NBA Finals 2022: Early Storylines to Track for Remainder of Celtics vs. Warriors

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIJune 3, 2022

NBA Finals 2022: Early Storylines to Track for Remainder of Celtics vs. Warriors

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Well, there's never been a fourth quarter quite like that one in NBA Finals history.

    On Thursday night, the Boston Celtics turned a 12-point deficit after three quarters into a 12-point win, as they stormed back to beat the Golden State Warriors 120-108 and take a 1-0 lead in the series. As Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press noted, it was the most lopsided fourth quarter to take place in an NBA Finals game, with Boston outscoring Golden State 40-16 in the period.

    It didn't seem likely to happen, either. The Warriors are the more experienced team, and they hadn't lost on their home court this postseason. Yet the Celtics turned the tide and sent the fans at Chase Center home stunned.

    Now, it will be interesting to see where the NBA Finals go from here. Game 2 is set for Sunday night, and Golden State will look to even the series before it moves to Boston for Games 3 and 4. If the Celtics have a 2-0 lead heading home, that could be difficult for even the Warriors to overcome.

    Here's a look at several storylines to track heading into the rest of this series.

Can the Celtics Continue to Win the 3-Point Battle?

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in their backcourt, the Warriors are supposed to be the better of the two teams from three-point range. They weren't bad from long range in Game 1, either, going 19-for-45 (42.2 percent), with Curry shooting 7-for-14 from beyond the arc.

    The Celtics were just better. They went 21-for-41 (51.2 percent) on three-pointers, beating the Warriors at their own game. Among the top long-range shooters for Boston were center Al Horford (6-for-8), guard Derrick White (5-for-8) and guard Marcus Smart (4-for-7).

    "They have guys that put pressure on the rim, so you're going to have to rotate," Golden State forward Draymond Green said after the game. "We'll have to figure out where our next rotation is coming from and do it."

    If the Warriors don't do a better job in that aspect, the Celtics could continue to capitalize on open looks from beyond the arc. And even Golden State may not be able to keep up if Boston continues to be this efficient on its three-pointers.

What Will Happen Once Tatum Gets Going in Series?

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    One of the main reasons the Celtics are in the NBA Finals is the postseason play of Jayson Tatum, who is averaging a team-high 26.2 points per game in the playoffs. He's had some big scoring outputs, putting up 30 or more points seven times over the first three rounds.

    However, Tatum was not at his best in Game 1 of the Finals. He shot 3-for-17 from the field, including 1-for-5 from three-point range, and finished with 12 points. The 24-year-old forward still dished out 13 assists, but it's rare for Boston to win when he's shooting like that.

    So if the Celtics can pull out victories when Tatum is inefficient, they could be in great shape when he inevitably gets going. He had a few other tough shooting nights earlier this postseason, and he bounced back from those. He'll likely do the same moving forward in this series.

    If Tatum heats up and the rest of Boston's core plays as well as it did in Game 1, then it could potentially take control of this series. Golden State will likely need to continue to limit Tatum's production, though, while correcting other mistakes if it hopes to have a better end result than it had in the series opener.

Warriors Will Lean on Experience to Try to Bounce Back

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    There are still some players on the Warriors' roster who played in the NBA Finals for the team every year from 2015-19, most notably Curry, Thompson and Green. This is a group that knows what it takes to win on the biggest stage in the most important matchups of a long season.

    However, one thing that Golden State never did during that stretch was lose Game 1 of the Finals and still win the title. It took a 1-0 lead in 2015, 2017 and 2018, the three years it captured championships during that stretch. Still, there's plenty of experience to draw on as the Warriors look to overcome an 0-1 deficit this year.

    Perhaps that's why Golden State's players didn't seem worried, even after that late Game 1 collapse.

    "We're not going to splinter because we didn't play like we wanted to," Thompson told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami. "We're just going to continue to play as hard as we can. And I just know, if we do that, we'll be better."

    The Warriors are fine for now. But if they lose again in Game 2 at home, they could be in some big trouble.

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