playoff run but should be good to go for Game 1.

These teams split their two regular-season meetings, but neither game was a good litmus test for where the teams are now.

Celtics vs. Warriors One-man or Two-man Matchups

In December, the Warriors won 111-107 in Boston after Curry scored 30 points and Wiggins had 27 points.

But there was no Thompson or Poole, and Al Horford was out for the Celtics, who were a month away from playing at a high level.

When the team's last played in March, Curry was injured after 13 minutes of action where he only scored three points.

The Celtics got at least 20 points from each of their big three of Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Smart. It was an easy 110-88 win in Golden State, but do not expect any game in this series to look like that one.

Both teams this postseason have benefitted from playing rosters that were largely one-man or two-man shows.

Teams Benefitted from Opponent Injuries

Think Luka Doncic (Mavericks), Nikola Jokic (Nuggets), Jimmy Butler (Heat), or the duo of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving that Boston swept.

Both benefitted from major opponent injuries in the second round (Ja Morant and Khris Middleton).

Both teams are going to face their biggest test this postseason in this series with these defenses and supporting casts.

Predictions

This series definitely has the potential to go six or seven games as Boston’s commitment to defense and ability to play well on the road should serve the Celtics well in this matchup.

Boston is also a league-best 12-6 ATS this postseason, a league-best 17-9-2 ATS as an underdog, and a league-best 33-16-1 ATS as a road team this season.

But Game 1 has historically been so tough on the road team in the NBA Finals. Not only is the record 16-1 for the home team since 2005, but all time the Game 1 record is 58-17 (.773).

For your NBA picks, let’s go with the experienced, more rested Warriors at home to take Game 1 with this small spread and consider Boston a great pick to bounce back for Game 2 on Sunday night.

Score Prediction: Warriors 108, Celtics 102

NBA Pick: Warriors -3.5 (-115) with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Warriors -3.5 (-115)
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