NBA Playoffs: Semi-final predictions

The smoke is starting to clear for the 2022 NBA season and the race to be the last team left is down to 8 teams. The top four seeds advanced in both conferences setting up what could be the greatest semi-final round in a long time. Not to toot my own horn but I did go 8-0 two weeks ago with my initial predictions. Granted, none of the first round series went seven games though (I predicted that at least two would go the distance). Nonetheless, I’m ready to reveal my picks for round two of the 2022 NBA playoffs.
Western Conference:
1)Phoenix Suns v 4) Dallas Mavericks. The Suns are going to steal homecourt in one of the first two games in Dallas. The Mavs have been up there with the Suns, Grizzlies, and Celtics as the best team since the calendar went to the year 2022. Adding Spencer Dinwiddie to the roster at the trade deadline has been imperative to their success. With Luka healthy it’s tough to see a team beat the 4 times. That toughness that is required lives in the heart of Suns All-Star guard Devin Booker. Booker returned to the court for the Suns’ close out game 6 victory over New Orleans after suffering a strain hamstring, The injury is usually a 2-3 rehab time. Booker only needed 9 days. With Booker getting some much-needed rest to help heal his hamstring, Chris Paul is prime to repeat a run to the NBA Finals. In Game 6, the point God delivered a performance for the ages. 33 points on a historic 14-for-14 shooting along with 8 dimes. The Suns have depth at almost every position. The embody the word toughness. Very interesting series ahead of us. Phoenix in 6.
2) Memphis Grizzles v 3) Golden State Warriors. Everything in me wants to be able to pick Memphis confidently, I just can’t do it. The Grizzles won the regular season series 3-1. However,

Memphis didn’t have to battle the Splash Brothers, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins. All while being introduced to the Poole Party. The Death Lineup 2.0 outran and shot the lights out the gym when on the floor together. The Warriors are battle tested with their big 3. The Grizzles will need to punish these guys in the paint. Counter small ball with ground and pound. Brandon Clarke must be just as dominant as he was in the Timberwolves series. If we see the same glimpses of “wow” moments with Klay Thompson as we did in round 1, this series might be over by game 5. Warriors in 7.
Eastern Conference
1)Miami Heat v 4) Philadelphia 76ers. I had Philly going to the conference finals before the untimely injury to MVP front runner Joel Embiid. His injury is tough for the 76ers and the game of basketball. Kyle Lowry status is still up in the air but expect him back very soon in this series. The Heat just have it. They can shoot, defend the wing, rebound, and steal a game they shouldn’t win. They have the capabilities of a team destined for the NBA Finals. Jimmy Butler has been the 2nd best player in this year’s playoffs. With Embiid gone, James Harden needs to be the guy that Daryl Morey imagined he would be when he traded to get him in February. Usually when a star player goes down the mentality is “Next Man Up”. In Philly it needs to be Every man has next. Anything less than that will have Philly asking the same questions they had last year. Harden and sixers will make this interesting once the series flips back to Philly. Heat in 6
2)Boston Celtics v 3) Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee also got an untimely visit from the injury bug with Khris Middleton scheduled to miss most of this series. Boston was the only team not to lose last round. That could change as early as Game 1. That’s the type of team Mike Budenholzer has at his disposal. Giannis Antetokounmpo stepped up in a major way when Middleton went down. Getting a big help from Grayson Allen, The Bucks made easy work of the Chicago Bulls. Boston leads the league in defensive efficiency so, expecting a repeat performance from Allen might be a tough task. Even with Giannis playing out of his mind this postseason is about Jayson Tatum. His timely baskets and mamba-like approach to each game is nothing short of amazing. The Celtics smothered Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving for much of their 4-game series. With DPOY Marcus Smart, a seasoned veteran in Al Horford and the return of Robert Williams, it’s going to be a long series for the defending champs. Those 118 points scored by Tatum were a franchise record for most during a 4-game sweep. Boston in 7.

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