I’m a playoff goat this spring.
Not the good kind.
Somehow I completely forgot to launch a community playoff predictions thread before Rounds 1 and 2 of the NBA Tournament like we did last season in the first year of this Substack. Flagrant foul.
Fortunately there’s no rule that says we can’t salvage the concept by opening up the floor for conference finals predictions.
It’s the 2020 Walt Disney World bubble in Orlando all over again in the NBA’s Final Four … except that these conference finals are in May like they’re supposed to be rather than late September.
My picks: Nuggets over Lakers in 6 + Heat over Celtics in 6
Make your own picks in the thread below and I will lock the file before Tuesday night’s Game 1 in the West. And please list your first and last name so we can properly identify those who get their predictions exactly right.
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I respect your relationships and reporting. I don’t think you have any idea who is going to win. Neither do your fellow pundits. Why do you feel compelled to make predictions ?
Nuggets in 6. The Lakers are overdue for an injury, especially with LBJ at such a high usage rate. I hope that doesn’t happen though.
Celtics in 5. Heat will sorely miss Herro in this round, and I also wonder when Butler starts to run out of gas.
Celtics in 7 in the Finals.
Nuggets in 6 (such a bold and unique pick!)
Boston in 6
Nugs in 6 & Celtics in 5.
Then Nugs over Celtics in 5.
Denver over Lakers in 7
Heat over Celtics in 7
Denver over Heat in 6
Denver in 6, Boston in 7
Denver, Boston both in 5
Nuggets over Lakers in 6; Celtics over Heat in 6.
Nuggets over Lakers in 6. Celtics over heat in 7.
Lakers fan here. If it wasn't for the fact these two haven't played since the trade deadline and we don't know what this looks like, I'd probably pick the Nuggets given how great they've been in the playoffs. (I'd prefer to see one game but that's not how predictions work.) In the 2020 WCF, Dwight Howard and Javale McGee were big factors against Jokic, so probably some Mo Bamba run (rather him than Thompson). I'll just be a homer and say Lakers in 6 but don't feel great about it.
Meanwhile, Celtics can't be trusted even though they probably have the most talent and all-round depth but I know Spo will coach circles around Mazzulla. Jimmy is obviously on the all-terrified team but the Heat are going to have a difficult time scoring. Expect the Cs to have a game or two where they look untrustworthy like versus the Hawks and Sixers, so Celtics in 6.
Lakers in 7. Celtics in 7.
Nuggets in 6. Boston in 5
Nuggets over Lakers in 7, Celtics over Heat in 5.
Lakers in 6, Heat in 6. Lakers going to steal game 1, then win 3 in a row at home same as last two series.
Nuggets in 5
Heat in 6
Heat over Nuggets in 6
Jimmy Butler, Finals MVP
Lakers in 6
Nuggets in 5 over Lakers, Jokic is playing with enough poise, productivity and consistency to cancel out AD. Gordon, Porter, and Murray as a unit will offset LeBron and whichever two Lakers step up. Ironically Lakers depth could pose a problem if Walker, Schroeder, and Beasley can produce simultaneously and consistently.
Celtics will need seven to beat Miami. Spo will outright steal one game, and Jimmy will snatch one as well. The Celtics will lose focus at give away a home game, but the Celtics are very good at bouncing back. Miami can't match up with Celtics depth for four games but they will match intensity.
Nuggets in 6
Celtics in 6
Nuggets over Celtics in 7
Celtics in 5
Heat in 6 and Nuggets in 6
Thanks for this! But also, you gotta give the Lakers their due. You think the first home game Lebron and AD and co. lose in these playoffs will be an elimination game with a finals berth on the line?
Lakers in 7. (Lebron already won a game 7 away on a bigger stage against a better opponent.)
Heat in 6. (I’m with you here. Cs were too shaky in round 2 to be confident in.)
And now I pray that Lakers/Celtics doesn’t happen, bc I can’t emotionally handle the Lakers and Cs in the finals, playing for #18.
The absence of Tyler Herro looms large in that Celtics vs Heat series. They will need another one-on-one shot producer to match the offensive production of Tatum and Brown. I think that series will be tight but I would say that Tatum and Brown will be too much and the Celtics win in 6 to possibly 7. The only reason why I say potentially 7 is because the Celtics tend to let competition hang around with their streaky 3-point shooting.
As far as Denver and LA, I think that Lebron will take Denver to 7 but the depth of the Nuggets and the dominance of Jokic means that AD will have to outproduce or match Jokic in terms of production for that series to be competitive. Lebron will be Lebron. That is a given. But the key is AD. Can he cancel out Jokic? That is a tall order: pun intended.
Lifelong Lakers fan who has finally warmed to one of Lebron’s Lakers squads. I love this mix of talent and grit the team has now, and LeBron is on a mission. Reaves scores 30 in the clincher. Lake Show in 6.
Jimmy B is a beast, but I think Boston has too much talent. Boston in 7.
Denver in 6, Boston in 5
The Celtics had 3 must games in that series. Won them all. Needed to win game 2 after losing game 1, needed to win 6&7.
I’m not sure heat can close them out.
I feel almost the exact same way you do
Definitely Denver in 6
Heat in 7
Denver in 5, Celtics in 5
Nuggets in 6, Celtics in 7
Denver in 5; Heat in 6
Nuggets in 5, Celtics in 6
Lakers in 6 .. tho if Jokic can somehow solve his kryptonite, ie AD, this could be Nuggs in 7
Celtics in 7 .. replay of that epic from last season, several stolen games, but Celtics just too good
Lakers in 6, Heat in 6 (I expect the Bubble rematch)
Nuggets in 6, Heat in 7
Nuggets in 7, Celtics in 6.
Celtics in 7
Nuggets in 7, Celtics in 7
Lakers in 6!!!
Celtics in 7...
-- Lakers in 6 has worked for me so far. So sticking it with that prediction this round, too. As for the other series, I see Spo & the Heat giving the Celtics all they can handle. However, the Celts have the superior team, so I think they win in 7.
Lakers in 7, Heat in 7
Heat in 7, Nuggets in 6
Lakers in 7, Celtics in 6
Lakers in 7
I got Nuggets in 6 behind the triple double machine Jokic. And I have Celtics in 7.
Marc, you got Heat over Cs in 6?!? I love Jimmy Butler, his is a playoff god, and my fav player to watch in the postseason. I know the Cs take games off but I don't think Jimmy can overwhelm how talented the Celtics are.