So far, this has been one of the strangest NBA playoffs we’ve ever seen. Giannis and the 1-seed Milwaukee Bucks lost to the 8-seed Miami Heat in 5 games? A 1-seed taking that bad of a beating from an 8-seed literally has never happened before in the NBA. Meanwhile, the 7-seed Los Angeles Lakers destroyed the 2-seed Memphis Grizzlies in a closeout game that seemingly brought Jack Nicholson back from the dead. Oh yeah, and the Warriors just beat the Kings (AKA the Beam Team) in a game 7 in Sacramento. It’s been a wild ride, and we’re just getting started.
The second round of the NBA playoffs has already begun with the Heat handing the Knicks an L in Madison Square Garden despite a turned ankle for Jimmy Butler. Needless to say, these playoffs have been impossible to predict–but let’s try to do it anyway.
Boston Celtics (2) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (3)
Prediction: Celtics in 7
This is difficult to admit as a lifetime Lakers fan, but, Celtics good. That concludes my analysis of the Boston Celtics.
With the MVP award all but locked up for Joel Embiid, we all thought this would be the year the 76ers would break through the eastern conference shuffle. It appears that Embiid’s sprained knee has something to say about that. With Embiid hobbled, or potentially missing a significant chunk of the series, it feels safe to assume that Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown will eventually eat the 76er’s lunch. But I expect the Celtics to show some cracks just below the surface as head coach Joe Mazzulla continues to think that Marcus Smart is better than Derrick White (which he is not). Ever the tragic figure, Joel Embiid will be just good enough to push this series seven games, but won’t be able to get over the hump.
New York Knicks (5) vs. Miami Heat (8)
Prediction: Heat in 6
Only six players in NBA history have ever had as dominant a first round series than Jimmy Butler just did against the Bucks.
The Knicks are uniquely positioned to slow Butler down with their combination of big men including Mitchell Robinson … Oh wait, Jimmy just went through this with Cavs big men Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, and they didn’t slow him down at all. If the Cavs couldn’t stop Jimmy, I have a hard time imagining the Knicks (who, ironically, are like a less talented version of the Cavs) having much success against the Heat.
Golden State Warriors (6) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (7)
Prediction: Lakers in 7
If you peek at ESPN’s predictions for this series, the experts would have you believe that this series is going to end in six in the Warriors favor. Typical coastal elites–sleeping on the little Mom and Pop shop in Los Angeles, giving all the benefit of the doubt to the trillionaires up in Silicon Valley. Well, let me channel my inner LeBron and copy-and-paste some Jay-Z lyrics and lace them with emojis:
If you're having [Steph Curry] problems 🤬
I feel bad for you son 🤬
I got ninety-nine problems but [Draymond Green] ain't one 🤬
Here’s why I think Lakers can beat the Warriors in a 7-game series:
- Lakers won three of the four matchups against the Warriors during the regular season (injuries on both sides)
- LeBron will be absolutely fired up to play against his frenemy Stephen Curry
- Besides Jimmy Butler, Anthony Davis is the best two-way player left in the playoffs
- The Vandalorian (Jarred Vanderbilt) will guard Steph full court
- I already bet my entire paycheck that Lakers will win in 7 games
Denver Nuggets (1) vs. Phoenix Suns (4)
Prediction: Nuggets in 6
We all thought the Phoenix Suns would rip through the western conference after acquiring Kevin Durant, but surprisingly that hasn’t been the case thus far. The Suns struggled putting away a Clippers team led by Russell Westbrook and Normal Powell. Now they can’t get a win in Denver with the series off to an early 2-0 lead for the Nuggets. This Suns team has not hit the ground running like we all expected and they’re quickly running out of runway. I’m definitely terrified of the Suns, just not this season.
Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, who made quick work of the uppity Timberwolves, look poised to make the run Joel Embiid was supposed to make this season. Without the weight of the MVP expectations, I think Jokic makes it to the NBA finals this year.