NBA Playoffs 2022 Preview
The NBA Playoffs are here. Well, kinda. They are almost here, technically, because as of writing this, they are in the Play-In Tournament. Which, as we were reminded about 15 times (and I 100% think this was sports betting related) that whoever loses in the Play-In Tournament becomes the 9 and 10 seed which means they DO NOT make the playoffs. So, if you're holding a Cavs ticket and they lose their next game, they did not make the playoffs. Anyway, I'm going to go over a few teams in general that I feel have potential to make the NBA Finals and win. If you're looking for a free play, follow me @FuturePrez2024 on Twitter. And, if you want all the playoff plays, including any futures (1 MAX and 1 multi-unit already sent out), buy the package.
Suns, Bucks, Heat
In my opinion, those are the three best teams in the NBA right now. The Suns are easily the best team - they had the best record, they have a deep team, they have a superstar, and a hall-of-famer leading the way. Chris Paul always seems to have something go wrong with him in the playoffs so I won't be putting money on them to win the Finals currently. The Bucks are the defending champion and have arguably the hardest-to-defend player in the league in Giannis. I do think they took a lot of games off this past season, but they've shown they can turn it on when needed. The thing is if Giannis gets to the Finals again, and Middleton gets hot, I'm not sure a team in the league can beat them, because for four out of seven games, Giannis could absolutely crush the competition. Miami has been my favorite team all year. Aside from Duncan Robinson, their defensive starters are amazing. If they put (a healthy) Oladipo in with Butler, Bam, Tucker, and Lowry, that is probably the best defensive lineup in basketball and could prove a nightmare to stop. That doesn't even mention Tyler Herro who has blossomed this year. I expect it to be the Bucks vs. Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals which is +295 right now.
Questions, but Could Win
Nets, Warriors, Celtics, Grizzlies
Can this team stop anyone on defense? Will their role players do enough to allow their superstars to get to the next round? Those are questions the Nets need to answer. Even against Cleveland, there were some moments of concern there. They will struggle to score and while Durant and Irving are elite players, it will be hard for just the two of them to win an entire series without the help of Seth Curry, Patty Mills, and a host of others.
Will Steph come back fully healthy? Is Klay going to be the Klay of old, or the guy that missed two years of basketball? Obviously, the Warriors here. If Steph is not 100% healthy, they have no shot. If he is healthy, the defense they had early in the season will be key. Can they beat any team in one game, absolutely. Can they beat the Suns, Bucks, Heat, and even Nets in four games? I really don't think so.
Is their defense sustainable? Have the two J's taken the leap to superstardom? If the Celtics beat the Nets, you'll know that Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown have arrived completely. They can beat the Nets, it is very possible. They've been one of the best teams in the league since January and are are going to be ready for the task. But, you have a first-year coach taking over, and the Celtics are experienced, but young. I'm staying away from the series completely.
Do they have another gear? Can Ja Morant survive without injury for the entire playoffs? I watched the Bulls with Derrick Rose for years. When Thibs was the coach, he pushed them every single game (same as he does now with the Knicks). When the playoffs came, there was no next level, or second gear to get to, they simply played as hard as possible every game and so other teams saw 82 games of what they have and what they do. My concern is that the Grizzlies, a young team, are doing the same thing. Rose and Morant are very similar in my opinion. He looks like he could be injured on any play that he goes to the basket. Hopefully, he can stay healthy because I love this Grizzlies team and think they could make a nice run. Those are just two very big questions.
I'm not going to spend a lot of time on the rest of these teams, but the Raptors and Mavericks both have an outside chance of making a decent run and even title shot. For the Raptors, they have a good coach, are five deep in their rotation, have that Canadian advantage of COVID restrictions so Thybille and Irving both cannot play there - I'm sure others too, and they are a hustling team. I don't think it is likely either of these teams wins more than one series, but I wouldn't be shocked. The Mavericks have Luka (if he is healthy) and they pretty much built their team to play in playoff games. Slow pace, half-court sets, a limited but solid rotation. This is their best chance, and roster, since Luka joined.
The Bulls fell apart. The Nuggets don't have enough to get through the West. The Jazz don't look like they want to play together anymore. The 76ers are going to struggle and cannot beat the upper three teams in a seven-game series. I don't think they can even beat the Raptors. The other teams are likely to lose in the first round.
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