On Thursday night, the 2021-22 NBA season concluded with the Golden State Warriors capturing their fourth championship across the last eight seasons. Through a contested six-game battle against the Boston Celtics, each side saw their fair share of promise.
Here, we take a look at each team’s starting lineup and how they performed during the NBA Finals across the last two weeks:
Marcus Smart (15.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists)
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year continued to play at a high level during this series, recording a steal in four of six contests. Smart quickly became the solidified third scoring option for the Boston Celtics as well, scoring 18+ points in four of six games, including a series-high 24 points during Game 3. Despite finding offensive success early in the series, however, Smart regressed in his attempts from both the field and from three-point range as the series continued. Smart was an all-around asset for Boston, but wasn’t perfect by any means.
Jaylen Brown (23.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists)
After being thrown into trade rumors in February, Jaylen Brown emerged as the best player for the Boston Celtics during the NBA Finals. He led the team in most offensive categories, shooting 43% or higher from the field in four of six games. Bleak performances from Brown during both Game 2 and Game 5 put Boston at a disadvantage, but perhaps a lack of NBA Finals experience played a role in that as well. Brown remains under contract with the team across the next two seasons and should have the roster built around himself and Tatum.
Jayson Tatum (21.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 7.0 assists)
This was a disheartening NBA Finals performance for Tatum, who became the first player in NBA history to surrender 100 total turnovers in the playoffs. In this series specifically, Tatum was responsible for 23 turnovers. Even during Tatum’s strongest performances during Game 2 and Game 5, it still wasn’t enough for Boston to win on either occasion. The lack of output was a direct result of the Warriors defense, specifically from Andrew Wiggins.
Al Horford (12.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists)
Al Horford played well during both Game 1 and Game 6, but was merely a role player in every other contest. The veteran shot 62.5% from three-point range, yet only attempted four or more shots from beyond the arc in three games. He finished as the team’s leading rebounder and his numbers did improve in comparison to the regular season. Still, his presence was sorely missed throughout the series.
Robert Williams (7.5 points, 7.5 points, 1.5 assists)
It’s difficult to evaluate the performance of Robert Williams, who played unrestricted minutes during the NBA Finals with an injured knee. His presence in the paint was felt on both ends of the floor, as Williams recorded 17 blocks during the series. The center only averaged 4.3 field goal attempts per game, which begs the question on the impact Williams could have made at full health for the Celtics. Still, being able to make an impact as a two-way threat while injured has to speak volumes.
Golden State Warriors
Steph Curry (31.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists)
Steph Curry secured his first NBA Finals MVP after totaling 34 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists in Game 6. That being said, the two-time leading scorer finished 2-of-10 from three-point range during the fourth quarter against the Celtics defense this series. A forgettable Game 5 in which Curry finished 0-for-9 from deep will be overshadowed with the fact that Golden State still managed to win the game. He was rightfully named the Finals MVP based on overall production, but it didn’t come without its rough patches.
Klay Thompson (17.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists)
In his first season back since tearing his ACL in June of 2019, Thompson found moments to be productive on both ends for Golden State. While he only scored 20+ points on two occasions, Thompson did record a steal in every game with the exception of Game 1. He remained perfect from the free throw line (12-of-12), but struggled in Game 2 and Game 6 from three-point territory. With a full offseason to recover, the expectations will be higher for Thompson moving forward.
Andrew Wiggins (18.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists)
For the Golden State Warriors, you simply couldn’t ask Andrew Wiggins to perform at a higher level. His elite defense prevented the likes of Jayson Tatum for a vast majority of the season, while his confidence on the offensive end resulted in two double-double performances. Wiggins didn’t manage to find success from three-point range, but it wouldn’t be an outlandish take to claim that his production was the difference-maker in this NBA Finals.
Otto Porter Jr. (5.2 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists)
The Golden State Warriors used a number of players to fill out their rotation, with Otto Porter Jr. getting the start in Game 6. His role remained limited, despite shooting 58% from the field in the series. He was dealing with a foot injury during the playoffs, but Porter still provided valuable moments for Golden State.
Draymond Green (6.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, 6.2 assists)
It was a series one would expect from Draymond Green, who finished with 25 personal fouls during the NBA Finals. While on the court, however, Green played a major role in closing the series in Game 6 with a series-high 12 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists. He forced 14 turnovers on the defensive end against Boston, but the combination of foul trouble and lack of offensive efficiency makes this a difficult evaluation.