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NBA playoff predictions: Bracket picks & 2022 Finals champion

Vincent Frank

Now that the 2021-22 postseason is in full bloom, it’s time to check in on our NBA Playoff predictions with the conference finals now upon us.

It was an odd season around the Association with the Los Angeles Lakers struggling big time and missing out on the postseason. Meanwhile, up-and-comers such as the Memphis Grizzlies have made some noise.

As for the Playoffs themselves, we’re down to four teams. Back east, the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics will do battle. Out west, the Dallas Mavericks will take on the Golden State Warriors with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line. Below, we provide predictions for these two series.

Related: Sportsnaut’s updated NBA power rankings

Eastern Conference NBA Playoff predictions and seeds

  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)
  8. Atlanta Hawks (43-39)

Western Conference NBA Playoff predictions and seeds

nba playoff predictions: golden state warriors, phoenix suns
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
  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)
  8. New Orleans Pelicans (36-46)

NBA Playoffs bracket predictions: Matchups and winners

Eastern Conference, first round

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 (4-1)

2. Boston Celtics over 7. Brooklyn Nets (4-0)

Western Conference, first round

1. Phoenix Suns over 8. New Orleans Pelicans (4-2)

4. Dallas Mavericks over 5. Utah Jazz (4-2)

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

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

NBA Playoff predictions: Conference semifinal results

nba playoff predictions: miami heat
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Eastern Conference

1. Miami Heat over 4. Philadelphia 76ers (4-2)

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

Western Conference

4. Dallas Mavericks over 1. Phoenix Suns (4-3)

3. Golden State Warriors over 2. Memphis Grizzlies (4-2)

NBA playoff predictions: Conference finals

Eastern Conference

1. Miami Heat over 2. Boston Celtics (4-3)

nba playoff predictions: miami heat over boston celtics
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Boston might be the attractive pick heading into the Eastern Conference Finals after it took out Brooklyn and Milwakee in the first two rounds. There’s several reasons for this. First off, the Celtics continue to play elite-level ball on the defensive end of the court. Led by Marcus Smart, this unit did a number against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Even then, it really is hard to pick against a Heat squad that looked much superior than its first two opponents in that of the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers. Jimmy Butler is playing at a whole other level on both ends of the court.

The expectation here is that Butler’s defense will be enough to prevent Jayson Tatum from dominating on the offensive end of the court. Without Tatum doing his thing, who is going to step up for the Celtics?

Western Conference

3. Golden State Warriors over 4. Dallas Mavericks (4-2)

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas took three of four from Golden State during the regular season. It is coming off an eye-opening series win over the defending Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns. Luka Doncic is playing better basketball than any player we’ve seen since Lebron James during his heyday with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

So, why would we pick Golden State here? There’s a few reasons. The Warriors boast home-court advantage in the series. They’ve won their six home games in the 2022 NBA Playoffs by a combined 87 points. Meanwhile, Draymond Green only played in one of the four games against Dallas during the regular season. It doesn’t take a genius to understand just how much of a difference he’ll make on defense.

Golden State has the championship experience. It boasts the deeper roster. It has home-court. Look for the Warriors to earn an NBA Finals appearance for the sixth time in eight seasons.

2022 NBA Finals predictions: Golden State Warriors over Miami Heat (4-3)