Colin’s NBA playoff predictions: Who’s going to the Finals?

The NBA playoffs have arrived. How they play out is anyone’s guess.

The preseason title favorite Brooklyn Nets are still vying for a spot in the first round. The preseason betting darling Los Angeles Lakers are already home.

With two play-in games tipping off Tuesday night, and two more Wednesday, Colin Cowherd predicts which teams will advance over the coming weeks and ultimately play in the NBA Finals.

Suns, Nets & Bucks highlight Colin Cowherd’s NBA playoff predictions

Suns, Nets & Bucks highlight Colin Cowherd's NBA playoff predictions

Colin Cowherd shares his NBA playoff predictions heading into this week’s play-in tournament. Will the Bucks repeat? Can the Suns redeem themselves? Which two teams will meet in the Finals?

Here’s how Cowherd sees each conference playing out.

Play-in winners: Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs


Eastern Conference

Prediction: No. 1 Miami Heat over No. 8 Cleveland Cavaliers

Colin’s take: “The depth, the talent, the experience on Miami is better. They have the best bench scoring in the league.”

Prediction: No. 4 Philadelphia 76ers over No. 5 Toronto Raptors

Colin’s take: “Who’s the Raptors’ go-to scorer? Fred VanVleet? Pascal Siakam? The team with the two best closers against the team with no great closer.”

Prediction: No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks over No. 6 Chicago Bulls

Colin’s take: “Milwaukee played them four times, won all four games. Chicago can’t beat the good teams, Lonzo Ball’s out. It won’t be a close series.”

Prediction: No. 7 Brooklyn Nets over No. 2 Boston Celtics

Colin’s take: “When KD (Kevin Durant) and Kyrie (Irving) play this year, the Nets were 11-6. Ben Simmons is going to play. Remember, the Celtics also lost their best defender, Robert Williams, to an injury. Major. The Nets will be better defensively because of Ben Simmons. The Celtics will be worse without defensive stalwart Robert Williams. “

Western Conference

Prediction: No. 1 Phoenix Suns over No. 8 Spurs

Colin’s take: “I don’t think it’s close. They played four times, Suns won all four. Also, the Spurs are just not built to beat the good teams. They were 2-14 against the top four teams in the West.”

Prediction: No. 4 Dallas Mavericks over No. 5 Utah Jazz

Colin’s take: “This is the hardest series to predict because Luka (Doncic) has got his issue (strained calf). The last couple times they played, the Mavs won, and I think the Mavs are better. I think they’re a better defensive team right now. I’m going to go with the Mavs right now and say, Luka misses one game and not any more than that. “

Prediction: No. 3 Golden State Warriors over No. 6 Denver Nuggets

Colin’s take: “Jamal Murray and Michael Porter are still out for the Nuggets, so they don’t have a full complement of players. I think it’s an interesting series. Golden State, at times – Kevon Looney is your center, they’re not terribly big , you get pounded a little bit. But I’m going to take the experience, Steph (Curry) making big plays, Jordan Poole’s an emerging star. “

Prediction: No. 7 Los Angeles Clippers over No. 2 Memphis Grizzlies

Colin’s take: “I think Memphis is too young to win this series, this is an upset. The Clippers have the most top wing defenders in the league. The Clippers have been in more big games, they’re the best 3-point shooting team since the All-Star break. “


Eastern Conference

Prediction: No. 4 Sixers over No. 1 Heat

Colin’s take: “This is close.… Miami’s a better bench team, but benches shrink in the playoffs. Secondly, I got the two best closers in the series, they’re both on the Sixers. Jimmy Butler is not a great closer, he’s a great athlete. Same with Bam Adebayo. They’re bench advantage won’t be a big advantage. ”

Prediction: No. 3 Bucks over No. 7 Nets

Colin’s take: “This is where the lack of chemistry – it’s so good with Milwaukee and so uneven with Brooklyn – this is where I think Brooklyn meets their ceiling. Also, of the three best closers in the series, Milwaukee has one of them, and Khris Middleton’s the fourth-best closer. But he was pretty good in the postseason last year. “

Western Conference

Prediction: No. 1 Suns over No. 4 Mavericks

Colin’s take: “The Suns went 3-0 against the Mavs. I still don’t think we know what’s up with Luka. I think the Suns are easily the best team in the league and I think they dispose of the Mavs pretty quickly.”

Prediction: No. 7 Clippers over No. 3 Warriors

Colin’s take: “I’m going to call for an upset, Clippers over the Warriors. Again, they got a lot of depth, a lot of bodies. Kawhi Leonard may play, my gut feeling he is. And the Warriors, since the All-Star break, they’re like a .500 team. So, they’re not quite sure what to do with (Jonathan) Kuminga. Can they rely on Jordan Poole? He’ll be good. What are we going to get from Klay (Thompson)? Steph’s been beat up, same with Draymond (Green). “


Prediction: No. 3 Bucks over No. 4 Sixers

Colin’s take: “I think when Brook Lopez came back, they’re the much better defensive team here. (James) Harden hasn’t played well lately. They (the Bucks) have big-game experience here. Again, we kind of threw the Sixers together. I think (Tyrese) Maxey and Harden and (Joel) Embiid, they’re all trying to kind of figure each other out. Milwaukee knows exactly what they are, they’ve been in multiple big games, including the conference finals and the finals last year. “

Prediction: No. 1 Suns over No. 8 Clippers

Colin’s take: “Listen, the Clippers are a 7-seed. The Suns were easily the best team in the league. At some point, you meet your ceiling. Even with Kawhi, I don’t think you have the chemistry yet. But I said the other day, I think Clippers-Suns is going to be an interesting series. I think they’re the one team that has enough length, enough experience, a great coach, they’ll go in with house money.… They’ll play incredibly loose. I think the Clippers would give the Suns some headaches. And, you know, Chris Paul’s health, you cross your fingers. “

That leaves an NBA Finals rematch between the Suns and the Bucks. If last summer is any indication, it’d be a great matchup. The Bucks rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win the series in six. Cowherd isn’t ready to say which team he sees taking the title this year.

“And I have the right not to make a prediction on that .., yet,” he said. “By the way, you guys didn’t have a problem when the Lakers-Celtics met every year in the Finals. What’s wrong with that? They’re the best constructed teams in the league with the best chemistry, good coaches, good GMs , great rosters. “

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