Dutch Lion’s 2022 NBA Playoffs Preview
For the first time since 2017, the Chicago Bulls are back in the NBA Playoffs. That’s great news for Chicago locals and Bulls fans everywhere. However, the team hasn’t been playing well for two months now, and is “zero for all of ’em” in matchups against other top teams this season. Can Coach Billy Donovan turn his team around?
It’s unlikely Chicago makes waves in the postseason because the 6th seeded Bulls got a brutal first round matchup against the defending World Champion Milwaukee Bucks. The Bulls don’t match up well against the Bucks. Does anyone?
Eastern Conference Seeds
- Miami Heat (53-29)
- Boston Celtics (51-31)
- Milwaukee Bucks (51-31)
- Philadelphia 76ers (51-31)
- Toronto Raptors (48-34)
- Chicago Bulls (46-36)
- Brooklyn Nets (44-38)
- Atlanta Hawks (43-39)
Eastern Conference First Round
#1 Miami vs #8 Atlanta – Miami is really good. They play well as a team. They have skill and toughness. This is a no-brainer prediction. PICK: Miami in a four game sweep
#2 Boston vs #7 Brooklyn – An excellent first round matchup in the East features the historically fantastic Boston Celtics hosting the Brooklyn Nets. I don’t know about you, but I forgot how awesome Kyrie Irving is. Unfortunately there’s always so much drama with him. From his “the Earth is flat” theory to his vaccine refusal, Irving is probably more famous for his fantastic Nike shoes than he is for his basketball game. That’s too bad because the dude can ball. Along with Kevin Durant, the Nets have a chance to upset the Celtics. However, Boston has too many weapons, too many good defenders, and they have have home court advantage. PICK: Boston in seven games
#3 Milwaukee vs #6 Chicago – The Bulls don’t match up well against Milwaukee and are new to the playoffs, outside of DeMar DeRozan, so “non”-experience will be a factor. Let’s be honest, the way Chicago has played for over two months now does not inspire confidence. The Bulls will be lucky to win one game in this series. I don’t feel like the Bulls are close to the way they were earlier in the season when Lonzo Ball was playing. He’s been out for a long time now with a knee injury and Chicago never recovered. Don’t judge the Bulls on the end of this season. If/when Ball returns (next year), that will be the real Chicago squad. For now, take comfort in the fact Billy Donovan steered this team into the playoffs at all. PICK: Milwaukee in five games
#4 Philadelphia vs #5 Toronto – The 76ers are one of the premier teams in the East, along with the other top four seeds. Toronto is good but not good enough to advance. Philly, with Embiid and Harden, is on a mission. PICK: Philadelphia in six games
Eastern Conference Semifinals
#1 Miami vs #4 Philadelphia – This should be an excellent series. I’d love to see the Heat take on the 76ers here in the Eastern semis. The Heat earned the #1 seed but they only finished two games better in the standings over all of the other three top seeds that earned home-court advantage in the first round. Therefore, the seeds are almost meaningless this season EXCEPT for the fact Miami and Boston will get home-court should they win their first round series. I really don’t see any upsets in the first round. Therefore, the Eastern Playoffs really begin here in the Semis. I could see any of the top four teams winning the East. In this series, I foresee Joel Embiid and James Harden getting in a rhythm and ousting Miami. Don’t forget about Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey. PICK: Philadelphia in seven games
#2 Boston vs #3 Milwaukee – This series smells of a rivalry. Don’t you think Celtics/Bucks is becoming a rivalry? It sure seems like it. I could be wrong. I would love to see these two go at it again. Overall, I just think Milwaukee is better. I would have to side with Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez, and their bench in a seven game series. Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, and Robert Williams are all good defenders. The Bucks have too much firepower with their ‘drive and dish’ game when Giannis either dunks or passes out to Middleton or Lopez for threes. PICK: Milwaukee in six games
Eastern Conference Finals
#3 Milwaukee vs #4 Philadelphia – For some reason this matchup makes me think of 1980s basketball. Remember Moses Malone, Alvin Robertson, Maurice Cheeks, and Paul Mokeski? How about “Dr. J” Julius Erving, Andrew Toney, Terry Cummings, Paul Pressey, Ricky Pierce, Randy Breuer, and Sidney Moncrief? Darryl “Chocolate Thunder” Dawkins? Don’t forget about “The Round Mound of Rebound” Charles Barkley. Any readers old enough to remember those dudes? I mean, we’re talking not just 1980s but maybe even early 80’s basketball superstars. Anyway, if we get Bucks/76ers in an Eastern Finals, there will be hype. You have MVP Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo going up against the two-headed monster of Embiid and “The Beard” Harden. PICK: Philadelphia in seven games
Western Conference Seeds
- Phoenix Suns (64-18)
- Memphis Grizzlies (56-26)
- Golden State Warriors (53-29)
- Dallas Mavericks (52-30)
- Utah Jazz (49-33)
- Denver Nuggets (48-34)
- Minnesota Timberwolves (46-36)
- New Orleans Pelicans (36-46)
Western Conference First Round
#1 Phoenix vs #8 New Orleans – Phoenix is an awesome team. New Orleans (without Zion Williamson) just isn’t good enough to compete. Watch for the Pelicans young Head Coach Willie Green. He’s a 40-year-old rookie head coach making a name for himself. PICK: Phoenix in a four game sweep
#2 Memphis vs #7 Minnesota – Memphis is a really good, under-the-radar team. Everyone knows about Ja Morant by now (right?), but not many know their other stars much less the Grizzlies’ other contributors. Dillon Brooks, Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Steven Adams round out the starting five. Their bench consists of De’Anthony Melton, Ziaire Williams, Kyle Anderson, Tyus Jones, and Brandon Clarke. Head Coach Taylor Jenkins often plays ten or more players. With Ja Morant becoming a superstar, the Grizzlies can do anything. The sky is the limit. However, Minnesota is a very good #7 seed. The Timberwolves could possibly upset the Griz, which seems ridiculous. With Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and Patrick Beverley leading the way, you never know. I’m taking Memphis but this might be a close series. PICK: Memphis in six games
#3 Golden State vs #6 Denver – Golden State will roll in this series. I know Denver has MVP candidate Nikola Jokic, but the Warriors are just too good. They really seemed to get it all going once again this year. Now that they have Klay Thompson healthy, as well as the greatest shooter of all-time in Steph Curry (apologies to Calvin Murphy), the Warriors are a contender for the NBA championship again. They haven’t won it all since 2018 because Thompson was out for two and half years with a torn ACL (suffered in the ’19 NBA Finals) and a torn Achilles (pickup game in Summer/Fall ’20). Plus, they had to rebuild a little bit once Durant moved on. Don’t forget about Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, and Jordan Poole. Poole is becoming a star. The Warriors will be tough to beat. PICK: Golden State in five games
#4 Dallas vs #5 Utah – This has the potential to be the best first round series in this year’s Playoffs. Dallas can be fantastic at times. Utah has been amazing at times. What happens when they clash? First of all, Dallas needs Luka Doncic. It seems like their young superstar gets hurt at the most inopportune times in his short career. Once again, he got hurt on the last day of the regular season. If you’re a Mavs diehard, you’re thinking “Oh brother, here we go again”. But if he’s healthy, you might think “Here we go again! (as in 2011)”. As you probably know, we love Jalen Brunson around these parts. If Luka is hurt, Jalen has a chance to be the leading star for the Mavericks. (UPDATE: Jalen put in a career-high 41 points in Game 2 as we were trending toward press time. JB will get a huge contract this offseason to lead an up and coming young team. Possible 4 years/$80 million? Maybe the Knicks?) However, they probably can’t win the series without Doncic. As for Utah, how about Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and their system? Head Coach Quin Snyder is a solid coach. PICK: Dallas in seven wonderful games – as long as Luka plays; if no Luka, we say Utah, Utah!
Western Conference Semifinals
#1 Phoenix vs #4 Dallas – “The Nash vs Kidd Battle” makes for a good series. Remember how both Jason Kidd and Steve Nash played for both of these franchises? We’re talking about two of the greatest point guards in NBA history and they both played for both teams. Kidd was drafted 2nd overall by Dallas in 1994. He served two stints with the team as a player (’94-’96 and ’08-’12). Kidd also played for the Suns from ’96-’01. Steve Nash was drafted 15th overall by the Suns and played with Phoenix over two stints (’96-98 and ’04-’12). In between those stints, he played for the Mavericks from ’98-’04. It seems kinda weird, right? Does everyone follow me here?… because I can’t keep it straight. This bizarre scenario (if compared to the NFL) would be like like Tom Brady and Dan Marino playing for both New England and Miami, but both QB’s having two stints with at least one of those franchises, you know what I mean? Or maybe John Elway and Joe Montana playing for both San Francisco and Denver, multiple times. Are these strange comps? Probably, but just roll with it. Who played for Dallas first? Who played for Phoenix first? I can’t remember and I just researched and wrote it above. I bet I’m not the only one who forgets these details. I certainly recall Nash’s career (second time) with the Suns. They were incredible! They often threatened Kobe/Shaq’s Lakers and Tim Duncan’s Spurs for Western Conference championships but always fell a little short. One time the Suns got hosed was in the 2007 Western Semifinals when an already injured Amare Stoudamire (microfracture surgery on both knees, don’t get me started on that disastrous surgeon’s technique) was ejected in Game 4 for leaving the bench after the Spurs Robert Horry pushed Nash into the scorer’s table. Horry was suspended for two games but so were Stoudamire and Boris Diaw. Both Suns were suspended one game each for ….. leaving the bench. Of course, some note that Tim Duncan and Bruce Bowen of the Spurs left the bench too but were NOT suspended. That was bogus for Phoenix – and bad luck. Without Amare and Diaw, they lost the next two games which ended the series in favor of the Spurs, 4-2. San Antonio went on to win their 4th NBA championship, while Phoenix never won the Title and still haven’t won it all. PICK: Phoenix in six games
#2 Memphis vs #3 Golden State – This series has great potential too. Can Memphis keep up with Golden State? Who would wow us more, Steph Curry or Ja Morant? PICK: Golden State in six games
Western Conference Finals
#1 Phoenix vs #3 Golden State – Oh my lordy, who wants to see Phoenix vs Golden State! If these teams play in the Western Conference Finals, we could have an all-time great series. The big ifs are…. can Chris Paul control the tempo? Can Klay Thompson regain his pre-injury form? Can DeAndre Ayton dominate the paint? All-Defensive team candidate Mikal Bridges will be tough on the Warriors shooters. I foresee Phoenix winning this series but in an all-out shootout. PICK: Phoenix in seven games
2022 NBA Finals
Phoenix Suns vs Philadelphia 76ers – The Suns vs the 76ers would be like the “Charles Barkley Bowl”. Ayton going up against Embiid would be interesting. Harden versus Paul would be intriguing. What about the supporting cast? Danny Green vs Devin Booker, Tyrese Maxey vs Mikal Bridges, and Tobias Harris vs Jae Crowder. Overall, I think Phoenix is both better and more experienced. I believe this is their year. They were so close last year, going up 2-0 on the Bucks in the NBA Finals before losing four straight. This time they’ll close the deal. PICK: Phoenix in six games
So that’s it. We’re selecting the Phoenix Suns as our 2022 NBA Champions. After correctly predicting the Georgia Bulldogs, Los Angeles Rams, and even the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as our 2021 football season champs, we’re definitely on a roll. Pick Phoenix with confidence. If you feel like placing some money on Phoenix, please use the official sportsbook of Dutch Lion Sports, BetUS. Click here to get a discount with your first deposit.
Really good preview, Reid! I also have the Suns winning it, but who knows now. It’s amazing what a few injuries can do to throw everything off. With Booker and Middleton out, I’m not so convinced that the Suns and Bucks get out of the first round which would be shocking. I also didn’t expect the Mavericks to be doing this well without Luka but Brunson has really stepped up. It’s making me realize that maybe Utah isn’t as good as I always thought.
I know right! The minute I posted this I was besieged with worry about my selections, all because of injuries. Middleton, Booker, Doncic, etc. I love Brunson and respect his game so much. Remember that know him from high school. It was weird knowing a high school sophomore that you just knew would be a successful pro one day. Now he’s gonna become an All-star if he goes to the right team in the right situation. Thanks for the comments.
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