The 2022 NBA Playoffs are rapidly approaching and there are several amazing matchups to watch out for. Here, I will be predicting the winner of each series in the first round. There will be an in-depth breakdown of each team, displaying their strengths and weaknesses. The first round is stacked with must-see television. Up first, the Brooklyn Nets will be taking on the scorching hot Boston Celtics. Then, the Minnesota Timberwolves take on the No.2 seed, Memphis Grizzlies. The reigning finals MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the Milwaukee Bucks will take on the Chicago Bulls. The Golden State Warriors face the Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks play the Utah Jazz and the Philadelphia 76ers face the Toronto Raptors.
While still being determined, the Phoenix Suns will either play the New Orleans Pelicans or the Los Angelos Clippers. Same for the Miami Heat, they find out later this evening whether they play the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Atlanta Hawks.
2022 NBA Playoffs Predictions
Utah Jazz vs. Dallas Mavericks (4-2 Mavericks)
The Dallas Mavericks easily have the best individual player throughout the entirety of the series. However, star guard Luka Doncic did suffer an injury that may affect his minutes and his effectiveness as the series progresses. While the Mavericks are currently without their best player, their team overall isn’t as well put as the Jazz. In fact, the Jazz contains one of the deadliest sixth men in the NBA, Jordan Clarkson. From top to bottom, I believe the Utah Jazz will give the Mavericks tons of matchup issues and star SG Donovan Mitchell is dominant enough to alter an entire game when he’s locked in.
Not only is the roster an issue for Dallas but also the level of coaching. Jazz head coach Quinn Snyder is far more accomplished as a coach than Jason Kidd. Kidd has proven to be a respectful coach in the NBA; however, the Mavs have found it hard getting over that hump and I don’t believe this is the year they do so either. I give the Jazz an upper hand, and have them taking the entire series in six games.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Memphis Grizzlies (4-3 Timberwolves)
While many believe that this series will be lopsided, the Timberwolves and Grizzlies have faced off three times this season, yet, the Timberwolves have won two of those matchups. While the Grizzlies have proven that they are a legitimate contender this year to get to the finals, there are holes in their armor. The Grizzlies have a pretty impressive roster. In fact, they’ve managed to go 20-5 without star player Ja Morant, according to Statmuse. However, they must now deal with star center Karl-Anthony Towns and All-Star D’Angelo Russell.
These rosters match up well against one another and both teams seem to be playing hungry. However, one team has a bit more to prove than the other and I believe that will play into their efforts on the court.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics (5-1 Nets)
The Brooklyn Nets are far superior to the Boston Celtics in pure talent. They possibly have the most electrifying and efficient duo of all time. While Boston’s star Jayson Tatum is very talented and had a career season, the experience he lacks is where this series may get away from Boston. The Celtics do have better coaching which can play an effect, as well. In order for the Celtics to secure this series, they will have to win at home because it will be nearly impossible to go into the Barclays and win on the road.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls (4-0 Bucks)
The Milwaukee Bucks just favorably match up well against the small Chicago Bulls lineup. The Bucks will overpower and annihilate the growing and exciting Bulls team. Their coaching is superior, players are superior, and barring any big injuries there shouldn’t be a reason the Bucks lose a game to the Bulls.
Giannis is so overbearing and unstoppable that he may bully his way to victory. This will leave the Bulls to continue building and bringing in talent such as DeMar DeRozan caliber players.
Golden State Warriors vs. Denver Nuggets (5-1 Warriors)
Unfortunately, the Nuggets are undermanned for a fully healthy loaded Warriors squad. As talented and dominant as Nikola Jokic is, it may not be enough to overcome Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Jordan Poole. The Warriors have improved as the year has progressed whereas the Nuggets have barely gotten by for the majority of the 2022 season.
The coaching experience will also play a factor that favors Golden State, as well.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors (4-3 76ers)
I believe Toronto is one of the hardest places to play in the country. Not to mention, due to their vaccination restrictions the 76ers best defender, Matisse Thybulle, won’t be able to play. This will force some of their other star players to step up. Another reason is, I doubt the 76ers are simply because of James Harden. He’s struggled all year and has historically underachieved in the playoffs. While things may be different, I do believe Harden will fall short and it will be strictly on Joel Embid to carry the 76ers to the promised land.
The only reason I believe the 76ers will barely come out of this first round is because of the home-field advantage. The 76ers won’t win any games on the road; however, the Raptors won’t either. NBA playoffs rules are set up where the lower seed plays at the opposing team’s home twice. Then, the higher seed will go to the opposing team’s home twice. If the series is not decided by then, the teams will play one more home game each unless it reaches game seven. Ultimately, game seven will go back to the higher seed’s home, favoring the 76ers in this series.