2022 NBA Finals simulation predicts bold outcome for C's-Warriors

Jayson Tatum

Who has the edge in the 2022 NBA Finals? Depends on who you ask.

The Golden State Warriors are the current betting favorites and a popular pick among NBA experts. They have a combined 123 games of NBA Finals experience and a core that's won three championships together.

The Boston Celtics are the darlings of analytics models, however, with an 80 percent chance to win the series at FiveThirtyEight and an 86 percent chance to raise Banner 18 according to ESPN's BPI metric.

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So, how will this series play out? We asked our partners at Strat-O-Matic -- who forecasted Boston's second-half turnaround with impressive accuracy -- to simulate this year's NBA Finals.

The results are interesting, to say the least.

Game-by-game breakdown

Celtics-Warriors Simulation Station
NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Your eyes aren't deceiving you. Strat-O-Matic has the Celtics winning in five.

Boston makes a statement in Game 1, as Jayson Tatum (36 points) and Marcus Smart (13 assists) help power a 22-point road rout of Golden State. Unlike in previous series, the Celtics keep their foot on the gas in Game 2, overcoming a 34-point effort from Stephen Curry to earn a seven-point victory and take a 2-0 series lead back to Boston.


The Warriors grind out an 89-88 win in Game 3 at TD Garden behind Curry's 37 points, dropping the Celtics' postseason home record to 5-5. Tatum comes to the rescue in Game 4, however, racking up 39 points in a 15-point win that gives the C's a 3-1 series lead.

Golden State puts up a fight in Game 5, but the Jays prove too much to overcome: Jaylen Brown scores a game-high 31 points while Tatum adds 13 rebounds and seven assists in a four-point win that secures the Celtics' first NBA title since 2008.

The C's go a perfect 3-0 on the road in this simulation and win by an average of 12 points to steamroll the Western Conference champs.

Notable Celtics performances

Celtics NBA Finals stats
NBC Sports Boston Illustration

The Celtics are hard to beat when Tatum and Brown are both on their game, and that's exactly what happens in this simulation.

The Jays combine to score more than half of Boston's points in the series while both shooting over 45 percent and averaging a combined 8.8 assists per game. Smart does his part as a facilitator (7.8 assists per game) and more importantly knocks down his shots, shooting a respectable 44.6 percent in the Finals after shooting 39.5 percent in Boston's previous three series.

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Al Horford also delivers a solid 14 points and eight rebounds per game, while Derrick White continues his strong play with 10.2 points and 3.2 assists per game to swing the series in Boston's favor.

Notable Warriors performances

Warriors series stats
NBC Sports Boston Illustration

No team had a better 3-point defense than Boston this season, and that trend continued when it mattered most.

Curry racked up nearly 30 points per game but shot below his regular-season 3-point percentage of 38 percent. Klay Thompson went ice-cold from three at 20.5 percent for the series, while Jordan Poole mustered just 7.2 points per game on 24 percent shooting from distance.

Poole's lack of production is the biggest takeaway here. While Andrew Wiggins averaged 16.8 points in the series in this simulation, Poole is Golden State's best scorer outside of Curry and Thompson who enters the Finals putting up 18.4 points per game.

If the Celtics can prevent Poole from getting hot and defend the 3-point line with this level of success, there's a very good chance they'll raise Banner 18.