2022 NBA Playoffs Semifinals – Best Bets

05 / 02 / 2022 By Ally Mielnicki

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Heat over Sixers

The status of Joel Embiid is up in the air for the Sixers in this series. Without the MVP candidate on the floor, Philadelphia could see an early exit this season. Despite trading for James Harden midseason, the Sixers still have not found chemistry with Harden on the floor. However, if Embiid is forced to miss several games or the entire series due to injury, Harden will have to step up and lead the Sixers this postseason. Unfortunately, Harden’s track record in the postseason has been a disappointment in his career, failing to make the Finals with the Rockets and Nets.

Even without Jimmy Butler, the Heat managed to defeat the Hawks in Game 5 to move on to the semifinals. Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, and P.J. Tucker took center stage to put away Trae Young and the Hawks and set up a showdown with the Sixers. In the semis, Butler should be available for Game 1, and guard Kyle Lowry is expected to return later this series, which should boost Miami. 

Even with a healthy Embiid, I still like the Heat to take down the Sixers. Though Embiid plays at an MVP level when healthy, the rest of the Sixers team does not match up well against the Heat. Now that the Heat are finally getting healthy, they are in an excellent position for a run to the Finals. Harden is not the same player he once was when he was the MVP on the Rockets and is not capable of leading the team in Embiid’s absence. Heat in 5. 

Bucks over Celtics

The Celtics surprised many NBA fans by sweeping the Nets in Round 1. Jayson Tatum has established himself as a bonafide star in the league. Along with Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, this Celtics squad is a buttoned-up, disciplined squad that excels both on offense and defense. Few predicted that the Celtics would be a top team this season following the departure of Kemba Walker, but Boston has proved its naysayers wrong. 

In Round 1 of the playoffs, the Bucks had a scare when Khris Middleton went down with an injury in a Game 2 loss. However, the Bucks responded in a dominant way by crushing the Bulls in the next three games to win the series. Giannis continues to play at an MVP level, and with surprise contributions from Grayson Allen, this Bucks team is in a prime position to return to the Finals.

This is an interesting series to handicap, but I am siding with the defending Champions. Giannis has been on a tear, and the Bucks have enough depth on their bench, thanks to Allen, to defeat the Celtics. Boston has been a nice story this season, but in the end, they lack the extensive star power to get past the Bucks. Milwaukee in 6.



Mavs over Suns

Devin Booker is back for the Suns after missing several games against the Pelicans in Round 1 with a hamstring injury. However, the extent of his health remains unclear. In Game 6 against the Pelicans, Booker returned from injury. Yet, he understandably struggled, going only 1-for-6 from behind the arc and 5-for-12 from the field overall. If he is not 100 percent, the Suns will be missing an integral part of their offense. Though Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton, and Mikal Bridges stepped up tremendously in his absence, this squad is not the same team that won Western Finals last season.

On the contrary, Luka Doncic is back for the Mavs. In his 3 postseason games, Doncic has been nearly unstoppable, averaging a double-double with 29 points and 10.7 rebounds. The Mavs are a borderline playoff team without his presence on the court. However, he can single-handedly take over a game and even a playoff series when Luka plays.

This series is a must-watch simply to witness Doncic’s greatness and his quest to lead a team to the Finals. We all know how the Mavs faltered last postseason against the Clippers after taking a series lead. That collapse is still fresh in their heads and could provide extra motivation for Luka’s return. Doncic is the best player on the court between the two teams. If he plays up to the MVP-caliber level he is capable of; he can dominate the game on both sides of the court. The Pelicans gave the Suns a scare, but Phoenix will face a much more formidable opponent in Luka and the Mavs and can’t afford any slip-ups. I predict this series will go the full 7 games, but I’ll take a hungry Luka and the Mavs in the end. 

Warriors over Grizzlies

The Grizzlies are perhaps the most exciting young team to watch in the entire league. Ja Morant has the potential to be a future MVP. Add Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane to the mix, and Memphis will be a perennial playoff contender for years to come. However, though they defeated the T-Wolves in Round 1, it wasn’t an easy task. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Grizzlies trailed 68.5 percent of the time in the series. Thanks to some clutch play, notably by Morant down the stretch, the Grizzlies dominated the 4th quarter and notched multiple come-from-behind victories. That won’t be easy this time around against the Warriors.

After disposing of the Nuggets in 5 games, the Warriors look like the team that won the 2015 NBA Finals. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green are back to form as the Big 3, and with the help of Andrew Wiggins and Gary Payton, they have established themselves as the team to beat. The Warriors are no strangers to the NBA Finals either, having reached the Finals consecutively from 2015 to 2019. Though they failed to make the postseason the past two seasons, Golden State has returned to its dynasty form and now brings much-valued playoff experience to the table.

The Grizzlies are a team to watch for years to come, but they still are a young team that lacks experience. Although Memphis defeated the T-Wolves, the Warriors are a more complete and talented team. It will be an uphill battle, yet Memphis should be able to steal a win or two. This is still Golden State’s series to lose, and the Warriors should handle this young squad. Warriors in 5.


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