The 2023 NBA playoffs began on Saturday, and there are some very intriguing playoff matchups this year.

The defending champion Golden State Warriors look to defend their title, but will have to defeat the surprising Sacramento Kings in the first round. The Los Angeles Lakers and Lebron James take on Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies. Back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets take on the Minnesota Timberwolves. This season was a competitive one, and the championship is up for grabs for any of these teams. However, the Warriors, Suns, and Bucks are likely favorites to become champions.

Eastern Conference predictions and seeds

    1. Milwaukee Bucks-58-24
    2. Boston Celtics- 57-25
    3. Philadelphia 76ers- 54-28
    4. Cleveland Cavaliers- 51-31
    5. NY Knicks- 47-35
    6. Brooklyn Nets- 45-37
    7. Atlanta Hawks- 41-41
    8. Miami Heat- 44-38

Bucks vs. Heat- This will be a lopsided series victory for the Milwaukee Bucks. I do not see anybody containing Giannis, and the Heat had to endure a long run to even make the playoffs. The Bucks are the more experienced, aggressive team and will advance to the second round, beating the Heat in 5 games.

Celtics vs. Hawks- I expect the Celtics to win this series with ease. The combination of Jayson Tatum. and Jaylen Brown will be too much for the inexperienced Hawks to handle. Trae Young will be a playmaker for Atlanta, but it will simply not be enough. Celtics take this series in 5 games.

76ers vs. Nets- The Nets made the playoffs despite trading away stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving at the trade deadline. However, this matchup versus the 76ers will be a battle for them as they take on MVP frontrunner Joel Embiid and the 76ers. Although the Nets do have depth, the 76ers are on a mission and Embiid won’t let them lose this series. The 76ers take this series in 5 games.

Cavaliers vs. Knicks- This is a very intriguing matchup between two middle seeds. Potential MIP winner Jalen Brunson and teammate Julius Randle look to pull the first-round upset against Donovan Mitchell and the very talented Cleveland Cavaliers. I do believe the Knicks are a playoff team, but the Cavaliers are going to be too much to handle. Cavs win this series in 6 games.

Western Conference predictions and seeds

  1. Denver Nuggets-53-29
  2. Memphis Grizzlies-51-31
  3. Sacramento Kings-48-34
  4. Phoenix Suns-45-37
  5. LA Clippers-44-38
  6. Golden State Warriors-44-38
  7. LA Lakers-43-39
  8. Minnesota Timberwolves-42-40

Nuggets vs. Timberwolves- I do not see the Timberwolves winning this series, or even coming close. Although a playoff team, the Rudy Gobert trade before this season could very well go down as one of the worst in NBA history, and the T Wolves will have to deal with that. On top of that, the Nuggets have arguably the most dominant force in the game in Nikola Jokic. Nuggets sweep the T Wolves and move on to the second round.

Grizzlies vs. Lakers-I expect the Grizzlies to win this series. The Lakers have had a roller coaster season, and Ja Morant will be too much for the inconsistent Lakers defense to handle. Lebron will continue to be the player he is, but the talent around him is just too little to contend any further. Grizzlies in 6.

Steph and Klay vs. the Kings

Kings vs. Warriors- The Sacramento Kings have been the most surprising team in the league this season and have played playoff-caliber basketball this far into the season. However, the Warriors are the defending champs and have more all-around talent than the Kings. It will be very hard to contain Steph Curry and Klay Thompson for this young Kings squad. I have the Warriors moving on and pulling the first-round upset in 7 games.

Suns. vs. Clippers- In another intriguing matchup, the LA Clippers look to capitalize on their recent winning streak and beat the Suns. However, a trade at the deadline helped the Suns acquire superstar Kevin Durant and that will certainly be an issue for the Clippers. With a big 3 of Durant, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton, I predict the Suns will win this series in 5 games and move to the second round of the NBA playoffs.

The 2023 NBA playoffs will be fun to watch and bring NBA fans a lineup of great series with talented players. Between the matchups of KD vs. Russ, Tatum vs., Young, and the Kings vs. the defending champs, these playoffs give fans a lot to look forward to.


For more from the author Charles Bolone, follow him out on Twitter here: @cbolone

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Photo Credit: © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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By Published On: April 16th, 2023Categories: NBA

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