- East: (7) Brooklyn Nets vs. (8) Cleveland Cavaliers
The Brooklyn Nets defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers, reserving the 7 seed and await their matchup against 2 seed, Boston Celtics. The loser of the 7/8 game, Cleveland Cavaliers will host the winner of the 9/10 game.
- East: (9) Atlanta Hawks vs. (10) Charlotte Hornets
The Atlanta Hawks defeat the the Charlotte Hornets, and then travel to Cleveland for a matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Charlotte Hornets are now officially out of the playoffs.
Atlanta Hawks defeats Charlotte Hornets, officially claiming the 8 seed to face the Miami Heat in a best of seven game series.
- West: (7) Minnesota Timberwolves vs. (8) Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers defeats the Minnesota Timberwolves, reserving the 7 seed and await their matchup against 2 seed, Memphis Grizzlies. The loser of the 7/8 game, Minnesota Timberwolves will host the winner of the 9/10 game at home.
- West: (9) New Orleans Pelicans vs. (10) San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs defeats the New Orleans Pelicans, and then travel to Minnesota for a matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The New Orleans Pelicans are now officially out of the playoffs.
The San Antonio Spurs defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves, officially claiming the 8 seed to face the Phoenix Suns in a best of seven game series.
Round 1 Predictions
- 1 seed, Miami beats 8 seed, Atlanta 4 games to 2. Trae Young is amazing, but Miami is the best all around team in the league and Eric Spoelstra is one of the best NBA coaches at mid-game adjustments. Atlanta is not deep enough to beat the Heat in seven.
- 7 seed, Brooklyn beats 2 seed, Boston 4 games to 3. A healthy Ben Simmons rebounding and adding stellar defense would make this easier, but even without Simmons, Brooklyn is the better team. Outside of a horrible streak mid-year, Brooklyn has been very good, and now consistently has both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving playing. Boston’s lack of size will show, and ultimately be the difference in the deciding game.
- 3 seed, Milwaukee beats 6 seed, Chicago 4 games to 1. This is the easiest series to call. The Bulls have been sliding for a while and this is about as tough of a matchup as they could get. Chicago would have done better pulling Miami on the draw. The Bucks intentionally bonkered the end of season to slide into the 3 seed and avoid the Brooklyn Nets, and this is why. The Bulls missing Lonzo Ball and bringing back Alex Caruso who has been sitting for a bit, only makes things tougher. This should be an easy series win for Milwaukee.
- 4 seed, Philadelphia beats 5 seed, Toronto 4 games to 3. I am expecting the Raptors to win every home game and lose every road game. Philadelphia is just too much for the Raptors offensively. Toronto took the regular season matchup 3 games to 2, but this a different team. Tyrese Maxey is now one of the best backcourt players in the game, the Ben Simmons distractions are no more, and James Harden is anxious to prove something and get deep in the playoffs.
- 1 seed, Phoenix beats 8 seed, San Antonio 4 games to 1. The young Spurs led by the GOAT, Coach Popovich will be ready and give their all, but Phoenix has too much firepower. One staple of Popovich coached teams is defense, but unlike teams of San Antonio’s past, this team is fairly mediocre at defending the paint and worse at defending the 3; areas where Phoenix excels. Young stars Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell get a chance to meet the national stage, but Chris Paul, Devin Booker and team will be too much for San Antonio.
- 7 seed, LA Clippers beats 2 seed, Memphis 4 games to 3. This, like in the East, my shocker coming from the 2/7 game. I do not suspect Kawhi Leonard will be back for either the play-in game(s) or the playoffs. I do however expect Paul George to remind everyone that when healthy he is a top 10 player in the NBA, and that few take over a game better than George. Also, the Clippers are the deepest team in the west. A healthy Leonard would make them the best team in the league. Ja Morant and Memphis are almost as deep, as they proved winning without Ja, but the Clippers will win this round 1 matchup.
- 3 seed, Golden State beats 6 seed, Denver 4 games to 2. The current, and likely repeating MVP, Nikola Jokic is a load, and even though he is still without Jamal Murray, the supporting cast is not bad. However Klay Thompson is back, fresh off a 40-point performance, and Steph Curry will be returning to action soon, making Golden State the better team. Few teams have as much playoff experience as the Warriors, and they are lethal with home court advantage.
- 5 seed, Utah beats 4 seed, Dallas 4 games to 0. Luka will literally do most of this by himself. He is fully capable and will relish this moment. The greatest concern for the Utah Jazz is the inconsistent shooting of their star player, Donovan Mitchell. Minus a few games, Mitchell has been really bad, especially in the 4th quarter. Defensive stopper, Rudy Gobert is a liability late in games does to erratic free throw shooting. The Mavericks will outlast Utah and close the show at home in game 7.
UPDATE – NONE OF THIS MATTERS. Luka Doncic is out with no timetable for his return. The Utah Jazz will sweep the Dallas Mavericks.
Round 2 Predictions
Eastern Conference Semifinals
1 seed, Miami beats 4 seed, Philadelphia 4 games to 3. This will go seven, but again, Miami is too deep. The X factor is Tyler Herro. Herro has been the best player on the Heat for over a month now, and he’s not even a starter. Bam Adebayo is a difficult matchup for Joel Embiid on both sides of the floor. Veterans Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler are both scorers and capable defenders. This will be a great series, with Miami winning game 7 at home. This will be the best series in this year’s playoffs.
7 seed, Brooklyn beats 3 seed, Milwaukee 4 games to 3. In a repeat of a last year’s fantastic series we get more drama, but this time it will not be Kevin Durant’s large feet giving the Nets life, while taking it away at the same time. The Nets will have to win at least one road game in Milwaukee, and I have them winning two! KD and Kyrie closing the show will be too much for the Bucks. Giannis, being the machine he is will be up to the task, but not enough to hold off Brooklyn.
Western Conference Semifinals
1 seed, Phoenix beats 4 seed, Utah 4 games to 1. This is not a great matchup for Utah. Phoenix is clearly the superior team. Veterans, Mike Conley, and Rudy Gay will need to play three notches above their normal output, and Donovan Mitchell needs to return to top-10 player in the league form. to give Utah a chance. Even then, Phoenix runs this in five games.
3 seed, Golden State beats 7 seed, LA Clippers 4 games to 1. Assuming Kawhi Leonard does not return the Warriors will have their way with the Clippers. The Warriors given more time to figure out how to properly use Jordan Poole and regularly insert him into the mix with Steph, Klay and Draymond is a scary thing for Golden State opponents. The Clippers are a deep team, but Golden State’s starting 5 will hog most minutes and the Clippers will not defend the 3-point line well enough to survive.
Round 3 Predictions
Eastern Conference Finals
7 seed, Brooklyn beats 1 seed, Miami 4 games to 3. But for pure talent and desire the Nets will best the Heat over seven games. As I have stated more than once, the Miami Heat are a very deep team. The deepest in the NBA, but Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant on the same team I just cannot bet against. Both Durant and Irving have something to prove. That they can win without their former star support. Kevin without the Splash Brothers, and Kyrie without Lebron James. Getting to the Finals would shed some of that baggage, win or lose.
Western Conference Finals
3 seed, Golden State beats 1 seed, Phoenix 4 games to 2. Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors are destined to return to the Finals. Unfortunately, another heartbreaker is in the cards for Chris Paul. We know how capable Chris Paul and Devin Booker are of taking over a game, but no one gets hotter faster than Steph Curry. The hotter Curry gets, the more open Klay Thompson gets, which is bad news for Phoenix.
The NBA Finals
THE BROOKLYN NETS DEFEAT THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS 4 GAMES TO 3. Kevin Durant averages 37 points per game and he cements his legacy as the best scorer of all time, while winning Finals MVP. Steph Curry is his usual self, but just not enough to hold off the Nets. You can be sure Durant wants to show the Golden State faithful that he has not lost a step. KD and Kyrie winning a title without James Harden would be sweet for both, and cement their legacy as two of the best the game has ever seen. Kyrie Irving playing with a chip on his shoulder, particularly interested in showing the league the mistake they made leaving him off of the 75 greatest players team.