The NBA playoffs are here. How they unfold is anyone’s guess.
Preseason title favorite Brooklyn Nets is still in contention for a spot in the first round. The darling of preseason betting, the Los Angeles Lakers, are already at home.
With two qualifying games on Tuesday night and two more on Wednesday, Colin Cowherd predicts which teams will progress over the next few weeks and ultimately make it to the NBA Finals.
Suns, Nets & Bucks shed light on Colin Cowherd’s NBA playoff predictions
Colin Cowherd shares his NBA playoff predictions ahead of this week’s tournament. Will the Bucks repeat? Can the Suns redeem themselves? Which two teams will meet in the final?
Here’s how Cowherd sees each conference unfolding.
Play-in winners: Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs
Prediction: No. 1 Miami Heat over No. 8 Cleveland Cavaliers
Colin’s review: “The depth, the talent, the experience in Miami is better. They have the best bench scorer in the league.”
Prediction: #4 Philadelphia 76ers vs. #5 Toronto Raptors
Colin’s review: “Who’s the Raptors’ top scorer? Fred VanVleet? Pascal Siakam? The team with the two best blocks versus the team with no big blocks.”
Prediction: No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 6 Chicago Bulls
Colin’s review: “Milwaukee has played them four times, won all four games. Chicago can’t beat good teams, Lonzo Ball is out. It’s not going to be a close series.”
Prediction: No. 7 Brooklyn Nets vs. No. 2 Boston Celtics
Colin’s review: “When KD (Kevin Durant) and Kyrie (Irving) play this year, the Nets were 11-6. Ben Simmons is going to play. Remember, the Celtics also lost their best defenseman, Robert Williams, to injury. Major. The Nets will be better defensively thanks to Ben Simmons. The Celtics will be worse without defensive stalwart Robert Williams.”
Prediction: No. 1 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 8 Spurs
Colin’s review: “I don’t think it’s close. They’ve played four times, the Suns have won all four. Also, Spurs just aren’t made to beat the right teams. They were 2-14 against the top four teams. from West.”
Prediction: No. 4 Dallas Mavericks vs. No. 5 Utah Jazz
Colin’s review: “It’s the hardest series to predict because Luka (Doncic) has his problem (strained calf). The last two times they played, the Mavs won, and I think the Mavs are better. I think that they’re a better defensive team right now. I’m going to go with the Mavs right now and say, Luka is missing a game and no more than that.
Prediction: No. 3 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 6 Denver Nuggets
Colin’s review: “Jamal Murray and Michael Porter are still out for the Nuggets, so they don’t have a full roster of players. I think it’s an interesting series. Golden State, sometimes – Kevon Looney is your center – they’re not very big, you get a little pounded in. But I’ll enjoy the experience, Steph (Curry) makes big plays, Jordan Poole is an emerging star.
Prediction: No. 7 Los Angeles Clippers over No. 2 Memphis Grizzlies
Colin’s review: “I think Memphis is too young to win this series, it’s an upset. The Clippers have the most wing defensemen in the league. The Clippers have been in more big games. They’re the best shooting team 3 points from the All-Star Break.”
Prediction: Sixers No. 4 on Heat No. 1
Colin’s review: “It’s close. … Miami is a better bench team, but the benches shrink in the playoffs. Second, I’ve got the two best closers in the series, they’re both on the Sixers. Jimmy Butler n “He’s not a big closer, he’s a great athlete. Same with Bam Adebayo. Their advantage on the bench won’t be a big advantage.”
Prediction: No. 3 Bucks on No. 7 Nets
Colin’s review: “That’s where the lack of chemistry — it’s so good with Milwaukee and so uneven with Brooklyn — that’s where I think Brooklyn hits its ceiling. Also, among the top three closers in the series, Milwaukee has one, and Khris Middleton’s is the fourth best closer, but he was pretty good in the playoffs last year.
Prediction: No. 1 Suns over No. 4 Mavericks
Colin’s review: “The Suns went 3-0 against the Mavs. I still don’t think we know what’s going on with Luka. I think the Suns are easily the best team in the league, and I think they’re getting rid of the Mavs pretty quickly.”
Prediction: No. 7 Clippers over No. 3 Warriors
Colin’s opinion:I’ll call the surprise, Clippers vs. Warriors. Again, they had a lot of depth, a lot of body. Kawhi Leonard can play, my instinct feels it. And the Warriors, since the All-Star break, they’ve been like a .500 team. So they’re not quite sure what to do with (Jonathan) Kuminga. Can they rely on Jordan Poole? It will be good. What are we going to get from Klay (Thompson)? Steph was beaten up, like Draymond (Green).”
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
Prediction: No. 3 Bucks over No. 4 Sixers
Colin’s review: “I think when Brook Lopez came back, they’re the much better defensive team here. (James) Harden hasn’t played well lately. They (the Bucks) have big game experience here. Again, we kind of dumped the Sixers I think (Tyrese) Maxey and Harden and (Joel) Embiid, they’re all trying to figure each other out Milwaukee knows exactly what they are They’ve been in a lot of big games including the conference finals and the final last year.”
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
Prediction: No. 1 Suns over No. 8 Clippers
Colin’s review: “Look, the Clippers are a 7 seed. The Suns were easily the best team in the league. At some point, you hit your ceiling. Even with Kawhi, I don’t think you have the chemistry yet. But I I said the other day I think Clippers-Suns is going to be an interesting series. I think that’s the only team that has enough length, enough experience, a good coach, they’re going to play with house money. … They’ll be playing incredibly loose. I think the Clippers would give the Suns a headache. And, you know, Chris Paul’s health, fingers crossed.
That leaves an NBA Finals rematch between the Suns and Bucks. If last summer is any indication, this would be a great game. The Bucks rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win the series in six.
Cowherd isn’t ready to say which team he sees winning the title this year.
“And I have the right not to make any prognosis on that…, for the moment,” he said. “By the way, you had no problem when the Lakers-Celtics met every year in the Finals. What’s wrong with that? They’re the best-built teams in the league with the best chemistry , good coaches, good GMs, great rosters.”
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