Dutch Lion’s 2023 NBA Playoffs Preview

Dutch Lion’s 2023 NBA Playoffs Preview

Are you ready to run a marathon? Basketball fans of all ages started the marathon on Saturday as the 2023 NBA Playoffs began. The NBA Playoffs seem to take forever. It’s a two month sprint from mid-April (First Round starts April 15) to mid-June (NBA Finals Games 4-7 are scheduled for June 9-18). So sit back, relax, and strap it down.

Eastern Conference Seeds

  1. Milwaukee Bucks (58-24) (Team NET Rating: 5th) – NET Rating is a team’s Points Per 100 Possessions
  2. Boston Celtics (57-25) (NET Rating: 1st)
  3. Philadelphia 76ers (54-28) (NET Rating: 3rd)
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31) (NET Rating: 2nd)
  5. New York Knicks (47-35) (NET Rating: 7th)
  6. Brooklyn Nets (45-37) (NET Rating: 14th)
  7. Atlanta Hawks (41-41) (NET Rating: 19th)
  8. Miami Heat (44-38) (NET Rating: 21st)

Eastern Conference First Round

#1 Milwaukee vs #8 Miami – The Bucks are so good. Even without several of their players, they seem to play solid basketball. Their depth is better than other teams, and nobody can guard Giannis Antetokounmpo. PICK: Milwaukee in five

#2 Boston vs #7 Atlanta – Boston is on a mission to return to the Finals. PICK: Boston in five

#3 Philadelphia vs #6 Brooklyn – Brooklyn doesn’t seem very good anymore without any of their superstars. In fact, they might be a better overall team without Durant, Irving, and Harden, but they won’t win a series. Watch out for Mikal Bridges. He’s a stud. PICK: Philadelphia in five

#4 Cleveland vs #5 New York – This is an excellent first round matchup. Hopefully we get at least one first round series worth watching. I can’t wait to see point guards Donovan Mitchell and Jalen Brunson square off. Is Julius Randle healthy? Is R.J. Barrett healthy? Will Brunson’s foot and hand injuries be a detriment? I think the Knicks can win this series. Let’s go with New York. PICK: New York in six

Eastern Conference Semifinals

#1 Milwaukee vs #5 New York – It’s probably asking too much for the Knicks to beat the Bucks. Unless Giannis is injured, I’m taking the Bucks. PICK: Milwaukee in six

#2 Boston vs #3 Philadelphia – This is a long-standing rivalry in the NBA. Way back in the 80s these franchises faced each other in the Eastern Conference Finals four times (1980, ’81, ’82, and ’85). Each team won twice. In ’85 it was Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, “D.J.” Dennis Johnson, and Danny Ainge vs Moses Malone, “Dr. J.” Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney, and Charles Barkley. Incredible history here. If Boston faces Philadelphia again for the third time in the recent era (2018, ’20), they’ll need to work hard to send Philly packing. Joel Embiid had an MVP type season and we think he’ll get it done with James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and P.J. Tucker. PICK: Philadelphia in 7

Eastern Conference Finals

#1 Milwaukee vs #3 Philadelphia – It would be really fun to see Embiid face Antetokounmpo. Under Coach Doc Rivers, we think this is Philly’s year. PICK: Philadelphia in 7

Western Conference Seeds

  1. Denver Nuggets (53-29) (NET Rating: 6th)
  2. Memphis Grizzlies (51-31) (NET: 4th)
  3. Sacramento Kings (48-34) (NET: 8th)
  4. Phoenix Suns (45-37) (NET: 9th)
  5. Los Angeles Clippers (44-38) (NET: 17th)
  6. Golden State Warriors (44-38) (NET: 11th)
  7. Los Angeles Lakers (43-39) (NET: 16th)
  8. Minnesota (NET: 18th)

Western Conference First Round

#1 Denver vs #8 Minnesota – PICK: Denver in a 4 game sweep

#2 Memphis vs #7 L.A. Lakers – PICK: Memphis in 6

#3 Sacramento vs #6 Golden State – This series is fantastic. It’s northern California for the win! Can the Kings knock of the defending champs? Will Sacramento’s Head Coach Mike Brown win NBA Coach of the Year? This is going to be some really exciting basketball. PICK: Sacramento in 7

#4 Phoenix vs #5 L.A. Clippers – Another series with the makings of edge-of-your-seat basketball could be this Suns vs Clippers series. This 4 vs 5 matchup features huge NBA stars. Now that Phoenix acquired Kevin Durant, they can pair him with both big and small lineups. Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and DeAndre Ayton will help Durant overcome Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers. PICK: Phoenix in 6

Western Conference Semifinals

#1 Denver vs #4 Phoenix – Oh wow, this series sounds fantastic! Denver was the best team out west all season. Yet, Phoenix looks so hard to beat… on paper. Can Durant and the Suns get in mid-season form despite his short time in the Valley of the Sun? Can anyone stop reigning two-time MVP Nikola Jokic? Don’t forget about Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon. PICK: Phoenix in 7

#2 Memphis vs #3 Sacramento – This matchup features two of the most exciting young guards in the world, Ja Morant and DeAaron Fox. Suddenly Sacramento has an enviable roster with Fox, Harrison Barnes, Domantas Sabonis, Malik Monk, and Kevin Huerter. “Light the Beam!” PICK: Sacramento in 6

Western Conference Finals

#4 Phoenix vs #3 Sacramento – This is where Sacramento’s feel-good story will end. Phoenix will be rolling by the Western Finals. PICK: Phoenix in 5

2023 NBA Finals

Philadelphia 76ers vs Phoenix Suns

I think we predicted this same NBA Finals matchup last year. If we did, we were wrong. It ended up being Boston and Golden State with the Warriors winning their fourth title over the last eight years. That’s four rings for Steph Curry and company (2015, ’17, ’18, ’22). But now it’s time for a new champion. The Phoenix Suns and the Philadelphia 76ers will fight it out for NBA supremacy.

The matchups will feature: James Harden vs Chris Paul at PG, Tyrese Maxey vs Devin Booker at SG, Tobias Harris vs Torrey Craig at SF, P.J. Tucker vs Kevin Durant at PF, and Joel Embiid vs DeAndre Ayton at C. Uh, yeah, sign me up!

I could see this series going either way. There are great players all over the floor. I think this would end a fine NBA season. It would be nice to have a new champion. Will Harden or Paul finally get his first World Championship ring? It’s almost too good of a storyline.

PICK: Phoenix Suns in 7 games


  1. Reid, if our Sixers get to the Finals I will be quite pleased indeed. I don’t expect them to win it all, but with injuries always lying in wait maybe we’ll have some good luck health-wise this post-season while Boston and Milwaukee won’t . I think we need one of their stars to get dinged up a bit in order to beat them back-to-back. The road to the Finals won’t be easy at all for Philly but it can be done!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This format is a great way to crown a true Champion. However, I don’t like the new “play-in” games. Why extend to the 10th best regular season team in each conference? The top 8 is enough. Best-of-7 usually creates the best team winning.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes. How about giving the top 4 teams the benefit of all home games in that First Round? That would entice teams to try harder in the regular season. Take the Golden State Warriors. They “earned” the 6th seed but would have tried harder if they knew they had to play all 7 games at Sacramento.


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