The Conference Finals are set for the 2022 NBA Playoffs.
The top-seeded Miami Heat will take on the No. 2 seed Boston Celtics in the East.
The No. 3 seed Golden State Warriors will face the No. 4 seed Dallas Mavericks in the West.
The winners of each series will meet in the 2022 NBA Finals.
Before we get into an in-depth preview of each series, let’s see how my predictions went in the second round.
My predictions were:
- Celtics in 7
- Sixers in 6
- Warriors in 6
- Suns in 5
While I got two series precisely correct, with the Warriors winning in six and the Celtics winning in seven, I was ultimately off on the Suns-Mavericks series. We witnessed the Suns getting humbled in front of their home crowd. They were talking a lot of trash, and to go out by 33 points on their home court and at one point be down by 50 points is something I don’t know if they can ever come back from that.
In the Heat-Sixers series, I completely underestimated the Heat’s ability to create second chances, and they out-hustled the Sixers to every 50/50 ball. So far, I am 9/12 on series predictions, so let’s get into my conference final predictions without further ado.
Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat
For the 37th time in their franchise’s history, the Boston Celtics will be in the Eastern Conference Finals. An insane stat is that the Celtics will have appeared in half the eastern conference finals in NBA history with this conference finals included. The Heat have reached their second conference final in three years and their sixth in eleven years. In the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals, these two teams faced off the infamous “Bubble,” with the Miami Heat winning in six games. However, this series will be a little different, and here’s why.
The Celtics and Heat are very similar teams, and they both are excellent defensive teams that depend on their ball movement to create offense. In this postseason, the Celtics are giving up 101.8 points per game while the Heat has only given up 97.5 points per game. Both teams defend around 44% from the field, but rebounding will be the most significant difference in this series.
The game plan from the Heat is pretty simple; win the rebounding advantage, win the game. In six out of their eight wins this season, they have won the rebounding battle and have led in second-chance points. While the Celtics are the biggest team the Heat have faced, the injury to Robert Williams, who is not 100%, could be a massive factor in this series, as relying on 35-year-old Al Horford to play 36+ minutes a night is not a good formula for the Celtics.
We have seen how disruptive these defenses are to star players—the Heat shut down Trae Young and James Harden. As for Embiid, they sent him double and even triple teams consistently, and they were still able to recover and rotate almost to perfection.
The Celtics made basketball extremely difficult for Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Giannis Antetekumpo. Each player was held to under 46% from the field was is overly impressive. So what will these series come down to?
I expect these games to be low-scoring, which means the late-game offense will be the difference, especially in the half-court. The Celtics have the two best iso-scorers in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum in this series. While Jimmy Butler has been playing at an unreal level, the Celtics have too many bodies that they can throw at him and tire him out. Every game will be hard-fought, but in the end, the Celtics are just a better version of this Heat team, and they make the NBA Finals for the first time since 2008.
Prediction Celtics in 6
Dallas Mavericks vs. Golden State Warriors
Well, I certainly didn’t see this one coming. When Luka was ruled out for the first two games of the Jazz series, I thought they had no chance against them; 2 weeks later, they took down the 64-18 Suns while destroying them at home in game 7 and have reached their first conference finals since they won the title in 2011. So far, I have gotten both Warriors series dead-on, with the Warriors in five over the Denver Nuggets and the Warriors in six over the Memphis Grizzlies. This should be similar to the Nuggets series due to the Maverick’s style of play.
The Mavericks play an offensive system called 5-out. For readers who don’t know what that is, it is when all offensive players are playing outside the three-point line giving an open lane for their best one on one player. This system was made famous by the Rockets with James Harden.
So, how will this look against the Warriors?
Against the Suns, the Mavs went after Chris Paul almost every possession to wear him down; I’d expect the same strategy for Jordan Poole and Steph Curry. This isn’t a new idea when playing the Warriors. This was the key to success for the Cavs in the 2016 NBA finals and why the Rockets almost dethroned the Warriors in 2018 and 2019. The Warriors’ counter is that they can play small ball with the Mavs, something the Jazz and Suns were not accustomed to. The Warriors have zero issues going heavy minutes with Draymond Green at the center spot, meaning their rotations and switch everything defense could give the Mavericks some trouble.
These teams are lethal from the three-point line; the Mavericks lead the playoffs in three-point baskets (40.4) and make (15.5) a game. The Warriors are third with 14.3 threes a game and have the lethal trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Jordan Poole. A notable increase in their performance has taken the Warriors to the conference finals as the main favorite to win the series with odds at -225 against a Dallas team with the longest title odds of the four teams left; those betting lines are attractive for sports bettors where they can take advantage of the Caesars promo code for the Conference series.
This key in this series is those who will be able to play at their pace. The Mavericks play at the slowest pace in the NBA, and the Warriors love to push the ball for east buckets and transition threes. While Luka Doncic is a different animal from Nikola Jokic, the Warriors have the versatility to string out their three-point shooters. While Luka will get his numbers, the others will struggle. The Warriors are a deeper and more talented team; the Maverick’s run ends here.
Prediction: Warriors in 5
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