Playoffs have arrived: Predicting the 2024 NBA Champion

Playoffs have arrived: Predicting the 2024 NBA Champion

Regular season basketball has come to an end and the road to the championship is underway. The NBA Playoffs, much like other professional sports, brings out a different energy from competitors that was not seen in the regular season.

Stars under the spotlight, rubbing dirt in their injuries and leaving everything on the court. Jump in and get excited as the most elite basketball in the world is soon taking place, ultimately crowning one champion.

Both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference have exciting matchups with toss-up series’ that could go either way. Throughout this article, I will be providing my take on each matchup and deciding a winner based on different variables that play into the series.

Western Conference: Round 1

(1) Oklahoma City Thunder vs (8) New Orleans Pelicans

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Wikicommons)

In the long history of the NBA, an eight seed has only beaten a one seed in a playoff series six times. The last time it happened other than last year’s Miami Heat run was in 2012 when the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Chicago Bulls in game 6. This will not be the seventh time.

The OKC Thunder are the second youngest team in the NBA but have earned the one seed for a reason. Their star player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is one of three obvious frontrunners in MVP voting and had an amazing regular season, averaging 30.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.2 assists and tying for the league leader in steals.

In the regular season, the Thunder beat both the Pelicans and the Kings in four straight games and they will have the best player on the court in Gilgeous-Alexander. I can see the Thunder taking the series in six games, dropping two due to inexperience.

(2) Denver Nuggets vs (7) Los Angeles Lakers

Nikola Jokic (Wikicommons)

A rematch of last year’s series is set to be the same outcome as it was a year ago. In 2023, Denver swept the Lakers in the first round, dominating every game. This year the Nuggets are 3-0 against the Lakers in the regular season.

I believe the Lakers have looked better this year, with Anthony Davis playing a full season and key role players like Austin Reeves and D’Angelo Russell playing great basketball. That being said, Nikola Jokic is the best player on the court and the defending champs will take the series in five.

(3) Minnesota Timberwolves vs (6) Phoenix Suns

Devin Booker (Wikicommons)

This will be the first upset in the predictions as the Suns will take out the Timberwolves in a series that goes to game 7. The Timberwolves have looked great in the regular season with Anthony Edwards emerging as a top-10 talent in the league, but the shooting might not be enough compared to the Suns.

Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal are all high-level talent in the NBA and have years of experience behind them while Grayson Allen rounds out the starting lineup with the best 3-point percentage in the league this season. It will be close, but the Suns will squeak out a victory in the end led by the playoff scoring machine Durant.

(4) Los Angeles Clippers vs (5) Dallas Mavericks

Luka Doncic (Wikicommons)

The Mavericks will win this series in six games over the Clippers. Kawhi Leonard is a question mark to play and the Mavericks have added serious defensive help to their roster in the middle of the season by way of PJ Washington and Daniel Gafford.

Luka Doncic is another frontrunner in the race for MVP and has been averaging just under 34 points per game this season. The addition of Gafford brought elite rim protection for the Mavericks. Players like James Harden and Paul George have been known to play below their capabilities at times in the playoffs and I can see this being one such series.

Eastern Conference: Round 1

(1) Boston Celtics vs (8) Miami Heat

Jayson Tatum (Wikicommons)

The Boston Celtics have been the best team in the NBA this season going 64-18 in the regular season. The Celtics are truly a dominant force in the league with the most 3-pointers made and blocks per game. They are also top five in points per game, rebounds per game, and 3-point percentage.

Boston is the team to beat this year in the playoffs and it is certainly not going to happen in round one. They will sweep the series over the Heat, despite their triumphant victory over the Bulls Friday night.




(2) New York Knicks vs (7) Philadelphia 76ers

Joel Embiid (Wikicommons)

The Knicks have truly become a solidified team this year, breathing life back into the basketball fans of New York. Jalen Brunson was an All-Star and players like Josh Hart and Dante DiVincenzo have been great hustle players for them.

That being said, the 76ers are the hottest team in basketball since the return of former MVP Joel Embiid. They have won nine straight games and with Joel on the court, and are 32-8. With no one to guard Embiid and more star power on the 76ers, Philadelphia wins the series in five games.

(3) Milwaukee Bucks vs (6) Indiana Pacers

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Wikicommons)

The Bucks have not looked their best this season, especially since the acquisition of Damian Lillard. Doc Rivers has not been the answer coaching for the Bucks either, going 17-19 since being hired midseason. The Pacers on the other hand have been an electric franchise this season with Tyrese Haliburton being the star player and an elite excellent facilitator.

But, this is the playoffs, and players seem to bring out their best performances during this time. With Giannis Antetokounmpo being unstoppable and Milwaukee having a large size advantage, the Bucks will win the series in a tightly contested six-game series.

(4) Cleveland Cavaliers vs (5) Orlando Magic

Donovan Mitchell (Wikicommons)

The Orlando Magic are nasty defensively, ranking third across the entire NBA. They rank second in turnover percentage and points scored off of turnovers. Amidst their good defense though is a bad offense, ranking 26th in the league in terms of scoring.

The Cavs play great defense as well so this is going to be a series decided by who can create the most offense. In this case, it will be the Cavs with great shooters like Donovan Mitchell who is a dynamic scorer and will show up in big games. The Cavs will win the series in the full seven games.

Western Conference: Round 2

(1) Oklahoma City Thunder vs (5) Dallas Mavericks

This series will expose the inexperience of the Thunder as the Mavericks will win in six games. The Thunder have been a great team but they are young, which will give the advantage to players like Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving who have played in big games countless times throughout their careers.

(2) Denver Nuggets vs (6) Pheonix Suns

Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets will be too much for the Suns to handle just like last year. The Nuggets beat the Suns in the second round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs 4-2, and I can see it happening this year in even fewer games. Nuggets win in game 5.

Eastern Conference: Round 2

(1) Boston Celtics vs (4) Cleveland Cavaliers

Much like the first round for Boston, this will not be a challenging series. The Cavs are a good squad, but the offensive capabilities the Celtics have are going to crush the Cavs’ strong defense. The Celtics will sweep the series, 4-0.

(3) Milwaukee Bucks vs (7) Philadelphia 76ers

As stated before, the Bucks were able to beat the Pacers with size but the 76ers match up with them pretty well. With all of the problems the Bucks have had this season and the coaching advantage going to the Sixers with Nick Nurse, the 76ers will win the series in six games.

Western Conference Finals:

(2) Denver Nuggets vs (5) Dallas Mavericks

A matchup for the ages will take place in the Western Conference Finals as Luka Doncic vs Nikola Jokic will take place. This will be an offensive shootout and the series will come down to which team can stop the others star player better. Doncic will put up a fight and take the series to seven games, but the Nuggets will head back to the finals.

Eastern Conference Finals:

(1) Boston Celtics vs (7) Philadelphia 76ers

The Celtics have been the best team over the course of the entire season, but the team with the hot hand right now is the 76ers. These teams met last year with an unhealthy Embiid and the series went to seven games. Joel Embiid is healthy and this year, Philadelphia will be heading to the finals for the first time since 2001. 76ers in game seven.

NBA Finals:

Denver Nuggets vs Philadelphia 76ers

A true heavyweight brawl as the two best centers in the NBA square off against each other. In the matchup history Jokic has had a hard time guarding Embiid when he’s active. That being said, the Nuggets have an overall better roster and facilitator with Jokic so it will be and exciting matchup. Embiid will be too dominant of a scorer though and the Philadelphia 76ers will win the championship in a game 7 for the ages.

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