Post-Round 1 NBA Finals Prediction
16 NBA teams made the playoffs and only eight — the Heat, Bucks, Celtics, 76ers, Suns, Grizzlies, Warriors and Mavericks — remained at the end of the first round.
Higher seeds in both conferences avoided a series upset as of right now and moved on to their Conference Semifinal round matchups.
None of the eight series reached a Game 7 so far as every remaining team has brought their best so far this postseason.
With that being said, here is my prediction for the 2022 NBA Finals
Celtics vs. Suns
Since the turn of the new year, the Suns and Celtics hold two of the best records in the entire NBA, posting respective records of 37-10 and 34-12 over that time span.
The two squads are defensive juggernauts, as the Celtics are tied for first in defensive rating while the Suns are third.
After an NBA Finals appearance last year, the Suns registered a franchise record 64 wins this season, eight games ahead of second place.
The presence of veteran point guard Chris Paul and three-time All-Star guard Devin Booker headline one of the league’s best backcourts, as Paul’s pass-first mindset compliments Booker’s ability to score at will.
Phoenix’s lineup also features a former Defensive Player of the Year in Mikal Bridges — a guy who has the ability to stick with anyone on the floor.
Along with center Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder, the NBA’s regular season champions have a roster full of depth, with forward Cameron Johnson and guard Cameron Payne able to fill in when the starters need a rest.
The Suns are coming off a 4-2 series win versus the No. 8 seed New Orleans Pelicans without Booker, arguably their best player.
In the Eastern Conference, the road to the NBA Finals isn’t as clear, as the remaining four teams finished the season within two games of each other.
However, the Celtics finished the season stronger than any other team in the East, and after sweeping the Nets in a series that could’ve gone seven games, the shamrocks look at the top of their game under first-year coach Ime Udoka.
Budding superstar Jayson Tatum has led the team in scoring in the postseason and ranks No. 3 out of all playoff scorers while Jaylen Brown is the team’s second option.
The tandem has led the Celtics all season, but their play in the playoffs so far has elevated Udoka’s squad to another level.
Boston’s switch defense, headed by 2022 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, completely takes away the pick-and-roll game. The whole lineup can guard positions one to five, making them a tough team to score against.
Center Robert Williams is also easing back into action ahead of the Celtics’ second round series against the Milwaukee Bucks and reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Both teams have a long way to go with some tough opponents in the near future. However, with the way these two teams meshed the transition from regular season to postseason, this NBA Finals matchup looks more likely by the day.
Zach Allen is a second-year digital and print journalism major. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.