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Full NBA Playoff Predictions

The NBA season has ended after a long 82-game season. I’m here to give you my thoughts on the fate of all twenty teams that have made it to the playoffs or the Play-In Tournament. This was the first article on this website last April and we are now back for this year's playoffs. Let's dive right in.


2024 NBA Playoff Bracket
via CBS Sports

PLAY-IN TOURNAMENT - April 16th - April 19th:


WESTERN CONFERENCE:


8. Los Angeles Lakers at 7. New Orleans Pelicans (-1.5), 7:30 PM


Lebron James and Zion Williamson
via Gerald Herbert / AP

The Lakers and Pelicans just faced off against each other on the last day of the NBA season, which resulted in a wire-to-wire win for the Lakers. I expect more of the same tonight when this game happens tonight. I don't expect the Lakers to throw the game to avoid the Nuggets, especially to have a chance to play teams they went 1-7 against (0-4 vs. Kings, 1-3 vs Warriors). In their wins against the Pelicans, the Lakers have beaten them by an average of twenty-four points and are 3-1 against New Orleans. The Lakers own this matchup.


Prediction: The Lakers win the game and clinch the seventh seed.


10. Golden State Warriors (-2.5) at 9. Sacramento Kings, 10 PM


Keegan Murray and Stephen Curry
via Getty Images

The first-round matchup from last year is now getting a rematch in the Play-In, which should be a close game. Three of the four regular-season games were decided by one point. One point could have changed seeding for either team. The Warriors won last year and still have Stephen Curry. I like the Warriors to win tonight and keep their season going.


Prediction: The Warriors win and keep their season alive.


8th Seed Game: 10. Golden State Warriors at 7. New Orleans Pelicans


Zion Williamson and Stephen Curry
via Sean Gardner / Getty Images

In the second to last game of the season, the Pelicans ended up beating the Warriors by five to get a leg up in the standings and help the Lakers secure the eighth seed. They now are faced with playing the Warriors to keep their season going. I just don't have faith in the Pelicans winning a game that matters. No one on that team has shown me that it has that dog in them. Give me the Warriors with their experience to grab the eighth seed.


Prediction: The Warriors win the 8th Seed Game and clinch the 8th seed.


EASTERN CONFERENCE:


8. Miami Heat at 7. Philadelphia 76ers (-4.5), 7 PM


Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid and Kyle Lowry
via Megan Briggs / Getty Images

The 76ers finally got Joel Embiid back recently but it wasn't enough to get into the top six. That won't matter as I have Philadelphia winning and Embiid having his best chance to make some noise in a crowded Eastern Conference.


Prediction: The 76ers win and clinch the seventh seed.


10. Atlanta Hawks at 9. Chicago Bulls (-3.5), 9:30 PM


Trae Young double-teamed by Demar Derozan
via Quinn Harris / Getty Images

I feel like both of these teams are always in the 9 vs 10 matchup portion of the East play-in. Both of these teams are painfully average and I really can't give an edge to either team. I would say I'll take the Hawks because I believe Trae Young is the best player on either team and his return should give the Hawks a jolt of energy.


Prediction: The Hawks win and keep the season alive.


8th Seed Game: 10. Atlanta Hawks at 8. Miami Heat


Trae Young and Jimmy Butler
via SI

The Heat will win this and be the eighth seed for the second time in a row. The Hawks aren't good enough to beat Playoff Jimmy and the best coach in the league.


Prediction: The Heat win and clinch the eighth seed.


First Round:


WESTERN CONFERENCE:


1. Oklahoma City Thunder vs 8. Golden State Warriors


Chet Holmgren and Andrew Wiggins
via Alonzo Adams / USA TODAY Sports

The Thunder had a remarkable season and a big turnaround as they were the tenth seed last year. So what is their prize for having such a great season? They get to face Stephen Curry and the Warriors. I am torn on this series because the Warriors are so experienced and the Thunder are such a young team. This series will be a long one and ultimately, I have the experience winning out in the end.


Prediction: Warriors in seven.


2. Denver Nuggets vs 7. Los Angeles Lakers


Nikola Jokić and LeBron James
via USATSI

With the Lakers not throwing the game in the Play-In, they get to play their newest rival. The rival they just can't seem to beat. The one that swept them in the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers are a good team and have the pieces to have a long playoff run. It sucks that the Lakers' season got this draw in the playoffs. Their season will end.


Prediction: Nuggets in five.


3. Minnesota Timberwolves vs 6. Phoenix Suns


Anthony Edwards and Kevin Durant
via Jeff Wheeler / Star Tribune

Minnesota was in the Play-In last year and this year they were in contention for the first seed. They get to face the Big 3 of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal. This was the matchup on the last day of the regular season and the Suns won that game pretty handily. The Suns won all three matchups against the Timberwolves. Give me the Suns in this matchup.


Prediction: Suns in six.


4. Dallas Mavericks vs 5. Los Angeles Clippers


James Harden and Luka Doncić
via Adam Pantozzi / NBAE via Getty Images

This is Round 3 of Mavericks versus the Clippers in the First Round. Both of those times the Clippers won but Luka was the best player in those matchups. The main reason Luka lost two times to the Clippers was the lack of a second star. Enter Kyrie Irving and a supporting cast that Luka can win with. The Clippers have a good team but I don't think they can beat this version of the Mavericks.


Prediction: Mavericks in seven.


EASTERN CONFERENCE:


1. Boston Celtics vs 8. Miami Heat


Jayson Tatum and Jimmy Butler
via Nathaniel S. Butler /NBAE via Getty Images

Another Conference Finals rematch in the first round. The Heat surprised everyone with their eighth-seed Finals run. They went up 3-0 and then ended up winning in seven against the Celtics. The Celtics re-tooled and got Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis and the Heat got left at the altar for Damian Lillard. This series won't be close.


Prediction: Celtics in five.


2. New York Knicks vs 7. Philadelphia 76ers


Tyrese Maxey and Jalen Brunson fight over a loose ball
via SB Nation

The Knicks and Jalen Brunson went up a level this year. They hit fifty wins and got to the second seed. Jalen Brunson is a dog and should be in MVP talks this year. All that aside, they have to play an actual MVP and an emerging star in Tyrese Maxey. To make matters worse, Nick Nurse is a better coach than Thibs. I have the 76ers winning this one in a long series.


Prediction: 76ers in seven.


3. Milwaukee Bucks vs 6. Indiana Pacers


Tyrese Haliburton and Giannis Antetokounmpo
via Benny Sieu / USA TODAY Sports

One of the bigger rivalries of the year, especially with the whole Giannis game-ball fiasco. This should be one of the better first-round series just off the storylines and the offensive firepower. Then the report came out that Giannis would be out for the start of the series. That will spell doom for the Bucks. I don't trust Doc in the playoffs and Dame isn't enough to beat these Pacers. Give me Indiana.


Prediction: Pacers in six.


4. Cleveland Cavaliers vs 5. Orlando Magic



Donovan Mitchell goes for a layup against Franz Wagner
via Fernando Medina / NBAE via Getty Images

This could be one of the more interesting first-round matchups, especially with how young both of these teams are. I believe Cleveland will learn from their mistakes from their embarrassing playoff loss from last year. Orlando will play them tough but the Cavaliers experience will get them over the hump.


Prediction: Cavaliers in six.


SECOND ROUND:


WESTERN CONFERENCE:


2. Denver Nuggets vs 6. Phoenix Suns


Kevin Durant and Aaron Gordon
via Matt York / AP

My one question for this series: Who stops Nikola Jokic? Nurkic is not going to do that and no one on the bench will either. The Big 3 will put up a fight but ultimately the Nuggets just have Jokic and more depth and that's all you need sometimes.


Prediction: Nuggets in six.


5. Dallas Mavericks vs 8. Golden State Warriors


Luka Doncić and Stephen Curry
via Ron Jenkins / Getty Images

Another Conference Finals matchup from a couple of years ago. The Mavericks lost that one but put up a good fight. This time Luka has the best team in this series, he is the best player in the series and is the second-best player in this series as well. The Mavericks end the Warriors' eighth-seed run in the second round.


Prediction: Mavericks in six.


EASTERN CONFERENCE:


1. Boston Celtics vs 4 Cleveland Cavaliers


Darius Garland and Jayson Tatum
via CelticsBlog.com

The Celtics have the best player in the series, one of the best benches in the league, and one of the best coaches in the game. The Cavaliers don't have any of that. This series won't be close.


Prediction: Celtics in five.


6. Indiana Pacers vs 7. Philadelphia 76ers


Tyrese Haliburton throws over Joel Embiid
via Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images

The rare 6-7 matchup in the second round shows up in this matchup. The Pacers were one of the more surprising teams in the league and Tyrese Haliburton is amazing, but I just can't see them winning this series. Joel Embiid knows this will be his best chance to make the Conference Finals. It will be close, but Embiid will dominate.


Prediction: 76ers in seven.


CONFERENCE FINALS:


1. Boston Celtics vs 7. Philadelphia 76ers


Joel Embiid and Jayson Tatum
via Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images

A rematch of a playoff series that went to seven games last year happens with a chance to go to the Finals. The Celtics won that series when the team wasn't as good or well-rounded and there is no James Harden for Philadelphia. That could be seen as a positive but don't forget he was a big part of those wins last year. Both teams have changed but one has in a more significant way. Give me the Celtics.


Prediction: Celtics in six.


2. Denver Nuggets vs 5. Dallas Mavericks


Nikola Jokić and Luka Doncić
via Jerome Miron / USA TODAY Sports

Two of the biggest superstars in the game right now. Two of the better duos in the association currently. Who do you pick? The choice is easy for me. The Nuggets have been here before and no one can stop Jokic. Luka will put up numbers but won't be enough to beat a well-oiled machine.


Prediction: Nuggets in six.


NBA FINALS:


1 Boston Celtics vs 2. Denver Nuggets


Jayson Tatum and Nikola Jokić
via Winslow Townson / Getty Images

This is a pretty boring and common Finals prediction. I can't help it that these are the two best teams in the league. Now let's get into the series. The Celtics have a better top-4 but not by much. The Nuggets have the best player by far and have the better second star. They both play great offense and great defense. If the Celtics can stop Jokic, they can win this easily. The only problem is I don't think they can.


Prediction: Nuggets in seven.










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