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The 2022 NBA Playoff Predictions – First Round

Eastern Conference

1 Miami Heat v 8 Atlanta Hawks

Troy Goostrey: The worst option Miami could have expected as the 8 seed given the Hawks we’re a conference finalist last season.  However Miami are a #1 seed for a reason and their depth, experience and ability to exploit Young on defence will win out. Heat in 5
David Ashman: As much as Atlanta have that run and gun team, Miami has the defence to shut down the Hawks. Trae will get his shots but he can’t do it all. Unless Gallinaaaaari has a blinder from behind the arc, expect Jimmy and Bam to lock down the Hawks and get the win. Heat in 5
Jarrod Cotton: The Hawks are a fast paced entertaining team but the Heat play defence. Atlanta will steal one off a hot shooting night but they’ll lose one after having a hot shooting night. Heat in 5
Jesse Cotton: Are Atlanta about to make another run at a Conference Finals? No. They are not. Charlotte’s porous defense and Trae finding himself at the top of the key with Markkanen on him 8 too many times made them look good in the play-in games. They’ll take a couple of games, but the only way they take this series is if Butler and Spoelstra get in an actual on-court fight which clears the Miami bench and they all get suspended. Heat in 6
"I think the Hawks will sweep this" - Kevin Willis
"What chu talkin bout Willis?" - Steve Smith

2 Boston Celtics v 7 Brooklyn Nets

Troy Goostrey: Ok so maybe Brooklyn is the worst option from the play-in series.  And Boston cops them!  Still, there hasn’t been a team better performed in the latter part of the season than the Celtics.  They are playing great team basketball and just how does Brooklyn run both Kyrie and Seth out there at the same time?  Jaylen Brown will have a field day. Tough series, Celtics in 7
David Ashman: Great play-off series to unfold here. Lots of what ifs with Simmons who could bring some much needed defence to the Nets with their offense only attitude. If Sooky Simmo plays in the series, Nets win. But the Celtics have Tatum who is looking to go one better this year and get the Celts to the East Conf Finals. Hopefully it goes the Celtics way. With the KD and Kyrie bromance over, they sook in the corner and jump on Twitter to have another cyber cry. Celtics in 7
Jarrod Cotton: The Nets have the star power in Durant, Irving and savvy veterans in Mills, Aldridge and no shows in Simmons but I think the Celtics have a more organic total team that maybe ready to advance. Look for Tatum to be in the MVP conversation from now on. Celtics in 7
Jesse Cotton: KD can get 40 a night if he wants, but with enough weapons to make life tough for Kyrie in Smart, White and even Brown, maybe KD’s efforts won’t be enough. I don’t see the Nets getting much else outside of those two guys. The Celtics on the other hand pose a matchup nightmare for the Nets, with Brown taking advantage of whichever second guard the Nets put out there, and Tatum either cooking Bruce Brown or tiring out KD. Maybe the Nets get up if KD wears smaller shoes, but I don’t see it. Celtics in 7
"I need a wheelchair" - Paul Pierce
"You don't need no muthaf**kin wheelchair you f**king punk-a** b*tch" - Kevin Garnett

3 Milwaukee Bucks v 6 Chicago Bulls

Troy Goostrey: Bucks have gone under the radar this season, just going about their ways and cruising to the playoffs.  Chicago were on fire early and if they can recapture that form where DeRozan was scoring like MJ, they could be a very dangerous team for the Bucks.  The underrated Vuc, the sometimes overrated LaVine, the forgotten brother Lonzo – this is a quality Bulls outfit.  Giannis, Jrue and Kris and their crew get the win though, Bucks in 6
David Ashman: A lot to like with the Bulls this year, DeRozan firing on all cylinders with clutch shot after clutch shot. Vucevic is an under-rated, solid big man. Lavine playing at another level. If the Bulls had Ball for the play-offs, I would have a Bulls win. However there’s something about Giannis that tells me they’re ready to go back to back and he will take them to the finals again. Another great series (hopefully). Bucks in 7
Jarrod Cotton: The defending champions will treat this as a warm up to their title defence. Unfortunately the Bulls needed their full squad to make this series competitive. Chicago steals a game on their home court, but good to see them back in the playoffs though. Bucks in 5
Jesse Cotton: The Bulls finished the season 7-15, which is only better than 5 NBA team records (Indiana, Detroit, Orlando, Houston, OKC). DeRozan is not a noted playoff performer, and LaVine has never even been there. Vucevic will slow the Bucks’ bigs down as much as if Benny the Bull was out there, and Lonzo isn’t playing. So can Caruso get this mob up? Oh Caruso, you’ve done it again. Bucks in 4
"I'm looking for a fight. Where's Mirotic?" - Bobby Portis

4 Philadelphia 76ers v 5 Toronto Raptors

Troy Goostrey: A traditional roster structure versus the new wave positionless basketball.  Now comes the big test for the Raptors – standing up their style of play across a 7 game series against Philly.  Siakam, O.G., Barnes – just who goes to Embiid?  Or do they let big Joel go for 50-30 each game and try to stop Harden, Harris and co?  But same goes the other way – where do you hide Harden on D with all the weapons Toronto have being able to take guys 1-on-1?  Fascinating series, I’ll go with the home team – Sixers in 7
David Ashman: The Raptors need to be firing on all cylinders against Philly to even have a remote chance. Embiid will dominate against a smaller team and score big. Toronto needs to rely on their rookie Barnes to bring the x-factor to have a chance of getting close. Philly to win easily. Sixers in 5
Jarrod Cotton: The Raptors have a interesting roster strategy with drafting/recruiting everyone around 6-9. This seems like a good idea against most teams but when the opponent has a MVP candidate at 7-0 this might spell trouble. Toronto takes two games because no Matisse or a Harden stinker. Sixers in 6
Jesse Cotton: Best bet for the Raptors is to let Embiid score as much as he wants, and go at him defensively by constantly blowing past Harden. Hopefully by the end of the series Embiid has tired himself out, as he has a history of doing. Then it will be up to Harden to carry the team, which he doesn’t have a history of doing. Not having Thybulle in the Toronto games will put more pressure on Embiid defensively too, but in the end the star power will win out. Sixers in 6
"I'm looking for a fight. Where's Mundine?" - Danny Green

Western Conference

1 Phoenix Suns v 8 New Orleans Pelicans

Troy Goostrey: Surprised to see the Pels here, guess the move for McCollum has definitely paid off.  Assuming Zion is back next year and Ingram stays around, this will build into a pretty good team.  Unfortunately this season they land the red hot Suns looking to get CP3 that elusive title and make amends for last season.  Phoenix might be sold out of brooms at the moment, Suns in 4
David Ashman: Pelicans have done well this far and have stepped it up during the playins. CJ has been great and Ingram can cause matchup problems all day But the Suns are a great all round team and they will stop the Pel’s in their tracks. Zion to look to Arby’s burgers once the season is over and feast. Booker and CP3 to advance. Suns in 5
Jarrod Cotton: The Suns have been beating teams with clockwork efficiency, this will be a sweep. To quote Weird Al – “Like a surgeon.”. Suns in 4
Jesse Cotton: Like the Bucks, the Suns know what it takes to get at least to the Finals, and won’t want to waste any time making this series go any longer than it needs to (not that any other team loses on purpose mind you). The Pelicans look like they might have a good team for next season if everyone is healthy, and finished off the season great, including the play-in games. But the Suns aren’t the Spurs or the Clippers (not as cool, hey Zo). Suns in 4
"Chris Paul headfakes'll make ya" - Trevor Ariza
"Jump! Jump!" - Chris Paul
"Chris Paul flops'll make ya" - Trevor Ariza
"Foul! Foul!" - Chris Paul
"If they don't, they make ya" - Trevor Ariza
"Whinge! Whinge!" - Chris Paul
"Uh huh, uh huh" - Trevor Ariza

2 Memphis Grizzlies v 7 Minnesota Timberwolves

Troy Goostrey: Two teams with a rich championship pedigree … these teams are not!  Great to have them both in the playoffs and just a pity they are up against each other.  Minnesota are playing well of late, Ant-Man turning into the KAT sidekick right before our eyes.  D-Lo finding some of the All-Star form he has and Beverley being the usual pain off the bench.  Memphis have been great all season, Ja elevating to that real star of the league status, and guys like Bane, Jackson Jr and Brooks developing along the way.  I just think the Grizz are in rhythm and ready to push in these playoffs. Grizzlies in 5
David Ashman: Great matchup with two run and gun teams showcasing great athletes to show off some highlight reels for the fans. Ja and co will be keen to advance to the next stage but will meet some stiff comp in KAT, Antman and crew. Expect Pat Bev to be a nuisance and cause some argy bargy and techs. If the Grizzlies can keep their heads then they will advance but the Wolves will be no push over. This will (hopefully) be a great series that will go down to the wire. Grizzlies in 7
Jarrod Cotton: Two up and coming teams playing off in this one. I really think the Grizzlies prevail because they have more depth, each of their wins coming with a different leading scorer. Grizzlies in 6
Jesse Cotton: What can you do against this Memphis team? What slows them down? Ja getting injured, no that doesn’t work. Everyone getting in foul trouble? They legit go at least 12 deep. A fight? Adams will pick you up and walk you off. A young team like the Grizzlies will take an early game from play in momentum, like Memphis did against the Jazz last year, but the Grizzlies will get the other 4. Grizzlies in 5
"Slim pickings here" - Anthony Peeler

3 Golden State Warriors v 6 Denver Nuggets

Troy Goostrey: The vets of Golden State are getting back together just at the right time of the season.  Does Steph play from Game 1, or does he still miss a couple?  At least with Poole and Kuminga getting a good taste this season given the injuries, the Warriors can put more trust in depth if the injuries still limit minutes.  Denver is all Jokic all day now.  Well, they have been all season with Murray out.  There’s rumors he might be close but I can’t see them risking him.  They’ll jump on Jokic as much as they can, but ultimately the Warriors overrun them – Warriors in 6
David Ashman: The Warriors are looking good again and with Steph back, will be pretty hard to beat. It is a shame that the Nuggets don’t have their full team back with Murray and MPJ. If they had those guys on the floor, I would actually pick the Nuggets. Especially with back to back MVP Jokic (sorry Embiid, you’re not MVP) causing havoc for the Warriors. But again the Nuggets will fall short, which is a shame for me 🙁 Oh well, next year…… Warriors in 7
Jarrod Cotton: They’re back. A close facsimile to the original Warriors of’14. Not even the reigning MVP (Nikola “dad bod” Jokic) will be able to stop them moving on. Warriors in 5
Jesse Cotton: It looks like the Warriors will have everyone back, maybe not 100% but they’ve been playing so long together that I don’t think they need to redevelop chemistry. The Warriors have at least the 3 best guards in this series, which highlights just how much Jokic has to do. Expect one random lights out game from an Austin Rivers, but apart from that every other game will see a big Jokic triple double in a loss. Warriors in 5
"I've just joined a team that has a legit shot to win a championship this year" - JaVale McGee
"Again!" - Andre Iguodala

4 Dallas Mavericks v 5 Utah Jazz

Troy Goostrey: No Luka, No Dallas.  Simple as that.  Dinwiddie, Brunson and Co can try all they like but this series is a sweep until Luka shows up.  He’ll come back around Game 4 at which time it will be too late – although he can get one or two more technicals!  Utah haven’t looked the same since Ingles went down and his teamwork has impacted them more then expected.  Still, it’s a tough deep Jazz squad with the D of Conley and Gobert holding teams back. Jazz in 5
David Ashman: Not sure how Dallas got here, I don’t actually rate them. Which is a testament to Jason Kidd and his coaching skills, underrated. If Doncic is injured which looks like it is the case, then the Jazz should be too much of a handful and win easily. But hey it’s play-off time and anything can happen. Boban may hit 5 threes in a game and steal the show. Or not. Jazz in 6
Jarrod Cotton: Utah will be too busy hanging out in all the Jazz clubs there to really think about advancing past this round. Every game Luka plays they get a win, so Utah wins the first two and then the Mavericks proceed to take the next four. Mavericks in 6
Jesse Cotton: This all comes down to Luka, and it’s a bit worrying that we are hearing as much about his injury as Zion’s. That normally means he won’t be, or at least shouldn’t be, playing. Can Dinwiddie and Brunson step it up and beat the Jazz with Luka out? Even though the Jazz have been reeling Bulls-style to finish the season, Mitchell always steps it up in the playoffs, trying to prove to the Jazz (and Danny Ainge) that they don’t need Gobert. My gut feel says Luka won’t be playing, in which case Jazz in 5
"This won't be the last you'll hear from me" - Jae Crowder

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