All-Star guard Stephen Curry will lead the Golden State Warriors into the NBA Finals for the sixth time in eight years over the next three weeks. Photo by John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE
June 1 (UPI) -- The Golden State Warriors are favored over the Boston Celtics in the 2022 NBA Finals, but star guard Stephen Curry says his team will need everyone's best effort to overcome its "battle-tested" foes.
The Warriors will host the Celtics in Game 1 of the NBA Finals at 9 p.m. EDT Thursday at Chase Center in San Francisco. The best-of-seven-game series will air on ABC.
"They are obviously a great team," Curry told reporters Monday, when asked about the Celtics. "They have a group together that has gone through a lot in the last four or five years, had some success early and had to figure out how to sustain it.
"Now they are here on this stage. It will be an amazing test."
Curry cited momentum, balance, size, confidence and ability to overcome adversity as some of the Celtics' strengths.
The Celtics swept the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs. They then needed seven games to beat the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round. They also needed seven games to beat the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
"They have been battle-tested this playoff run," Curry said. "We like the matchup, as far as confidence going in and knowing we can win, but there is obvious respect in terms of what they present as a team."
The Celtics are one of the league's most-storied franchises. Their 17 titles are tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for the most in league history, but they have just one championship since 1986.
The Warriors are regarded by many as a modern dynasty, and will make their sixth NBA Finals appearance in the last eight years. They won titles in three of their previous five appearances.
"It's not easy -- clearly, this is my first time being in the championship," Celtics forward Jayson Tatum told reporters Sunday. "We know we have a tough task ahead.
"They've been here many a times. They've won many a times. I'm looking forward to it."
The Warriors did not play in a Game 7 this postseason. They beat the Denver Nuggets in five games in the first round. They slipped by the Memphis Grizzlies in six games. They needed five games to beat the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference finals.
The Celtics (51-31) and Warriors (53-29) had the NBA's best two defenses in the regular season, with defensive ratings of 106.2 and 106.6, respectively. They also tied the Heat for the lowest 3-point percentage allowed (33.9).
The Warriors are averaging a league-best 114.5 points per game this postseason. They also lead all postseason teams with 28.3 assists per game. The Celtics rank fifth in assists and blocks per game so far this postseason.
Celtics forward Jayson Tatum enters the series with the most points per game among active players, with 27 per appearance. Celtics guard Jaylen Brown averaged 22.9 points in 18 games. The Celtics also will lean on NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, who enters the series averaging 15.5 points per game.
Curry averaged 25.9 points per game over his last 16 playoff appearances. Warriors guards Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole are averaging 19.8 and 18.4 points per game, respectively, this postseason.
"Boston is a hell of a team, the best defensive team in the league this year," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "They've been through a lot to get here, not just this year.
"They've been building for this. I really admire the job they done as far as building the roster and going through the gambit over the last few years."
The Warriors are 9-0 this postseason at Chase Center, but 1-1 against the Celtics in the regular season. The Warriors also have home court advantage throughout the series, with a potential Game 7 scheduled June 19 in San Francisco.
NBA Finals (all times EDT)
Game 1: Celtics at Warriors at 9 p.m. on ABC
Game 2: Celtics at Warriors at 8 p.m. on ABC
Game 3: Warriors at Celtics at 9 p.m. on ABC
Game 4: Warriors at Celtics at 9 p.m. on ABC
Game 5 (if necessary): Celtics at Warriors at 9 p.m. on ABC
Game 6 (if necessary): Warriors at Celtics at 9 p.m. on ABC
Game 7 (if necessary): Celtics at Warriors at 8 p.m. on ABC