NBA Playoffs Preview and Predictions

After seven months, 82 games, and an intense trade deadline, the NBA playoffs are finally here. There was a lot of great competition in the league this year, and a lot of surprises that people didn’t see coming from some teams. 20 teams have qualified for the postseason, and eight of them will participate in the play-in tournament which starts tonight to try and secure a spot in the playoffs. Below are our predictions for the first round. 


Play-In Tournament: 

9 Seeded Pelicans VS 10 Seeded Spurs: 

Matt: I never would’ve expected the Spurs to even get to the play-in tournament, but they managed to finish the season strong and secure the 10 seed over the Lakers. I think this game will be close, but I see the Pelicans winning in the end. 

Rahim: The Spurs are not a contender for the playoffs this year. Although I do not see much promise in the Pelicans either, I think that they will win this game.


7 Seeded Timberwolves VS 8 Seeded Clippers: 

Matt: This is going to be a very fun game to watch. If Paul George wasn’t healthy, I think the Timberwolves would win this game. However, the Clippers have shown all year that even without Paul George they can battle with any team. I’m taking the Clippers to win this game, but I see the Timberwolves winning against the Pelicans or Spurs in the second play-in game.


Rahim: The Clippers have proved me wrong this year. They were competing with top-tier teams all season, and with Paul George, they should handle the Timberwolves without much difficulty. 


9 Seeded Hawks VS 10 Seeded Hornets: 

Matt: This is going to be another fun game to watch. The Hawks haven’t had as good of a season as they did last year, but Trae Young is still a player you don’t want to play against. The Hornets have a lot of depth, and LaMelo Ball is having a great sophomore season. I’m taking the Hornets to win this game. 

Rahim: This is a battle of two young teams that have a lot to prove. Although the Hawks did not win as many games as last year, they are still an electric team with a superstar who can take over at any time. This same description can be applied to the Hornets. Trae Young and LaMelo Ball are going to have a close matchup throughout the game, but in the end, I believe Young’s clutch genes will help the Hawks pull through for the win. 


7 Seeded Nets VS 8 Seeded Cavaliers: 

Matt: The Cavaliers have had a great season this year, they have just suffered injuries from Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen which put them in the Play-In Tournament. With the Nets, you have arguably the best player in the NBA and the best ball handler in the NBA with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, so therefore I have the Nets winning this game. However, this is just one game, so anything could happen just as we just saw in the NCAA Tournaments. 

Rahim: The Nets have had a rollercoaster of a season this year. With Kevin Durant injured and Kyrie being ineligible for the majority of the season, the Nets fell down the ranks. However, both players are healthy and ready to play. Not only do I see them beating the Cavaliers, but I can also see them making a run in the playoffs. 



1 Seeded Suns VS 7/8/9/10 Play-In Winner 

Matt: The Phoenix Suns are the most dominant team in the league, so I really don’t see anyone beating them. The Clippers and Timberwolves can maybe give them a five or six-game series, but there really is no chance that either of these teams beats them in a seven-game series.

Rahim: The Suns are reminiscent of the late 2010s Warriors in my opinion. Obviously, they do not have the splash brothers, but they do have insane chemistry and ball movement. Chris Paul and Devin Booker can give any of these teams a run for their money. I see them beating whoever they face in a five or six-game series. 


4 Seeded Mavericks VS 5 Seeded Jazz

Matt: This series all comes down to Luka Doncic being healthy. It doesn’t sound like his injury is that serious so he should be back for the first round. As talented as the Jazz are, I am picking the Mavericks to win this series in seven games, simply based on the numbers Luka has been putting up. However, if Luka isn’t healthy, the Jazz will win this series. 

Rahim: Luka Doncic is a stud, to say the least. He has been putting up MVP numbers all season and is not bound to lose in the first round. As much talent as the Jazz have, they have had their struggles all season. We saw what a star-studded team can do if they do not have any chemistry. Case in point, the Los Angeles Lakers. Luka and the Magic are running away with this series and winning in six games. 


3 Seeded Warriors VS 6 Seeded Nuggets

Matt: If Stephen Curry comes back from injury playing like he was before he got injured, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Warriors swept the Nuggets. Nikola Jokic is most likely going to win MVP this year, but the Nuggets don’t have their next best players in Jamal Murray and Micheal Porter Jr. for the playoffs. I’m picking the Warriors to win this series in five games. 

Rahim: Although the Nuggets have a great chance with the number one MVP candidate Nikola Jokic, the Warriors are still the Warriors. Who is guarding Steph Curry? Even if Jamal Murray was not injured, I am not sure he would be able to guard Curry either. The Warriors have had their ups and downs during the season, but all Curry needs to do is be himself and they can win in seven games. If not, I will give it to the Nuggets in seven. 


2 Seeded Grizzlies VS 7/8 Play-In Winner

Matt: The Grizzlies have shocked the NBA this year after only being the seventh seed last year. Ja Morant could arguably win the Most Improved Player Award, but even without him, the Grizzlies are a scary team. When Ja Morant wasn’t on the court this year, the Grizzlies went 20-5. I have the Grizzlies winning this series in five games if they play the Timberwolves, and in six games if they play the Clippers. 

Rahim: Ja Morant has proved everyone wrong who says he is just a dunker. He and the Grizzlies have made it all the way to the second seed in a fashion that nobody would expect. Their efficient offensive production and their explosive playmaker Ja Morant are bound for a deep playoff run. They can beat the Timberwolves in four games, and they will beat the Clippers in six games. 


1 Seeded Heat VS 7/8/9/10 Play-In Winner

Matt: The Heat have had a great season, and they earned themselves the one seed even with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo missing some time earlier on in the season. However, if they play the Nets in the first round, I don’t see them winning that series. If the Heat play the Cavaliers, Hornets, or Hawks, I see them winning the series in six games, but if they face the Nets, I have them losing that series in seven games. 

Rahim: This team has shown flashes of greatness over and over for the past three years. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are lockdown defenders, and they have no shortage of scorers throughout the team. They have rightfully earned this number one seed, and they could make it back to the Finals as they did in 2019. I think the Heat can win versus the Cavaliers, Hornets, and Hawks in six games, and the Nets in seven. 


4 Seeded 76ers VS 5 Seeded Raptors

Matt: This is going to be the closest series in the first round. Joel Embiid is going to dominate and there is no question about that, however, James Harden has been very inconsistent lately. Also, Matisse Thybulle who is the 76ers best defender is ineligible to play in Toronto due to not being fully vaccinated. Because of all of these questions, I’m taking the Raptors to win this series in seven games, simply because of their depth and how well they have been playing at the end of the season. 

Rahim: Joel Embiid claimed the scoring title for the first time in his career. He has been a dominant force and there is no question about that. The rest of the team definitely has to be efficient though. The Raptors are known to have good depth and have the ability to dominate on offense from time to time. Matisse Thybulle is not eligible for the game due to not being vaccinated, but that is not as big of a loss as it seems. He is a lockdown defender, but he is not exactly the guy you go to take the last shot. James Harden is still one of the best scorers in the league no matter how inconsistent he is. If he can turn it on later in the series, he can be of aid to Embiid. Also, the question has not been answered. Who can guard Joel Embiid? The 76ers will take the series in game 7. 


3 Seeded Bucks VS 6 Seeded Bulls

Matt: At the beginning of the season, Chicago was a legitimate contender in the East. However, with Lonzo Ball being out for the season, it’s going to be very tough for the Bulls against the reigning champions. DeMar DeRozan has been great this year, but Giannis Antetokounmpo is having an MVP season. I’m taking the Bucks to sweep the Bulls. 

Rahim: This series will be one of the most unpredictable series this year. The Bulls had a tremendous start to the season, but losing Lonzo Ball was a killer for them. Although Demar Derozen proved he can carry his team to a win, it is unlikely that he can get past MVP form Giannis. However, I am not counting them out. I think that realistically, the Bucks will win it in six games. My bold prediction is that the Bulls will make a comeback and win the series in seven games. 


2 Seeded Celtics VS 7/8 Play-In Winner

Matt: It’s very likely the Celtics will be playing the Nets in the first round. It may not seem like the best thing to face the Nets in the first round, however, I think it’s a good thing for the Celtics. The Celtics decided to not rest anyone and secure the second seed, and with the way they are playing now, I think they can beat this Nets team. They have the best defense in the NBA and a Defensive Player of the Year Candidate in Marcus Smart, and even though Robert Williams most likely won’t play in the first round series I think the Celtics are going to win this series in six games if they face the Nets, and in five games if they face the Cavaliers. 

Rahim: I said from the start that the Celtics should try to avoid being the second seed. The Nets losing Durant and Kyrie for a portion of the season caused them to drop a few seeds, but they are definitely a top-five seed caliber team. The Celtics showed a lot of promise this year, with Jayson Tatum playing like a superstar and Marcus Smart playing like a defensive player of the year. On the off chance that Robert Williams returns in game five, and the Celtics have the series tied, then they can run away with it. If that isn’t the case, it is a toss-up in game seven. 


It is going to be a very interesting playoffs for the NBA this year, and it is very hard to predict who will make the finals. The play-in tournament starts tonight and will determine who gets the seventh and eighth seeds in each conference.