NBA Playoff Predictions

By Luke Ervin
Jul. 02, 2020

As we near the start of the resumed NBA season, it's time to make my final NBA Playoff predictions. I previously predicted what seed each team would finish with at the end of the resumed regular season. Using those predictions (listed below), I'll make my playoff predictions.

Eastern Conference

1.) Milwaukee Bucks

2.) Toronto Raptors

3.) Boston Celtics

4.) Miami Heat

5.) Philadelphia 76ers

6.) Indiana Pacers

7.) Orlando Magic

8.) Brooklyn Nets

Western Conference

1.) Los Angeles Lakers

2.) LA Clippers

3.) Denver Nuggets

4.) Houston Rockets

5.) Utah Jazz

6.) Dallas Mavericks

7.) Oklahoma City Thunder

8.) Portland Trail Blazers

1st Round

Eastern Conference

8. Nets vs. 1. Bucks

This is an easy one; quick and painless for the Bucks. Without Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant, the Nets don't stand a chance against Giannis and the Bucks. The Bucks will sweep the Nets.

4-0 Bucks

5. 76ers vs. 4.Heat

A 76ers/ Heat matchup would be the best Eastern Conference series in all of round one. The 76ers have underachieved this season, but the star power of Ben Simmons and Joel Embid will be a huge come playoff time. With that being said, the Heat are one of my sleepers heading into the NBA Playoffs. The Heat have one of the best three-point shooting teams in the NBA, they play good defense, and they have a great mix of veterans and young guys. The Heat win the series in a thriller.

4-3 Heat

7. Magic vs. 2. Raptors

The Raptors have been overlooked since losing Kawhi Leonard. Standing at 46-18 the Raptors will look to finish off the season strong enough to clinch the two seed. I believe they do just that behind the best defense in the NBA. The Raptors only allow 106.5 points per game. The Magic will steal a game, but they don't have enough to put up a serious fight. The Raptors will move on in five games.

4-1 Raptors

6. Pacers vs. 3. Celtics

A big part of this series will be the health of Victor Oladipo. The Pacers have played great defense all year, but they won't have enough scoring without Oladipo to win this series. Meanwhile, the Celtics are 11th in scoring and 2nd in points allowed. Look for the Celtics to shut down the Pacers on the defensive side of the court. The series won't be easy and the Pacers will put up a fight, but the Celtics are clearly the better team here.

4-2 Celtics

Western Conference:

8. Trail Blazers vs. 1. Lakers

Damian Lillard will put up a fight, but this won't be too tough. The Lakers are a better team in every aspect of the game. I would expect some entertaining games but, this will be a quick four-game sweep.

4-0 Lakers

5. Jazz vs. 4. Rockets

The Rockets have one of the best offenses in the NBA. James Harden leads an offense that scores the second-most points per game in the NBA, while the Jazz win games because of their defense. A true clash of philosophies will collide in this matchup. This will be a very entertaining series, but I think the Rockets offensive firepower wins out.

4-2 Rockets

7. Thunder vs. 2. Clippers

The Thunder were one of the surprises of the NBA regular season. It's truly impressive the Thunder were able to bounce back this quickly after losing a Paul George and Russell Westbrook. All the Thunder compliments aside, the Clippers are winning this series. The Clippers have the best players, and it's that simple. Talent will win out in this one; a quick four-game sweep for the Clippers.

4-0 Clippers

7. Mavericks vs. 2. Nuggets

My upset pick of the first round. The Mavericks are scoring machines and although it might not win them a championship right now, it'll sneak them by the Nuggets. I like the Nuggets; they play good defense and they have great ball movement. But, the star power with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis will win out in a gut-wrenching seven-game series.

4-3 Mavericks

Conference SemiFinals

Eastern Conference:

4. Heat vs. 1. Bucks

The Heat are close to being a championship contender but they aren't quite there yet. Interestingly, the Heat won the two regular-season matchups against the Bucks. I was tempted to go with the Heat, but the Bucks will take this one in a six-game series. It won't be easy and I expect a majority of the games to be hard-fought and competitive. Having the best player in a matchup is a huge advantage in playoff basketball and the Bucks have that.

4-2 Bucks

3. Celtics vs. 2. Raptors

What a defensive matchup. The number one defense vs. the number two defense. To me, this series is decided in crunch time. A low scoring defensive matchup likely means the team with the best shot creators win the game. I'll take Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker when the game is on the line. Once again, talent wins out.

4-3 Celtics

Western Conference:

4. Rockets vs. 1. Lakers

Can the Rockets finally win the big series? No. Until their defense improves their playoff performance is limited. The game will be entertaining, but the Lakers will control most of the series. I don't see the Rockets' defense being able to handle Anthony Davis. Plus, having LeBron James doesn't hurt either. The Lakers will take this in six.

4-2 Lakers

6. Mavericks vs. 2. Clippers

The Mavericks underdog run ends here. The talent and depth of the Clippers overpower a Mavericks team that needs another playmaker. The Mavericks will make some games interesting, but overall the Clippers will handle them pretty handily. The Clippers advance in five.

4-1 Clippers

Conference Finals

Eastern Conference:

3. Celtics vs. 1. Bucks

Even though the Bucks have little playoff success, the 2019-2020 Bucks season was historically great. The Bucks are top five in offense and defense. With that being said, the Celtics are built for the playoffs. But in the end, this series is about one thing; can you stop the Greek Freak? I love this Celtics team, but I don't think they can stop Giannis. It's going to be a battle all series long. After six games, the Bucks will pull through and advance to the NBA Finals.

4-2 Bucks

Western Conference:

2. Clippers vs. 1. Lakers

In my eyes, the Clippers are a better basketball team. The depth of the Clippers is the key to this series. Guys like Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams, and Reggie Jackson will all come off the bench for the Clippers and make an immediate impact. Defensively, the Clippers will do just enough to contain Davis. After seven games, the Clippers will punch their tickets to the NBA Finals.

4-3 Clippers

NBA Finals

2. Clippers vs. 1. Bucks

A Giannis vs. Kawhi finals matchup would be one for the ages. Ultimately, the Clippers will win because of Kawhi and the insane bench depth. I've mentioned it before, but this Clippers team is loaded with talent. Unlike the Celtics, the Clippers can match up a little better with Giannis and throw multiple bodies at him. The Clippers win the NBA Finals in an excellent seven-game series.

4-3 Clippers

Who do you think wins the NBA Finals?