Predicting every 2nd round series of the 2022-23 NBA Playoffs
Following the conclusion of the opening round of the 2022-23 NBA playoffs, let's look at the Semifinal matchups in both conferences.
#8 Miami Heat vs. #5 New York Knicks
Following their 4-1 upset in the first round over the Milwaukee Bucks, Miami has advanced to take on the Knicks in the second round. New York took the regular season series 3-1 over Miami, but all four games were tightly contested. This matchup should be relatively low scoring based on the level of defense seen by both of these teams throughout the season, as Miami gave up the 2nd fewest points in the regular season and New York gave up the 2nd fewest points in the opening round of this year's playoffs.
In my humble opinion, I think all of the injuries that Miami is dealing with may catch up with them in this matchup. If Julius Randle and Grimes can play, Miami just doesn't have the depth or size to really deal with everything that New York can throw at them. I still think Jimmy Butler will be incredible and may cause this series to go the Heat's way, but overall, New York is a better team. Despite Miami winning the opening game of the series yesterday, I'm leaning just slightly towards the Knicks to get the job done in a great series.
Prediction: New York in 7
#2 Boston Celtics vs. #3 Philadelphia 76ers
The most frequent matchup in NBA playoffs history is on our hands again, as the Celtics and 76ers will meet in the postseason for the 22nd time. I'm not sure this one will live up to some of the series in the past, as Boston appears to be a much better team. It doesn't help Philly's chances that Joel Embiid is battling an LCL sprain that may keep him sidelined multiple games in the series, putting even more pressure on the role players of the 76ers.
Boston is coming off a 4-2 victory over the feisty Atlanta Hawks in the opening round, while Philadelphia took care of the Brooklyn Nets in a 4-0 sweep. When you look at matchups, if Embiid is sidelined or at least limited, there are mismatches that the Celtics can exploit all over the court. With Boston having the superstar duo of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the Sixers will have their hands full trying to keep those guys under wraps, especially without the usual rim protection from Embiid. If Embiid was 100%, I would still pick the Celtics, but since Embiid appears to be hobbled, I'm not sure if Philly can even keep it competitive.
Prediction: Boston in 5
#1 Denver Nuggets vs. #4 Phoenix Suns
This is a very interesting matchup that I think could go either way when first looking at it. But, after diving into the roster construction and the depth of both teams, I don't think it'll be as closely contested as some people think. I said during the opening round that Phoenix's lack of depth would hurt them at some point, and I think it's going to be against Denver.
The Nuggets are one of the most disrespected #1 seeds I can remember in the NBA in quite some time. They have the back-to-back MVP on their roster and some really solid other pieces, yet the vast majority of analysts are going with the Suns. I disagree. While I think the Suns have one of the best starting 5's in the league, they have NOTHING on the bench. When you pair that with the dominance that I expect Nikola Jokic to have over Deandre Ayton and any of the Suns' other bigs, I think the Nuggets will handle Phoenix.
Prediction: Nuggets in 6
#7 Los Angeles Lakers vs. #6 Golden State Warriors
It appears that this may be the final showdown in the Lebron James vs. Stephen Curry matchup and it's set up to be a fun one. While this series looked like it had no chance of happening based on how these teams played in the regular season for certain stretches, here we are. Both the Warriors and Lakers have some serious flaws, but they counterbalance that with star power and solid role players.
After both teams knocked off teams with better records in the first round, they'll now get to duke it out for a chance to play in the Western Conference Finals. Golden State is 19-0 against Western Conference teams in the playoffs since Steve Kerr became the Warriors coach. Can LeBron and company end that streak? I don't think so. I do expect this series to be very competitive and for both teams to show flashes of former brilliance, but I think Golden State just has a little too much for a 38-year-old LeBron James.