The 2022 NBA Finals feature two teams with vastly different experience. The Golden State Warriors took home the Larry O’Brien Trophy three times in the past seven years, adding two more finals appearances in that span. The Boston Celtics appeared in four of the last six Eastern Conference Finals, but this is their first finals appearance since 2010 and first with the current core.
Golden State’s players have a combined 123 games of NBA Finals experience. The Boston Celtics have zero.
Brad Stevens coached the Celtics from 2013-2021, and now serves as the President of Basketball Operations for Boston. He was on Toucher & Rich Wednesday morning to talk about his team’s first experience in the NBA Finals. Even with the disparity in experience, Stevens is confident in his team’s ability to go toe-to-toe with the Warriors on the biggest stage.
“I don’t think you should discount our guys’ playoff experience together,” Stevens said. “Though we don’t have experience playing in the finals, we have a ton of experience playing together and have been through a lot as a group for a long time. And even though this group is much different than a couple of our other runs as a collective, there is a core that has experienced quite a bit.”
To Stevens’ point, the nine Boston players who average over 10 minutes played per game this postseason combine for 440 playoff games on the Celtics, Al Horford even adds an additional 78 games of postseason experience during his career.
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green appeared in their first NBA Finals in the 2014-2015 season. Those three went up against the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers, James had 23 finals games under his belt and was at the peak of his powers during that time. The comparison of the 2022 Boston Celtics and 2015 Golden State Warriors isn’t spot on, but if this says anything, it’s that finals experience is not the end all be all.
Not to mention, the Celtics are 9-7 against the Warriors since Steve Kerr took over as head coach in 2014. While that doesn’t look like a great number, Boston is the only team in the league with a winning record against Golden State since Kerr was hired. The two teams faced each other twice this season, with both teams winning on the road.