NBA Conference Finals 2022 – Best Bets

05 / 16 / 2022 By Ally Mielnicki

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After going down 0-2 in the Semifinals, who would have thought Luka would lead the Mavericks to an improbable comeback to win the series against the Suns? Likewise, when it seemed over for the Celtics, trailing 3-2 in the series, Boston roared back by blowing out the defending Champion Bucks in back-to-back games.

It’s been a wild and crazy NBA playoff so far – and now it gets extra fun. With four teams left before one is crowned 2022 NBA Champions, let’s look at who we would like to advance to the Finals.



Celtics (-175) over Heat

When Milwaukee took a 3-2 series lead, I was confident that the Bucks would win Game 6 at home. When that did not happen, thanks to the incredible 46-point outburst of Jayson Tatum, I figured there would be no way Tatum would duplicate that effort. Was I wrong in the worst way? Not only did the Celtics find a way to win Game 6 on the road, but they embarrassed the Bucks in a win-or-go-home Game 7. In this series, Tatum again proved why he is a bona fide star in this league. Add in a revitalization game from Al Horford in Game 4 and some clutch shooting by Grant Williams and Jaylen Brown throughout the series. Boston has established itself by being perhaps the most consistent and all-around team in the postseason.

On the other hand, the Heat had a much easier job of dismantling the Sixers in 6 games. Though Philadelphia managed to steal two games at home once Joel Embiid returned, it was not enough as Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, and Bam Adebayo took care of business. It was a statement win for the No. 1 seed in the East, despite injuries to multiple players, including Kyle Lowry. However, the Celtics are a much different team than the Sixers and the Hawks, the Heat’s First Round opponent.

Both of these teams match up evenly. The Celtics excelled in their blowout wins against the Bucks due to their dangerous 3-point shooting and depth. While the Heat play at a similarly slow, methodical pace as the Celtics, Boston still has the upper hand with several scoring threats both on the inside and outside. This series has the potential to go the full 7 games, which I think it will. Though they will have to win on the road, the Celtics have proven that they are undeterred in their first two matchups this postseason. Give me Boston in 7. 



Mavericks (+200) over Warriors

Even though I originally picked the Warriors to advance to the Finals, I’m backing the Mavs now. Why the change? Well, that could be summed up in one word: Luka. In his 7 games against the Suns, Luka was unstoppable. In Game 7 alone, Doncic put up 27 points in the first half – the exact amount of points the Suns accumulated. With a 30-point lead at halftime, the game was over before the 3rd quarter began. The Mavs ultimately won 123-90 in a blowout in Phoenix. Though he was not a finalist for MVP, there is no question that Luka has proven why he is perhaps the best player right now in the NBA. In his 10 postseason games this year, Doncic has averaged an astounding 31.5 ppg, 10.1 rebounds, and 6.6 assists. If his teammates were better scorers, he would easily average a triple-double.

The Warriors find themselves back in the WCF for the first time since the 2019 postseason. With the original Big 3 – Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green – all healthy, Golden State disposed of Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets in the First Round and the Grizzlies in the Semis. While those series wins are no small tasks, they benefited from playing the Nuggets without Jamal Murray or Michael Porter Jr. Furthermore, after young superstar Ja Morant went down with an injury in Game 3, the Warriors benefited from finishing off Memphis without his star talents. Now, they will have to find a way to stop Luka if they want to take on either Miami or Boston in the Finals.

This is a tough matchup for the Warriors. Not only is Luka the best player on the court between the two teams, but the Warriors have gone cold in multiple games this postseason, particularly Thompson. If Golden State wants to limit Doncic, they will need Draymond to step up on defense and not lose his cool as he had done several times this postseason. On paper, the Warriors have more depth, but if Luka can stay consistent, he has enough talent around him to hang in with Golden State. This matchup has the makings of a 7-game classic, but I think Dallas will not only prevail but win at home in Game 6. Give me the Mavericks.


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