Game 6 of the NBA Finals revealed the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors for who they really are. The Celtics showed they were a great team that just wasn’t ready to take on the juggernauts of the NBA on the biggest stage for a seven-game series. Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors have been here before, they merely needed to re-establish their dominance, to prove their abilities haven’t diminished.
Still, there was a feeling that the series could still have gone either way, with the Celtics playing on their home floor at TD Garden pushing to stay alive for a Game 7 back in the Bay Area. But that’s not what millions of basketball fans witnessed during Game 6 on Thursday night. Instead, it was the Warriors who wanted to show the Boston crowd they weren’t intimidated by their chants and boos.
Aside from the Warriors being the obvious winners from the night, here are four additional takeaways from Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
Jayson Tatum isn’t quite on Giannis’ or Kawhi’s level
To some, the fact that Jayson Tatum largely led his Boston Celtics unit to the NBA Finals meant he deserved to be mentioned with the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, or Kawhi Leonard, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Tatum got here along with some help from Jaylen Brown, Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart and new coach Ime Udoka, who had an excellent defensive scheme.
Tatum, while a great player, isn’t quite on the same level as the Greek Freak or The Klaw just let. Perhaps if he had a more consistent performance, where he didn’t shoot just 36.6% from the floor, things could be different. As it stands, Tatum will have to sit and stew with that bitter taste of defeat for another offseason as he trains to get back to this same stage next season, but it won’t be easy.
While spectacular, Ime Udoka’s Celtics weren’t ready
There’s no one questioning Ime Udoka’s coaching ability after the Celtics’ NBA Finals loss. He led the Celtics back to the brink of an NBA Championship in his first season as a head coach, that’s an incredible feat.
Finishing the regular season with the No. 1 ranked scoring defense is nothing to scoff at, if Udoka can somehow build and learn from whatever mistakes he’s made during the season and throughout the playoffs, the Celtics could have a scary good coach on their hands. And being that Udoka is just 44 years old, it could be a long, successful run for the Nigerian-American.
It’s not Udoka’s fault that his team hadn’t yet had any Finals experience, but now they do. With the same core of Tatum, Brown, Smart, and Robert Willams all expected to return next season, there’s no reason why they can’t find another gear with another year of chemistry. But it’s a long road back.
Andrew Wiggins showed he’s far from a loser
While it’s possible the Warriors will turn around and trade Andrew Wiggins, capitalizing on his trade value being at its peak, he’s proven to be one of the better two-way players in basketball. Dare I even say, we have yet to see the very best version of Wiggins. Is there yet another level of game that can be unlocked if given a bigger role again, now that he’s built up his confidence?
Tough to say, but no one can sit back and say Wiggins is a loser, or anything close. He just played an integral role in the Warriors winning an NBA Championship and there were several times when he was the best player on the floor.
Not bad, definitely a leap from his days with the Timberwolves, where he’d flash his talent and then disappear the next game. It’s hard not to root for a positive player like Wiggins, even his former teammates are thrilled to see Maple Jordan thrive. Good for him, but now the Warriors will have a tough decision to make this offseason.
Stephen Curry is a basketball God
For all those who have witnessed Steph Curry at any point of his basketball career, consider yourself lucky. As the best scorer of all time, and one of the best players in NBA history, Curry has to be included in anyone’s top-five list of best players of all time. And now he’s finally added Finals MVP on top of already having two NBA MVPs. But year, four rings, this guy’s a basketball God.
Can Curry and the Warriors repeat for the second time during their dynasty? As crazy as it sounds, the work will begin soon enough. The 2022 preseason brings the Warriors to Japan to play two games overseas, starting in September. But first, the offseason could bring some additional change to the roster as the team navigates an expensive luxury tax.