2022 NBA Playoffs Predictions
Phoenix Suns (1) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (8)
In a world where Chris Paul played the entire regular season, the Suns likely would have won 70 games. C Deandre Ayton has been balling all year for a max contract and it would be uncharacteristic of him to slow down now. Devin Booker has played an MVP-caliber season and Monty Williams ran away with the Coach of the Year. Phoenix will be a tough out. The Suns are ranked 1st in defensive efficiency whereas the Pelicans are ranked 20th in the league. We are not quite sure how the Pelicans were able to finesse their way into the playoffs this year but it won’t take too long for them to exit. Suns in 4.
Memphis Grizzlies (2) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (7)
Despite Patrick Beverley’s overwhelming confidence, the Timberwolves will fall to Ja Morant and the Grizzlies in a competitive series. Memphis PF Jaren Jackson Jr. should win Defensive Player of the Year, G Desmond Bane is shooting 43.6% from three this season, G Dillon Brooks is one of the top two-way players in the NBA, and C Steven Adams averages 10 repounds per game. Although G Anthony Edwards has shown potential and may have a breakout series alongside Karl-Anthony Towns, the Timberwolves are too inexperienced thus far. Say it with me Pat Bev: “One, two, three Cancun!” Grizzlies in 6.
Golden State Warriors (3) vs. Denver Nuggets (6)
Like the Mavericks, the Warriors have their star player, Stephen Curry, coming off of an injury straight into playoff action. If Curry can pick up where he left off, Golden State should have no problem with the Nuggets. Although Denver is led by the NBA’s reigning MVP, C Nikola Jokic, the Warriors have too much depth for the Nuggets. G Jordan Poole has come out of nowhere this season, G Klay Thompson has finally found his groove again after coming off of a torn ACL and achilles, SF Andrew Wiggins has found a new home in Golden State after making his first All Star team, and the Warriors are still led by one of the best passers and defensive forces in the NBA, PF Draymond Green. Assuming Steph is healthy for the entire series, the Warriors will win with ease. Warriors in 5.
Dallas Mavericks (4) vs. Utah Jazz (5)
Luka Doncic is the x-factor in this series. He is out for game 1 and if he does not return before game 3, the Mavericks will get swept. Assuming Doncic returns for game 2, this series could go 6 or 7 games. The series will ultimately come down to who has more depth and the Jazz win that battle all day. With Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, Rudy Gay, Royce O’Neal, and Mike Conley Jr. to support Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, the Jazz will be too much to handle for the Mavs. Moreover, in crunch time, Utah will put two, maybe three guys on Doncic and force someone else to beat them, and the Mavericks do not have anyone to support Doncic if such a situation plays out. Jazz in 6.
Phoenix Suns (1) vs. Utah Jazz (5)
Assuming Devin Booker and Chris Paul are healthy for round 2, the Suns should have no problem with the 5th seeded Jazz. Utah’s Donovan Mitchell is capable of taking a game over and Rudy Gobert, 2x Defensive Player of the Year, is no slouch. Mitchell will likely have one game where he is completely unconscious, thus the Jazz may take one game at home. Suns in 5.
Memphis Grizzlies (2) vs. Golden State Warriors (3)
Memphis is a common pick to win the title among NBA analysts, but the young Grizz are still one year away. Ja Morant had a breakout year and Jaren Jackson Jr. has played a DPOY-caliber season. However, Memphis does not have the firepower to overcome Steph, Klay, Draymond, Wiggins, and a scorching hot Jordan Poole. This series will not reach a game 7. Warriors in 6.
Western Conference Finals:
Phoenix Suns (1) vs. Golden State Warriors (3)
Despite Chris Paul’s excellence as of late, the Suns may have some trouble with Golden State. The Warriors’ three-guard lineup has yet to be stopped and Steph Curry is not even at 100%. Jordan Poole gets better by the possetion and the Warriors continue to be one of the most unselfish teams in basketball. If both teams bring their A games and injuries do not alter the outcome of the series, the Warriors are simply the better all-around team on both ends of the floor. Warriors in 7.
Miami Heat (1) vs. Atlanta Hawks (8)
Although Trae Young had an incredible showing in the play-in round, Atlanta will not be able to take a game off of the Heat without C John Collins and Clint Capela. Led by Jimmy Butler and head coach Eric Spoelstra, the Heat are too experienced to fall to an undermanned Hawks team. To make matters worse for the Hawks, the Miami Heat also have the soon to be 6th Man of the Year in G Tyler Herro. Heat in 4.
Boston Celtics (2) vs. Brooklyn Nets (7)
Believe it or not, but a 2-seed versus 7-seed will be the best series of the entire Eastern Conference side of the bracket. Brooklyn may be the best 7-seed in the history of the NBA, while the Celtics are playing the best basketball in all of the NBA. This should be one for the ages. Ultimately, despite the firepower that the Nets possess with superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown as well as Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart will be too overwhleming for just Durant and Irving to overcome. Celtics in 7.
Milwaukee Bucks (3) vs. Chicago Bulls (6)
Chicago has put together a nice season with their new roster, led by Demar DeRozan and Zach Lavine, but without Lonzo Ball at point guard to facilitate the offense and lock-up the opposing guard, the Bulls wil struggle against a team like the Bucks. Honestly, the Bulls could steal a game at home, but Giannis, Holiday, and Middleton are so dominant that Chicago may get swept. Bucks in 5.
Philadelphia 76ers (4) vs. Toronto Raptors (5)
Many analysts say that this series will not only be close but Toronto may win it; that will not be the case. James Harden and Joel Embiid are building chemistry by the dripple and Tyrese Maxey just gets better every game. If Philadelphia figures out how to blend Tobias Harris into the mix, they could make a run at the title. 76ers in 5.
Miami Heat (1) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (4)
This series may go the distance. Jimmy Butler will have something for his former team, the 76ers, while Joel Embiid and James Harden are hungrier than ever to win their first titles respectively. Ultimately, it will come down to depth and even off the bench the two teams are a push. Both Tyler Herro (Heat) and Tyrese Maxey (76ers) are playing with supreme confidence, but the difference in depth goes beyond those two young stars. The Heat have Markief Morris and Victor Oladipo, while the 76ers have Mattisse Thybulle and Danny Green. This series could go either way if it does in fact reach a game 7, but C Joel Embiid will be too much for C Bam Adebayo down low. 76ers in 7.
Boston Celtics (2) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (3)
In another nailbiter, although the Celtics have the Defensive Player of the Year in Marcus Smart, he is not big enough to stop Giannis Antetokounpo from the rim. Furthermore, Taytum and Brown will be worn out from a long series with Brooklyn and may be unexpectadly overrun by Milwaukee. Ultimately, this series will be another lengthy one for Boston and they will not have enough left in the tank to hang with the Greek Freak and company. Bucks in 6.
Eastern Conference Finals:
Milwaukee Bucks (3) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (4)
Joel Embiid and James Harden will finally meet their match. Jrue Holiday will give Harden some problems and make him look very ordinary, and Coach Budenholzer will throw Brook Lopez, Serge Ibaka, Bobby Portis, and Giannis Antetokounpo all at Joel Embiid to make his life as challenging as possible. Both Embiid and Harden will find themselves beyong aggravated and begin to complain to the referees about every call (not that they do not already do that). Bucks in 6.
Golden State Warriors (3) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (3)
Although the Warriors may have a better starting five, the Bucks will have the most dominant player on the court and slighlty more weapons off the bench. Gary Payton II for the Warriors is a nice defensive piece, but he will match-up against Jrue Holiday who is not Golden State’s top concern. Unfortunately for the Warriors, they do not have anyone that can prevent Giannis from the rim. Draymond does his best, but he is simply not big enough, and C Kevon Looney plays with a high motor, but is not athletic enough to keep up with Giannis. At the end of the day, Giannis will continue to be unstoppable and unless he shows me otherwise, Steph Curry will likely continue to struggle from beyond the arc (for his standards) in the postseason. The Warriors are too small for Milwaukee. Bucks in 7.