The Splash Brothers will make a triumphant return to the NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors won the Western Conference championship and secured a berth to the 2022 NBA Finals after knocking out the Mavs with a 120-110 victory in Game 5 of the conference finals.
The Warriors are -140 odds to win the 2022 NBA Championship. They await the winner of the Eastern Conference finals, where the #2 Boston Celtics hold a 3-2 series edge over the #1 Miami Heat, with Game 6 scheduled tonight in Boston. The Celtics are +120 odds to win the title while the Heat are long shots at +2500.
With the Warriors returning to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2019 – and the sixth time in eight seasons – they also saw an uptick in their 2023 championship futures. The Warriors are the consensus favorite on DraftKings’ NBA futures board to win the title in 2023 at +400 odds, moving ahead of the Brooklyn Nets at +500 odds.
Golden path to the NBA Finals
At the start of the 2021-22 season, the Brooklyn Nets (+200), LA Lakers (+400), and Milwaukee Bucks (+900) were all ahead of the Warriors (+1100), according to DraftKings’ preseason odds. In case you were wondering, the Celtics were +4000 odds at that launching point.
The Warriors had an awesome 8-1 start and their odds jumped to +800. By Thanksgiving, the Warriors and Lakers were both +700 odds, yet still trailing the Nets (+240). By Christmas, the Warriors (+550) inched closer to the Nets (+245). By the All-Star Break, the red-hot Phoenix Suns were the new betting favorite at +400, while the Nets (+425) and Warriors (+450) hit bumpy waters.
After Steph Curry suffered a foot injury and got shut down for several weeks, the Warriors saw their odds bottom out at +850 in early April before bouncing back. At the start of the playoffs, the Warriors were +650 odds to win the title as the third-highest favorite at DraftKings, trailing the Suns (+200) and Milwaukee Bucks (+475).
With the #3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, the Warriors needed five games to knock out the #6 Denver Nuggets in the first round. In the conference semifinals, the Warriors eliminated the #2 Memphis Grizzlies in six games after Ja Morant went down with a knee injury in Game 3.
The Warriors jumped out to a 3-0 series lead against the #4 Mavs in the Western Conference finals, but failed to deliver a coup de grace in Game 4 to complete a sweep. The Mavs earned a victory in Game 4, but not even Scott “The Extender” Foster officiating Game 5 could help the Mavs avoid the inevitable knockout. The Warriors won the Western Conference and returned to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2019,
Warriors: Klay shines in Game 5 KO
Klay Thompson led all scorers with 32 points on 8-for-16 from 3-point land. When Curry and Andrew Wiggins struggled from downtown, combining for 2-for-14, Thompson picked up the slack.
All five starters scored double digits, including 17 points, nine assists, and six rebounds from Draymond Green. Jordan Poole scored 16 points in 28 minutes off the bench, while Wiggins scored 16 points and Curry added 15.
Thompson missed nearly 2.5 seasons while recovering from ACL and Achilles injuries. Everyone in the Bay Area was thrilled to see old Klay light up the Mavs in a series-clincher.
“It’s hard to put into words really,” said Thompson. “This time last year, I was just starting to jog again and get up and down the court. Now to be feeling like myself, feeling explosive, feeling sure in my movements, I’m just grateful.”
Without Thompson, the Splash Brothers were down a brother and the Warriors failed to qualify for the postseason in 2020 and 2021.
“You could see how much was missing the last couple of years,” said Draymond Green. “We’re lucky to have the Klay Thompson we know back because we know how good he is.”
The Warriors punched their ticket to the NBA Finals for the sixth time since 2015. They won three championships and were the runner-up twice.
“For our team, our guys, especially the core group, to be part of that six times in eight years, I don’t even know what to say,” said head coach Steve Kerr. “It just takes an enormous amount of skill and determination and work.”
Mavs: gassed, but see ya next year
Luka Doncic scored a team-high 28 points in the loss, but struggled from the outset, missing eight out of his first 10 shots. He finished the rough night shooting 3-for-13 from 3-point land. The rest of the starters combined for 3-for-10 from beyond the arc.
“I don’t like losing, especially not like this,” said Doncic. “I played terrible. But if we’re talking about our season, I’m really proud of this team. Nobody had us here. But I promise we fought until the end.”
Very few people expected the Mavs would reach the Western Conference finals, especially under new head coach Jason Kidd and with their current lineup. They made a huge trade prior to the deadline when they shipped Kristaps “The Unicorn” Porzingis to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans.
Doncic injured his calf in the final game of the regular season and he missed the first two games of the opening round against the Utah Jazz. But the Mavs still prevailed, knocking out the Jazz. In the second round, the Mavs stunned the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in a brutal seven-game series. The Mavs were down 0-2 and stormed back to win four times in the last five games.
The Mavs looked overmatched in the Western Conference finals against the Warriors. But they looked at their journey as an educational experience. They now know what it takes to win the conference title and hope they learned the necessary lessons to design a blueprint for an inevitable championship.
Check out our coverage of the 2022 NBA playoffs.