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NBA playoff predictions: Bracket picks & 2024 Finals champion

Check out the latest NBA playoff predictions for the 2023-24 season as the offseason is officially underway with teams chasing the NBA Finals!

The 2023-24 NBA regular season is now a thing of the past. With it comes our NBA Playoff predictions, starting with the NBA Play-In Tournament.

Back east, the Boston Celtics are absolutely dominating and look like the odds-on title favorites. In the Western Conference, it’s been two surprising teams in that of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves who are opening eyes. But the Denver Nuggets continue to maintain their status as as one of the teams to beat.

Below, we give you our NBA playoff predictions for the 2023-24 campaign.

Related: Updated 2024 NBA power rankings

Eastern Conference NBA playoff predictions and seeds

NBA Playoff predictions: Eastern Conference
Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Boston Celtics (64-18)
  2. New York Knicks (50-32)
  3. Milwaukee Bucks (49-33)
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers (48-34)
  5. Orlando Magic (47-35)
  6. Indiana Pacers (47-35)
  7. Philadelphia 76ers (47-35) – NBA Play-In Tournament
  8. Miami Heat (46-36) – NBA Play-In Tournament
  9. Chicago Bulls (39-43) – NBA Play-In Tournament
  10. Atlanta Hawks (36-46) – NBA Play-In Tournament
  • The Boston Celtics remain the cream of the crop in the Association as the NBA Playoffs get going. That includes posting a 9-3 record against other top-end title contenders in the Eastern Conference this season. The trio of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porzingis are averaging a combined 70.3 points, 21.0 rebounds and 10.5 assists per game.
  • Jalen Brunson. Jalen Brunson. More Jalen Brunson. The NBA MVP candidate has been absolutely nothing less than ridiculous since March 14. That 16-game span has seen him average 34.8 points and 7.4 assists on 49% shooting. Unfortunately for the New York Knicks, Julius Randle is lost for the remainder of the season. That will impact them big time moving forward.
  • The Milwaukee Bucks’ ability to contend once the NBA Playoffs start depends on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s health. He suffered a strained calf in a game against Boston earlier in ths week and missed the remainder of the regular season. If Giannis can’t go, the Bucks are doomed. A Round 1 matchup against a high-scoring Indiana Pacers team magnifies this to a T.

Related: 2024 NBA MVP race

  • Now that the Cleveland Cavaliers landed home-court advantage in the NBA Playoffs, it is absolutely huge for their chances to advance. The Cavs found themselves 13 games over .500 at home and just three games over .500 on the road. Taking on Orlando in the first round, our NBA Playoff predictions will be telling this regard.
  • The Orlando Magic are going to be a difficult out in the NBA Playoffs. Youngster Paolo Banchero leads a deep and young team. The sophomore forward finished the regular season averaging 22.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. Franz Wagner, Jalen Suggs, Wendell Carter Jr. and Cole Anthony are also youngsters who could play a major role in Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
  • The Indiana Pacers’ biggest issue as it relates to our NBA Playoff predictions is all about their inability to stop anyone on defense. They rank 28th in the NBA in points allowed at 120.2 points per game. But any team with Tyrese Haliburton leading things on the other end is going to be dangarous.

Eastern Conference NBA Play-In Tournament picks: Philadelphia 76ers Miami Heat

Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers host the Miami Heat in the seven-eight game in the NBA Play-In Tournament. The winner will take on the New York Knicks in Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs. The loser will take on the winner of the Chicago Bulls’ home date with the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth seed. It goes without saying that we’re predictiong the 76ers and Heat to advance to the NBA Playoffs. In that order.

  • Picks: 76ers over Heat – Bulls over Hawks – Heat over Hawks

Western Conference NBA playoff predictions and seeds

NBA Playoff predictions
Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Oklahoma City Thunder (57-25)
  2. Denver Nuggets (57-25)
  3. Minnesota Timberwolves (56-26)
  4. Los Angeles Clippers (51-31)
  5. Dallas Mavericks (50-32)
  6. Phoenix Suns (49-33)
  7. New Orleans Pelicans (49-33) – NBA Play-In Tournament
  8. Los Angeles Lakers (47-35) – NBA Play-In Tournament
  9. Sacramento Kings (46-36) – NBA Play-In Tournament
  10. Golden State Warriors (46-36) – NBA Play-In Tournament
  • Led by NBA MVP candidate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (30.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 6.2 APG), these Oklahoma City Thunder are going to be a dangerous out in the playoffs. Forward Jalen Williams is in the midst of a breakout and averaging nearly 20 points per game. Chet Holmgren’s all-around game as a “rookie” adds another layer to this. Finishing the regular season as the No. 1 seed adds another layer to this.
  • The Denver Nuggets’ falling to the second seed out west was a bit of a surprise. The defending champions will now likely be forced into a Round 1 matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans or Los Angeles Lakers. That’s not an ideal scenario for Nikola Jokic and Co. Don’t expect an easy series for Denver in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
  • Anthony Edwards is a star for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The duo of Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns have done their thing. These Wolves are in position for a deep playoff run. That’s magnified with their 20-12 record against Western Conference teams still in the postseason race. Though, they do face a difficult Round 1 matchup against Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Playoffs.

Related: NBA executives expect Minnesota Timberwolves to trade Karl-Anthony Towns this summer

  • It’s really going to be all about health for the Los Angeles Clippers. Isn’t that always the case? Kawhi Leonard is sidelined to a knee injury. James Harden has followed him to the bench. If these two are not healthy, we can’t expect Paul George and Russell Westbrook to carry the Clippers too far. That’s especially true with a first-roun matchup agains the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Playoffs.
  • When Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic are on the court together, there is not a much better tandem in the Association. What separates these Dallas Mavericks from previous iterations, though, is their size heading into the postseason. Rookie Dereck Lively II has been great. Acquired in a mid-season trade from the Washington Wizards, Daniel Gafford has been, too. They’ll play a huge role in Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs against the Clippers.
  • The Phoenix Suns were just barely able to avoid a spot in the NBA Play-In Tournament after New Orleans was blown out at home against the Lakers to conclude the regular season. It now sets up a difficult first-round matchup in the NBA Playoffs against a loaded Minnesota Timberwolves squad. But with the likes of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal healthy, this feels like a potential upset.

Western Conference NBA Play-In Tournament picks

The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA Play-In Tournament to advance to Round 1 of the playoffs against the defending champion Nuggets. The Kings blew out Golden State. They’ll visit the Pelicans Friday with the eighth seed on the line.

  • Picks: Lakers over Pelicans – Kings over Warriors – Pelicans over Kings

NBA playoff predictions: Matchups and winners

NBA Playoff predictions
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Eastern Conference first round (results and predictions)

  • 1) Boston Celtics over 8) Miami Heat (4-1)
  • 4) Cleveland Cavaliers over Orlando Magic (4-3)
  • 6) Indiana Pacers over 3) Milwaukee Bucks (4-2)
  • 2) New York Knicks over 7) Philadelphia 76ers (4-2)

Western Conference first round (results and predictions)

  • 1) Oklahoma City Thunder over 8) New Orleans Pelicans (4-0)
  • 5) Dallas Mavericks over 4) Los Angeles Clippers (4-2)
  • 3) Minnesota Timberwolves over 6) Phoenix Suns (4-0)
  • 2) Denver Nuggets over 7) Los Angeles Lakers (4-1)

NBA playoff predictions: Conference semifinals (results)

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Oklahoma City Thunder
Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Eastern Conference semifinals

  • 1) Boston Celtics over 4) Cleveland Cavaliers (4-1)
  • 6) Indiana Pacers over 2) New York Knicks (4-3)

Western Conference semifinals

  • 5) Dallas Mavericks over 1) Oklahoma City Thunder (4-2)
  • 3) Minnesota Timberwolves over 2) Denver Nuggets (4-3)

NBA playoff predictions: Conference finals

NBA: Boston Celtics at New York Knicks
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Eastern Conference conference finals

  • 1) Boston Celtics over 6) Indiana Pacers(4-2)

Western Conference conference finals

  • 3) Minnesota Timberwolves over 5) Dallas Mavericks (4-3)

Related: 50 best NBA players of 2024

2024 NBA Finals predictions: Boston Celtics over Minnesota Timberwolves (4-2)

nba playoff predictions: boston celtics
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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