The NBA Finals returns to Boston tonight for Game 6 with the Warriors on the brink of closing out the series. The Crossover staff weighs in on where Golden State would rank among NBA dynasties, Steph Curry’s place among the greatest players of all time, and who will win Game 6.
If the Warriors win the title, where would you rank them among NBA dynasties?
Chris Herring: Probably second still, after the Jordan-era Bulls. But getting back to the winner’s circle three years later, without Kevin Durant and after Klay Thompson’s catastrophic injuries, would be enormously impressive in its own right, and validate Curry in a new, unimpeachable sort of way for those who’ve made light of his lack of Finals MVPs before.
Robin Lundberg: There are legendary dynasties of the past like the Boston Celtics, but the Warriors would be right there when it comes to my era with another title. What Shaq and Kobe did was special as was the run the Spurs had. But to me it comes down to three: the Bulls, the Warriors and LeBron James, who was in nine out of 10 NBA Finals with three different teams, which is bananas. But when it comes to a squad, it’s Chicago and Golden State. What makes this Warriors run stand out is that it is a new chapter after their original title and the KD superteam (best ever assembled imo). I would put them second to the Jordan Bulls in rankings since that featured two separate three-peats.
Chris Mannix: Four titles in eight years, with a couple of other Finals appearances that were derailed for non-basketball (Draymond’s suspension, Kevin Durant’s injury) reasons? The Warriors would rank right up there. The ‘50s and ‘60s Celtics are the gold standard of NBA dynasties, but I would put Golden State on the same level as the ‘70s and ‘80s Celtics and Lakers, the ‘90s Bulls, and the Spurs of the early aughts. And given the Warriors’ roster construction, they may have a few more runs left in them.
Michael Pina: Four titles in eight years—with two Finals losses packed into that span—is a wild accomplishment that only Russell’s Celtics, Magic’s Lakers, Jordan’s Bulls and Duncan’s Spurs can look down at. To win that consistently in the era they did, where rosters constantly turn over, might make the Warriors’ run as impressive as any one of those aforementioned dynasties, depending on who you ask.
If the Warriors win the title, where would you rank Steph Curry among the greatest players of all time?
Herring: Probably at the very back end of the 10 or so best to have ever laced them up. Despite his frame, there are aspects of Steph that are Shaq-like, as he’s fundamentally changed the sport because you can’t guard him with merely one player in a league that sets as many screens as this one does. And because of that, he creates 4-on-3 mismatches everywhere, making the game easier for all his teammates in a way we haven’t seen much throughout basketball history.
Lundberg: The Warriors don’t need to win for Steph Curry to be on the very shortest list of greatest players ever. He is already one of the five best players I’ve ever watched, the best point guard ever in my opinion (though sticking with Magic is more than reasonable) and on my personal NBA Mount Rushmore. The way he changed the game combined with consistent winning and achievements has solidified his spot.
Mannix: I struggle with placement but there’s no question that a championship and a Finals MVP will elevate Curry. And when you stack up his résumé, individual and team, you will have a hard time finding 10 guys that are better than Curry.
Pina: He’s already one of the four or five best players I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes, but factoring in everyone who’s ever picked up a ball, it’d be hard to think of 12 names before his came up. Curry’s career totals aren’t as impressive as other Mount Rushmore candidates, but his impact on the sport—where adjectives like “transcendent” and “revolutionary” apply without (that much) hyperbole—coupled with all that postseason success really places him in rarified air. And, at 34 years old, Curry clearly has more left in the tank.
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What will it take for the Celtics to extend the series?
Herring: Continuing to move the ball while turning it over far, far less—look at the Warriors’ points off turnovers in this series if you haven’t already—and limiting Golden State’s breakout performances to Curry and virtually no one else. That formula’s worked for Boston.
Lundberg: The Celtics need to stop with the self inflicted errors. Turnovers have allowed the Warriors to get out into transition and get clean looks for shooters. If Boston can limit those and Jayson Tatum can step up, they’ll be in good shape. But those mishaps are the reason they trail in the series.
Mannix: Stop. Turning. The. Ball. Over. The Celtics are the better team. If they commit less than 12 turnovers on Thursday, they will win. If they commit 16 or more, they will lose. Simple as that.
Pina: They need to take care of the ball and read Golden State’s defense with more clarity than they did in Games 4 and 5, hope Curry doesn’t have another out of body experience, hit open threes and free throws, clamp down on all the Warriors’ off-ball action in the half-court, finish better in the paint and hope Rob Williams III looks like he did in Game 3.
Who will win Game 6?
Herring: I think the Celtics, back on their home floor, find a way to respond and at least force a Game 7. Beating them twice in a row was enough of a feat, but doing so three consecutive times—Boston hasn’t lost three straight since late December—would be incredible in a series this competitive.
Lundberg: I’ll go with the Celtics, reluctantly. This has been a great NBA Finals after a fairly underwhelming playoffs. I think this series and fans deserve a Game 7.
Mannix: Boston. I still think the Celtics will win this series. This team bizarrely seems to respond best to real adversity. They looked like the Washington Generals for the first two months of the season, and the best team in the NBA for the last four. They went down 3-2 to the Bucks and won. They drop-kicked a chance to take out Miami in six, and then went down to South Beach and beat the Heat. They just find a way. I’ve got Boston to win Game 6. And Boston to win Game 7.
Pina: The Celtics.
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