NBA Playoff Predictions
With the trade deadline done and dusted, eyes turn to the NBA playoffs. It’s a fitting time to put together some NBA postseason predictions.
This is an uncertain playoffs for the NBA. Homecourt advantage has dwindled in the absence of packed arenas, but no one is sure what this postseason will look like. There’s also the return of the play-in tournament, albeit in a different format from the experiment in the Orlando bubble.
The NBA betting odds show the Lakers and Nets as the clear favorites to win it all.
5 Predictions for the NBA playoff
Here are five predictions for the 2021 NBA playoffs.
Mavericks cause an upset
Even with Kristaps Porzingis hurt and Luka Doncic playing through ankle pain, the Dallas Mavericks took the Clippers to six games in the bubble. Dallas is hitting their stride in 2021, too.
It was a slow start for the Mavs, but their performances have improved. Porzingis is playing much better. Doncic is back in the MVP race.
They’re unlikely to land homecourt in the first round, and they’ll probably be underdogs, but they’re not an opponent anyone wants. Give them the Suns or Jazz in round one, and they’ll be a great bet to stage an upset.
Celtics fall flat
Boston has experienced playoff disappointment in recent years. Those disappointments have been about getting so close and falling at the final hurdle. Three Conference Finals appearances in four years hasn’t resulted in an NBA Finals outing.
Reaching the Conference Finals looks unlikely this year. The Celtics are disjointed. The trade deadline was underwhelming despite the addition of Evan Fournier. Danny Ainge missed out on Aaron Gordon and dealt Daniel Theis to the Bulls.
As it stands, the Cs are headed for the play-in. Making the postseason isn’t a lock, and if we had to guess, they’re probably on course for a first-round exit.
Jokic delivers again
Nikola Jokic is the NBA MVP favorite despite the Denver Nuggets’ inconsistent results. Denver made possibly the most significant of the trade deadline too, landing Aaron Gordon from the Orlando Magic.
The Nuggets got markedly better on Thursday, and they now have a starting five as scary as any in the Western Conference. With Jokic playing at the level he is, there’s no question Denver is a title contender.
Beyond the impressive box scores, though, it’s Jokic’s clutch play which stands out. He came up huge for the Nuggets in the playoff last season, repeatedly delivering down the stretch.
Don’t let the seeding fool you. The Nuggets are a legitimate title contender.
Lowry leads Raptors to playoffs
Rumors were everywhere, but the Raptors ultimately kept hold of Kyle Lowry at the deadline. Norm Powell was dealt, though Masai Ujiri got a great return in Rodney Hood and Gary Trent Jr.
Hood and Trent can help the Raptors right now. Toronto still has a good enough roster to go on a second half run and force its way into the postseason.
A retool looked possible with a Lowry trade, but the Raptors are set to win plenty of games before the season is up. They won’t be an easy first round out for the Nets, Sixers or Bucks either.
The Clipper fall before the Conference Finals
Rajon Rondo is a risk for the Clippers. He’s not been good for the Hawks. It’s no guarantee that he’ll regain his Lakers form on his return to Staples Center.
The Clips still look disjointed. Their chemistry issues might have been addressed since the bubble, but the on-court problems remain.
If anything, the West has got stronger, and while their ceiling is still as high as anyone’s, they could have a difficult path to the Conference Finals.