Round 1 Playoff Predictions
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Round 1 Playoff Predictions

Here I take a look into the first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs and make my predictions on how each series will play out.

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Round 1 Playoff Predictions

With the play-in tournament completed, we now advance to the first round of the NBA Playoffs. To recap the play-in tournament, in the Eastern Conference the Brooklyn Nets secured the 7th seed, and the Atlanta Hawks secured the 8thseed. In the Western Conference, the Minnesota Timberwolves secured the 7th seed, and the New Orleans Pelicans secured the 8th seed. Now the first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs begins.

Let’s start in the Western Conference with the number 1 seed in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns. The Suns get the matchup with the 8th seed, the New Orleans Pelicans. The window for the Suns to win is right now. Chris Paul turns 37 in a few weeks and DeAndre Ayton is looking to get a major pay increase. Maybe worst of all, the Nuggets and the Clippers are looking to get even better for next season. Their time is now, they have the best record in the NBA and a chip on their shoulder after losing last years Finals. It's time for them to make their own destiny or be forgotten in it. As for the Pelicans, they made a great effort making it to the playoffs without Zion Williamson. Zion is just now getting into 5v5’s at practice, so don’t expect the Pels to rush him back for this year. Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum have been great in his absence. But is it enough? Probably not. Phoenix takes this series.

Next, we have the 2nd seed Memphis Grizzlies vs the 7th seed Minnesota Timberwolves. The Grizzlies posted the second-best record in the NBA this season. Ja Morant was electric and recorded over 16 points per game in the paint. That number has only been topped 12 times in the last 26 years. Eight times by Shaquille O’Neil, three times by Giannis Antetokounmpo, and once by Zion Williamson. Notice how he is the only guard on that list. If Ja can continue to keep the ball moving at a fast pace, then the Grizzlies should come out on top. For the Timberwolves, the main keys for them are Karl Anthony-Towns dominating the paint and maybe the effect of Patrick Beverly. Patrick Beverly has been great on the defensive end lately. If he can help keep Morant from getting to his pace, they can disrupt the offense of the Grizzlies. I think that the Timberwolves upset the Grizzlies.

This series here is the one that is most affected by the injury bug. The 3rd seed Golden State Warriors vs the 6thseed Denver Nuggets. The Warriors may be without Steph Curry as he is currently listed as “probable” for Game 1. If he is healthy, the Warriors have the best chance of winning the series. Luckily for the Warriors, they aren’t the only ones with injuries. The Nuggets are without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. for the entire playoffs. Even though Jordan Poole has been great in his absence, Curry being out may level the playing field especially with the small sized Warriors against Jokic. As for the Nuggets you have Nikola Jokic is looking to win the MVP award again. He has been great this year and is an issue for any team when he is on the floor. With Murray and Porter Jr. out, it is up to him to take control. Warriors still take the series if Curry is out one or two games.

Lastly in the Western Conference we have the 4th seed Dallas Mavericks vs the 5th seed Utah Jazz. For the Mavs, Luka needs to be healthy to help run this offense, they can be difficult to contain when Luka is playing his best. He doesn’t have a set timetable to return and they will not rush him back into the series. For the Jazz, this could be a make it or break it year for them. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are in the 5th year of their dynamic duo. Utah has a new owner in Ryan Smith and new head of basketball operations in Danny Ainge, who has history of making big trades. These guys may look to make a change if they can’t make a serious run in this playoff. If Luka doesn’t get healthy or gets reinjured, look for the Jazz to push the Mavs and beat them. If Luka does get healthy, the Mavs will take the series.

Now we move on to the Eastern Conference, starting with its 1st seed the Miami Heat vs the 8th seed Atlanta Hawks. The Heat are arguably the deepest team in the playoffs. That may not matter as much in the later rounds or the later games of the series, but it does matter in the beginning of the first round. They are experienced and in need of redemption after being swept last year and losing in the Finals the year before that. The Hawks have a tough road ahead of them. Trae Young has shown he is a top tier point guard in the league this year but is it enough to get past Miami. The Heat are a well experienced team that is determined to make quick work of them. Heat take this series

Next is arguably the most intriguing series in the first round. The 2nd seed Boston Celtics and the 7th seed Brooklyn Nets. Nobody would be surprised to see either one of these two teams represent the East in the NBA Finals. Tatum vs KD, Kyrie vs the defensive-minded backcourt of the Celtics. This one is a series for the books. For the Celtics, they need to work together at defending Kyrie and hope that Tatum can slow Durant down. Neither one of those guys will be stopped, but Boston’s defense can get them through the series. For the Nets, the most star power comes with the most pressure to win. Don’t let their record or seed fool you, this is one of the most star-studded teams in the entire league. They have the motivation and skill to win the NBA Finals, but it is up to them to get there and take it. This obviously is a hard one to pick, but I believe the Nets will come out on top. Even though it is seed 2 and seed 7, I don’t see this as an upset. The Nets are far more experienced and the Celtics just haven’t been able to make it there with the same core roster.

The 3rd seed of the East is the Milwaukee Bucks who face against the 6th seed Chicago Bulls. For the Bucks, defense is key. Compared to last year they aren’t as effective on defense and that’s why they are the 3rd seed. We know Giannis and Middleton will get their buckets, but can Brooke Lopez handle the paint. The Bucks give up a good number of three-point shots, but with Lonzo Ball out for the Bulls they won’t be able to spread the floor as much. For the Bulls, their key is to spread out the floor. One person that can change that is Nikola Vucevic. He hasn’t shot well this season but if he can find a way to make shots, he will force Brooke Lopez out to defend him. That will open the floor for the Bulls athletes to drive to the rim and finish. I still think the Bucks pull this series out and begin their run for the title.

Finally, the 4th seed Philadelphia 76ers vs the 5th seed Toronto Raptors. The key for the 76ers is James Harden. This duo with Joel Embiid has a lot to prove. We know that MVP candidate, Joel Embiid, is going to go to work in any series he faces. But James Harden hasn’t been the incredible James Harden on a consistent basis. He has the most to prove out of any individual in this year’s playoffs and will be the difference maker in this series. As for the Raptors, it is their lengthy personal on defense that holds their fate. Can the Raptors take advantage of Hardens struggles and keep Embiid at bay as much as possible? The 76ers still take this series and I think we start to see a dominant James Harden.

That’s it for the first round of the playoffs. There are many players who are looking to prove themselves and others who have grudges to take care of. From the Nets 7th seed star power, to the young stars looking to make a name for themselves in the postseason. There is one thing for sure, this first round is going to be very exciting and it will set up and even better second round.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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