2021 NBA Playoffs Predictions
2021 NBA Playoffs Predictions
By: Wyatt Bose
Unfortunately, this year I am writing these predictions very late into the playoffs. To give a quick update as to where the playoffs are when I am writing these predictions in order to ensure that these predictions are valid, I have listed a quick summary below:
(Today’s Date: 6/13/21): So far in the Western Conference, in a jaw-dropping 1st round series, the defending 2020 NBA Champion (7) Los Angeles Lakers were sent home packing as Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and the (2) Phoenix Suns shocked the NBA world by upsetting LeBron James and the defending champs in just 6 games. Phoenix carried their momentum into the Denver series in which they swept MVP Nikola Jokic’s (6) Denver Nuggets with ease to punch their ticket to the Western Conference Finals. Moreover, as of now, the (4) Los Angeles Clippers are down 2-1 to the (1) Utah Jazz so there will be predictions for that series as well as the remainder of the playoffs later in the article.
Moving to the Eastern Conference, the juggernaut that is the Brooklyn Nets swept the defending Eastern Conference champs in the Miami Heat to face off against the Milwaukee Bucks in Round 2. As of tonight, Kyrie Irving exited Game 4 in Milwaukee with an apparent ankle injury and the Bucks evened the series up at 2-2, so without James Harden and Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant has his work cut out for him in terms of closing out this series. Moving on to the (1) Philadelphia 76ers, who cruised past Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal, and the (8) Washington Wizards in the first round, Philly is up 2-1 on the (5) Atlanta Hawks who knocked off the (4) New York Knicks in Round 1.
Western Conference Predictions:
Utah Jazz vs. (4) Los Angeles Clippers
Although Donovan Mitchell has been playing out of his mind, I genuinely believe the Clippers are the best team in the West and will win this series in six games. Considering their entire roster as a whole, the Clippers have the deepest team on paper in the entire NBA. If Paul George and Kawhi Leonard continue to live up to their “superstar status,” the Clippers have a great chance to make it out of the West. With that said, the Clippers will need to win all three of the next three games, including the crucial Game 5 in Utah, as I do not believe they can afford to play a Game 7 in Utah with that deafening crowd.
Phoenix Suns vs. (6) Denver Nuggets
While other teams are fighting their way to reach the Conference Finals, the Phoenix Suns have already discarded and run through the depleted Denver Nuggets. Without Jamal Murray, the Nuggets looked completely over matched and got blown out in nearly every game of the series.
Western Conference Finals:
(2) Phoenix Suns vs. (4) Los Angeles Clippers
Similar to their previous two series match-ups, I believe the Clippers will get off to a slow start and the Suns will come out guns blazing. Hosting the first two games in Phoenix, the Suns will more than likely take both games at home and go up 2-0 in the series. With that said, this may sound crazy but I think that if the Clippers stay healthy and their bench continues to step-up, they will force a Game 7 back in Phoenix and find a way to pull out an upset over Chris Paul and Devin Booker.
Eastern Conference Predicitions:
Philadelphia 76ers vs. (5) Atlanta Hawks
This series will most likely be a mismatch in favor of the Philadelphia 76ers, as the Atlanta Hawks will have no answer for Joel Embiid. Unless Embiid manages to suffer an injury sometime during this series, he should average somewhere around 35 points and 15 rebounds per game and the 76ers should win in 5 games.
Brooklyn Nets vs. (3) Milwaukee Bucks
Despite his undeniable success in the regular season, I do not see Giannis Antetokounpo overcoming his playoff struggles both at the late game free throw line and shooting the basketball anywhere outside the paint. Furthermore, the Brooklyn Nets are simply too talented with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden to lose this series, so I have the Nets winning in 6 games. However, just like the 76ers vs. Hawks series, if the Nets prove to be injury prone as they were in the regular season, they may run into trouble down the stretch.
Eastern Conference Finals:
Philadelphia 76ers vs. (2) Brooklyn Nets
Continuing his overall dominance throughout games, Joel Embiid will have a significant impact on this series with his presence in the paint. Additionally, considering the fact that Brooklyn has no answer for Embiid on both sides of the floor, I believe this series will go the distance. Moreover, Doc Rivers has converted Philadelphia into a defensive-minded team as the 76ers have three players that made the NBA All-Defensive team this year, including Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Matisse Thybulle. Unfortunately, I think that Ben Simmons’ inability to make late game free throws and Joel Embiid’s inconsistency when it comes to his ability to stay healthy will come back to haunt this talented 76ers team and they will lose this series in Game 7 at home.
Brooklyn Nets vs. (2) Los Angeles Clippers
Assuming my predictions above were accurate and players remained healthy, which is very unlikely as there have been many unexpected injuries throughout the year, I have the Nets facing off against the Clippers in the NBA Finals. Neither franchise has ever won the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, so I expect this series to be physical and long. I predict that the Brooklyn Nets will beat the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 at home in Brooklyn and become the 2021 NBA Champions. The Nets have built arguably the most unstoppable, unimaginable super-team in the history of the NBA and I do not see anyone overcoming the firepower that they possess.