Warriors vs. Celtics picks, predictions, schedule for Game 6 of 2022 NBA Finals

The Warriors will have a chance to close out the 2022 NBA Finals in Boston on Thursday after taking a 3-2 lead with a Game 5 win. It’s been a topsy-turvy series, separated by only 11 points through five games.

Will the Warriors raise the Larry O’Brien Trophy? Or will the Celtics send the series back to San Francisco?

Here’s everything you need to know going into the pivotal Game 6.

MORE: Tommy Heinsohn’s legacy lives on as Celtics pursue NBA championship

The key matchup

Jayson Tatum vs. Andrew Wiggins

Tatum has had an OK Finals run so far. He’s averaging 23.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.0 assists in 40.8 minutes per game. But his shots have been extremely tough, particularly inside the arc, where he’s hitting only 30.6 percent of his attempts.

Wiggins has done a terrific job on Tatum. He doesn’t deserve all of the credit, though, as the Warriors have switched a lot defensively and also put Gary Payton II on Tatum for stretches. They’ve also brought help from all over the floor to crowd Tatum’s drives, which has led to his 18 turnovers in the series.

If the Celtics are going to extend the series, then Tatum has to get more switches onto weaker defenders and attack quickly. He must penetrate before the Warriors have an opportunity to load up in the paint.

The Celtics had great success in the middle of Game 5 by following that plan. They brought Stephen Curry into screening actions and forced him to switch onto Tatum multiple times, jump-starting their offense. They need to continue to put pressure on Curry and Jordan Poole rather than hoping Tatum can get by Wiggins and score over the help defenders.

The key stat

Celtics turnovers

For all of the attention that the Warriors’ offense has gotten, they’ve been held to the same average-ish level of production in every game this series. The Celtics’ defense has been consistent.

What has determined the winner in each game is the Celtics’ offense — or lack thereof.

Much of that offense is predicated on taking care of the ball. In each of their two wins, the Celtics limited themselves to 12 turnovers. In their three losses, they’ve turned it over 18, 15 and 18 times.

The X-factor

Warriors: Klay Thompson

He’s had games in which he’s looked like the old Klay, such as his 21-point performance in Game 5 and 25-point showing in Game 3. He’s also had some stinkers, shooting 30.3 percent in the first two games.

Which Thompson will the Warriors get? When he’s reined in his shot selection, he has been a huge boon for the team. When he’s forced up tough midrangers or tried to bully defenders in the post, it’s generally ended badly.

The Warriors don’t need Thompson to try and take over. They do need him to get up open 3-pointers and keep playing solid defense.

Celtics: Robert Williams

He hasn’t been able to play a ton of minutes because of that wonky knee, averaging just 25.2 minutes in the series. When Williams has been on the floor, he’s been invaluable. The Celtics are plus-31 when he’s on the court in this series.

Williams’ 2.4 blocks per game don’t tell nearly the whole story of how impactful he is on defense. He has prevented the Warriors from even attempting layups when he’s been lurking around the basket. The distance that he has covered on some of his blocks has been astounding.

If Williams’ knee is feeling good and he can play over 30 minutes, then the Celtics will be tough to beat.

Warriors vs. Celtics Game 6 start time, series schedule

  • Date: Thursday, June 16
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET | 6 p.m. PT

Game 6 of the NBA Finals will tip off around 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 16. The game will be played at the TD Garden in Boston.

Date Game Time (ET) / Results
June 2 Game 1 Celtics 120, Warriors 108
June 5 Game 2 Warriors 107, Celtics 88
June 8 Game 3 Celtics 116, Warriors 100
June 10 Game 4 Warriors 107, Celtics 97
June 13 Game 5 Warriors 104, Celtics 94
June 16 Game 6 9 p.m.
June 19 Game 7* 8 p.m.

*If necessary

Warriors vs. Celtics picks, predictions

I originally picked the Celtics to win in seven games. I’m not feeling nearly as confident in that prediction, but I do think that this series still goes seven.

The Celtics have benefited from a great home crowd. They won Game 3 in Boston, then let Game 4 slip through their fingers in the last six minutes of the fourth quarter.

These Celtics have truly been a Jekyll-and-Hyde team. At their best, they have made the Warriors look totally overmatched. They’re the more athletic team and have better depth.

But far too often, the Celtics have shot themselves in the foot. They’ve been sloppy with the ball, forced shots up late in the clock, driven into a sea of help defenders or chucked up bad midrange attempts. (I’m looking at you, Tatum.)

Those mistakes haven’t been quite as common at home. The Warriors have been consistent, honed by years of Finals experience. On the other hand, you never know which version of the Celtics you’re going to get.

I’m reluctantly picking the Celtics in Game 6.

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