The Warriors are in the enviable position of sitting back and resting while their eventual opponent is headed to a Game 7 in the rough-and-tumble Eastern Conference Finals.
Golden State will have been off for an entire week by the time the NBA Finals begin Thursday night, and the Warriors will enjoy home court advantage whether the Heat or the Celtics come out of the East. The time off is already proving beneficial, as Gary Payton II is expected to return for the championship series, possibly in time for Game 1.
In contrast, the Celtics have been playing virtually every other day since the start of their second-round series with the Bucks, which also lasted seven games. Marcus Smart is dealing with a sprained right ankle and Robert Williams has a sore left knee, both of which have caused them to sit out games. They’re listed as questionable for Sunday night, just as they were for Games 5 and 6.
Miami’s injury situation is just as serious, with Kyle Lowry, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent playing through hamstring problems. They’re all listed as questionable for Game 7, along with P.J. Tucker, who has irritation in his left knee. Also questionable is Tyler Herro, who has missed the past three games with a strained groin. Jimmy Butler has inflammation in his right knee and twisted his ankle late in Game 6, but he doesn’t appear on the injury report.
Boston and Miami are both known for their aggressive defense and overall tough-mindedness, and either team would try to make the Finals as physical as possible. The Celtics can test Golden State’s defense with two dangerous scorers in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but Butler provided a reminder Friday night that he can take over a game as well.
We want your opinion on which team will provide a better matchup. Do the Heat or the Celtics have a better chance of keeping Golden State from collecting another ring? Please leave your responses in the comments section.