NBA Playoffs: First Round Recap + Bracket Predictions


Riley Lose, Staff Writer

NBA Playoffs: First Round Recap + Bracket Predictions 

The NBA Playoffs are underway with the usual high stakes, high intensity gameplay which fans adore. 16 teams enter the playoffs, but only 1 can leave as the NBA Finals Champions. Who will take home the trophy this year? 

First Round Recap 

Eastern Conference: 

One of the most surprising developments in the first round was the Celtics sweep over the Nets. The Nets entered the playoffs as the 7th seed but were highly regarded as a powerhouse with superstars like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Andre Drummond. Even with their stacked roster, Jayson Tatum was able to lead the Celtics to a 4-0 sweep, advancing them to the second round against the Bucks who were able to defeat the Bulls in 5 games, taking the series 4-1. The Bucks were the favorites to win the series, but the dominance which the Bucks showed without their star forward, Khris Middleton, was truly a sight to behold.  

The 1st seed in the East, the Miami Heat, were able to close out the series against the hawks. The Heat’s ability to contain Trae Young throughout the series and held him to a record low playoff series scoring. The Heat were able to display their top-tier defense which has led them to the 1st seed in the East. The Heat will face off against the Philadelphia 76ers who were able to close out the series against the Toronto Raptors. Joel Embiid of the 76ers was able to get revenge on the Raptors who had eliminated the 76ers from the playoffs in 2019 after a heartbreaking buzzer beater from Kawhi Leonard.  

Western Conference: 

The Pheonix Suns despite losing their star guard, Devin Booker, for most of the series was able to overcome the odds and defeat the New Orleans Pelicans in 6 games. Chris Paul proved that he is able to step up and be a leader for the Suns when necessary. The Suns will go on to play the Dallas Mavericks in the Conference Semifinals. The Mavericks had a successful series against the Utah Jazz who have been having internal struggles between stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. A recent dispute has shown Rudy Gobert giving the Jazz front office an ultimatum, stating that they must choose between Gobert and Mitchell.  


The Golden State Warriors showed dominance in their series against the Denver Nuggets. The new Warriors squad of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole, and Draymond Green were able to prove that they are still a championship contender and should be regarded as such. The Splash Brothers’ reunion was a sight to behold as 3 pointers rained down for the Warriors. MVP candidate Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets was able to put up some impressive stat lines, but ultimately could not carry the Nuggets to win the series. The Warriors advance to the Conference Semifinals where they go up against the Memphis Grizzlies. Ja Morant along with Desmond Bane were able to win a heated series against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Grizzlies are a swiftly improving team that have several young players with limitless potential.  



Bracket Predictions 

Based on the performances of these teams during the regular season, I have created a bracket prediction. Of course, the playoffs can be unpredictable, so take my predictions with a grain of salt. 

Western Conference: 

The 4 matchups in the West are the Suns (1) vs. Pelicans (8), Mavericks (4) vs. Jazz (5), Warriors (3) vs. Nuggets (6), and Grizzlies (2) vs. Timberwolves (7). 

My predictions for the Western Conference are: 

1st Round: 

The Suns defeat the Pelicans 4-2 

The Jazz defeat the Mavericks 4-3 

The Warriors defeat the Nuggets 4-1 

The Grizzlies defeat the Timberwolves 4-2 

2nd Round: 

The Suns defeat the Jazz 4-1 

The Warriors defeat the Grizzlies 4-3 

3rd Round: 

The Warriors defeat the Suns 4-3 


Eastern Conference: 

The 4 matchups in the East are the Heat (1) vs. Hawks (8), 76ers (4) vs. Raptors (5), Bucks (3) vs. Bulls (6), and Celtics (2) vs. Nets (7).  

My predictions for the Eastern Conference are: 

1st Round: 

The Heat defeat the Hawks 4-0 

The 76ers defeat the Raptors 4-0 

The Bucks defeat the Bulls 4-2 

The Celtics defeat the Nets 4-0 

2nd Round: 

The Heat defeat the 76ers 4-2 

The Celtics defeat the Bucks 4-3 

3rd Round 

The Heat defeat the Bucks 4-2 


The Finals this year, I believe, will be the Miami Heat vs. The Golden State Warriors. In a heated series between 2 teams which are high-motor 2-way teams will be very close and intense. However, the defense of the Heat will overcome that of the Warriors and the Heat will take the NBA Finals in 7 games.