After six weeks of heart-stopping play-off action the 2022 National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals are finally upon us.
A constellation of superstars are set to clash as the Golden State Warriors take on the Boston Celtics in best-of-seven series slated to begin 2 June in the Chase Center, California.
For the Celtics, this year's finals is a chance to bank championship win number 18, a record that would break their current tie with the Los Angeles Lakers for most NBA championships won be any single franchise.
For the Warriors, it would be an eighth championship that would see them break away from a tie they hold with the Chicago Bulls.
It will be the second time in history that Golden State meet Boston in an NBA finals after the two sides met back in 1964 with the Celtics taking the championship in five.
But who will do take the title this time?
The road to the NBA Finals
Golden State Warriors
For the sixth time in eight seasons the Golden State Warriors will feature in an NBA Finals after emerging victorious against the Dallas Mavericks 4-1 in the Western Conference finals.
They arrive at the best-of-seven finals series with the best marks of the post-season having beaten the Denver Nuggets - home of the regular consecutive regular season MVP Nikola Jokic – 4-1, before topping the Memphis Grizzlies 4-2 in the semi-finals.
If the Warriors strolled to the Finals then the Celtics surely limped there, battered and bruised.
The Massachusetts-based franchise punched their ticket to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010 after coming out on top of a down-to-the-wire series over the top-seeded Miami Heat 4-3.
It was a second seven-games series victory for the Celtics who ousted 2021 champions, the Milwaukee Bucks, 4-3 to set up a conference finals meeting with the Heat.
2022 NBA Finals: Stars to watch
Undeniably the player from the Warriors to watch leading into the Finals is Steph Curry.
The unanimous winner of the inaugural Magic Johnson Western Conference MVP, the 34-year-old as spearheaded their return to the finals after a two-year-long hiatus. He finished the series having averaged 23.8 points, 7.4 assists and 6.6 rebounds confirm his status as the engine of the Golden States’ offence.
Then there is the small matter that making the championship series is something personal for the point guard.
After the highs of making four consecutive finals from 2014-15 to 2018-2019, the Warriors were slapped with a two-year lull exacerbated by Curry’s own injury to his left hand, causing him to miss 60 games for his side.
Back at the top, and buoyed by the in-form Klay Thompson whose own past season injury woes has fuelled his own motivational fire, if the Celtic are to stem the favoured Warriors, then quietening Curry will be their top priority.
Recently crowned Larry Bird Eastern Conference finals' MVP Jayson Tatum will be the one hoping to deliver Boston to glory.
The 24-year-old, now in his fifth NBA season, has been a star on the rise ever since he matched up against his childhood idol LeBron James in the play-offs four years ago.
Since then, the Tokyo 2020 gold medallist has made the floor for 65 play-off games, a remarkable feat given his age, and it is consistency in the clutch moments that will pose problems for the hunting Warriors.
Tatum arrived for Game 7 against the Miami Heat averaging 24.8 points, 8 rebounds and 5.5 assists. On the night, when his team needed him most, the power forward racked up 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in 46 minutes, demonstrating his capacity to stand tall when needed most even when under the heat of the formidable Jimmy Butler.
The match-up: Boston Celtics vs Golden State Warriors
Just how these two NBA titans will match-up when the Finals get underway is the question on every NBA fans' mind, not least because the Warriors split their regular season meeting with Boston with each side winning on the others' home court.
Given that the Warriors' wrapped the Western Conference finals up in five games, rest will undoubtedly play its hand in how the finals series unfolds. The Celtics have now been on two runs of seven games meaning fatigue is a genuine threat to their campaign.
2022 NBA Finals Schedule
Given their superior regular season record the home-court advantage will belong to Golden State, who will host the first two games of the finals series.
Games three and four will then move to the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
Should a winner not determined in the first four games, the venue will then alternate between the Warriors and the Celtics with Golden State retaining the home advantage by hosting game five and seven if required.
NBA Finals Schedule in full:
- Game 1, Thursday 2 June at 21:00 (ET) - Chase Center, San Francisco
- Game 2, Sunday 5 June at 20:00 (ET) - Chase Center, San Francisco
- Game 3, Wednesday 8 June at 21:00 (ET) - TD Garden, Boston
- Game 4, Friday 10 June at 21:00 (ET) - TD Garden, Boston
- Game 5, Monday 13 June at 21:00 (ET) - Chase Center, San Francisco Game 6, Thursday 16 June at - 21:00 (ET) - TD Garden, ap Boston Game 7, Sunday 19 June at 20:00 (ET) - Chase, Center, San Francisco