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NBA Playoff Predictions: Bracket Picks and the Winner of the 2022 Finals

Now that the regular season is over in 2021-22, we can revisit our NBA Playoff predictions.

It was an unusual season in the NBA, with the Los Angeles Lakers struggling mightily and missing the playoffs. In the meantime, up-and-comers like the Memphis Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers have made waves.

For one last time before the play-in round begins this week, look at our NBA playoff predictions below.

NBA Playoff Predictions for the Eastern Conference

  1. Miami Heat (53-29)
  2. Boston Celtics (51-31)
  3. Milwaukee Bucks (51-31)
  4. Philadelphia 76ers (51-31)
  5. Toronto Raptors (48-34)
  6. Chicago Bulls (46-36)
  7. Brooklyn Nets (44-38)

Play-In Tournament in the NBA

  • Cleveland Cavaliers (44-38)
  • Atlanta Hawks (43-39)

NBA Playoff predictions: The Nets beat the Cavaliers for the No. 7 position, but Sportsnaut predicts the Hawks will take the eighth seed.

How will Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving get along when the play-in game arrives? That was a big question heading into the Cavaliers’ matchup on Tuesday. Irving more than delivered, connecting on his first 12 shots of the game en route to a 34-point performance in a 115-108 victory over Cleveland, securing a first-round matchup against the Boston Celtics.

NBA Playoff Predictions Bracket Picks and the Winner of the 2022 Finals (1)

NBA MVP candidate Joel Embiid and his new jogging companion, James Harden, appear to be a dynamic combo on the other end of the spectrum. Embiid, in particular, was playing at an unfathomable level for the 76ers as the regular season came to a close. Over his final 35 games, the big man averaged 32.9 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists.

While these two teams are the biggest stories in the east heading into the playoffs, the Miami Heat are staying out of the headlines and playing as consistently. Miami, led by Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro (yes, that’s a thing), and Bam Adebayo, has to be considered a legitimate title candidate. In the Eastern Conference Playoffs, it also has a home-court advantage.

The reigning champion Bucks are still a formidable opponent for the faltering Chicago Bulls in Round 1. The recent performances of Giannis Antetokounmpo tell the story of a squad that is heading in the right direction at the right time. Will our NBA Playoff forecasts reflect this?

We’re also looking forward to seeing how the Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, and Toronto Raptors fare once the playoffs arrive.

Chicago has been in the Eastern Conference’s top three teams for most of the season. Due to an injury to Lonzo Ball and poor play, this squad has lost six of ten games coming into the playoffs.

Boston appeared to be on its way to the play-in tournament for the second year in a row for the first part of the season’s first half of the season. That’s when the defense stepped up big time, leading to a 26-5 record in the team’s remaining 31 regular-season games. Meanwhile, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are finally gelling on the wing. Tatum scored 30.1 points per game in his final 26 games.

On the other hand, the Raptors have made a significant turnaround thanks to players like Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and standout youngster Scottie Barnes.

The aforementioned Nets and Hawks make it out of the play-in tournament, completing our NBA Playoff predictions in the east.

NBA Playoff Predictions Bracket Picks and the Winner of the 2022 Finals (2)

NBA Playoff Predictions for the Western Conference

  1. Phoenix Suns (64-18)
  2. Memphis Grizzlies (56-26)
  3. Golden State Warriors (53-29)
  4. Dallas Mavericks (52-30)
  5. Utah Jazz (49-33)
  6. Denver Nuggets (48-34)
  7. Minnesota Timberwolves (46-36)

Play-In Tournament in the NBA

  • Los Angeles Clippers (42-40)
  • New Orleans Pelicans (36-46)

Playoff predictions for the NBA: The Timberwolves and Clippers have advanced past the play-in round.

The defending Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns’ season was on the verge of being derailed when Chris Paul suffered a thumb injury. It was not to be. With him out of the lineup, the Phoenix Suns went 11-4.

These Suns are back on track now that Paul is back in the lineup. They have the best record in the NBA and will host the playoffs at home. This club is the favorite to win the championship and will be extremely difficult to beat.

The Golden State Warriors ended the regular season with a five-game winning streak, securing the third seed and a first-round matchup with the Denver Nuggets.

What’s the good news? Golden State will get Stephen Curry back for Game 1 of the series, and Klay Thompson is on a roll (41 points in the season finale against the Pelicans).

If all three teams go into the first round, the Memphis Grizzlies will threaten Phoenix and/or Golden State. This tough team managed to win 56 games in the Western Conference’s toughest division.

The rest of the Western Conference is intriguing since each of the teams in our NBA Playoff predictions has a chance to make a long postseason run. Despite reports of a feud between Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz appeared to be a formidable force before a shaky finish to the regular season.

Dallas is coming off a 52-win regular season, and Luka Doncic is playing some of the finest basketball in the NBA right now. Dallas’ only concern is the calf soreness he sustained in the season finale. There will be more information on this soon, and it will impact the Mavericks’ playoff standing.

The youthful Timberwolves have also piqued our interest. Minnesota has a top-10 record in the NBA this season, thanks to Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and D’Angelo Russell, who had a 60-point game in March. While their team effort in the play-in game was encouraging, KAT will need to remain out of foul trouble against Memphis to have a shot.

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The Denver Nuggets are also difficult to overlook. They’ve been missing Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. for the whole season. In Round 1, they will also face the Warriors. This isn’t to say that Denver doesn’t have a chance when reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic is on the court.

Bracket projections for the NBA Playoffs: Matchups and Winners

NBA Playoff Predictions Bracket Picks and the Winner of the 2022 Finals (3)

The first round of the Eastern Conference

1. Miami Heat over 8. Atlanta Hawks (4-1)

4. Philadelphia 76ers over 5. Toronto Raptors (4-2)

3. Milwaukee Bucks over 6. Chicago Bulls (4-2)

2. Boston Celtics over 7. Brooklyn Nets (4-3)

The first round of the Western Conference

1. Phoenix Suns over 8. Los Angeles Clippers (4-1)

4. Dallas Mavericks over 5. Utah Jazz (4-3)

7. Minnesota Timberwolves over 2. Memphis Grizzlies (4-3)

3. Golden State Warriors over 6. Denver Nuggets (4-1)

Predictions for the NBA Playoffs: Conference Semifinals

In the Eastern Conference,

4. Philadelphia 76ers over 1. Miami Heat (4-3)

2. Boston Celtics over 3. Milwaukee Bucks (4-3)

Conference of the West

1. Phoenix Suns over 7. Minnesota Timberwolves (4-2)

3. Golden State Warriors over 4. Dallas Mavericks (4-3)

Finals of the Conference

In the Eastern Conference,

2. Boston Celtics over 4. Philadelphia 76ers (4-2)

Conference of the West

1. Phoenix Suns over 3. Golden State Warriors (4-2)

The Phoenix Suns will defeat the Boston Celtics 4-2 in the NBA Finals in 2022.

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