NBA playoff predictions: Bracket picks & 2023 Finals champion

With the postseason underway, it’s time to check in on our latest NBA playoff predictions for 2022-’23.

The Denver Nuggets are looking to secure the organization’s first NBA Finals trophy after shockingly sweeping LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals. Will Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets be too hard to beat?

Meanwhile, there is another storyline that has been taking the league by storm. Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat became the sixth team in NBA History to beat a No. 1 seed as a No. 8 seed. Then, the Heat became the second No. 8 seed to ever make the NBA Finals. Will Playoff Jimmy and Miami become the first No. 8 seed to ever win a championship?

Below, we give you our NBA playoff predictions for the 2022-23 campaign with updates throughout the season.

Stay ahead in the NBA Playoffs game! Get the latest news, hot gossip, top-tier lists, and in-depth analysis – click now!

Eastern Conference NBA playoff predictions and seeds

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks
Apr 23, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) reacts after making a long three-point shot against the Atlanta Hawks during the second half during game four of the 2023 NBA playoffs at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Milwaukee Bucks (58-24)
  2. Boston Celtics (57-25)
  3. Philadelphia 76ers (54-28)
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31)
  5. New York Knicks (47-35)
  6. Brooklyn Nets (45-37)
  7. Atlanta Hawks (41-41): Play-in
  8. Miami Heat (44-38): Play-in

The Bucks were one of the best teams over the course of the 2022-23 season but an injury to Giannis Antentokoumpo and Butler’s lethal play have knocked them out of contention. It is one of the biggest upsets in NBA History and there will undoubtedly be changes on the way to both the roster and coaching staff. For now, it will be a “what if” story for Milwaukee when it relates to the 2023 playoffs but this could be a wake-up call.

The Celtics had an opportunity to make history by becoming the first NBA team to ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit but fell flat on their face in Game 7. It was a disappointing end to the 2022-23 season that saw them lose to a No. 8 seed like two other teams in the Eastern Conference. The major story of Boston’s offseason will be Jaylen Brown and whether he returns to the team or the Celtics decide to blow up their young duo.

Philadelphia fell short of the Celtics and it was certainly disappointing in the way it happened. The 76ers had a 3-2 series lead and should’ve closed out Game 6 in Philadelphia but a major fourth-quarter collapse ended that possibility. Then, they got destroyed in Game 7 in Boston. The 76ers have a murky future as head coach Doc Rivers and guard James Harden might not be with the team next year.

The Knicks entered the semifinals with a great shot at making the next round but the Heat took them down in six games. It was a disappointing end to the season for New York but one it should be proud of when looking back. The team beat the Cavaliers and proved it belongs. Plus, guard Jalen Brunson looks like a playoff star. Now, the next steps are going to be surrounding Brunson with more talent.

What else is there to say about Butler and the Heat? No one expected them to beat the Bucks but it was even more than that as it was accomplished in five games. Then, the team took down the Knicks in six games despite Butler’s ankle injury. The Celtics were their toughest challenge as they almost blew a 3-0 series lead before crushing them in Boston during Game 7. Now, the Heat’s magical run faces The Joker, who has bad blood with the team.

As for non-playoff teams, the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls stand out in the crowd. Both teams did not win two straight games to have a chance at making the postseason. The Raptors and Bulls both represent teams with talent that are not shown by the record due to struggles over the season. Neither of these teams put it together and did not reach our NBA playoff predictions.

Western Conference NBA playoff predictions and seeds

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets
Feb 7, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) controls the ball in the first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Denver Nuggets (53-29)
  2. Memphis Grizzlies (51-31)
  3. Sacramento Kings (48-34)
  4. Phoenix Suns (45-37)
  5. Los Angeles Clippers (44-38)
  6. Golden State Warriors (44-38)
  7. Los Angeles Lakers (43-39): Play-in
  8. Minnesota Timberwolves (42-40): Play-in

The Nuggets entered the Western Conference Finals with something to prove and did just that. Denver had been eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers during the Bubble in the 2020 Western Conference finals but then swept them three years later. Nikola Jokic looks like the best player in the world as the team appears to be a well-oiled machine. Now, a date with Boston or Miami awaits as they enjoy a lengthy amount of time off.

The Grizzlies found themselves down 3-1 against the Lakers but bounced back for a victory in Game 5. It was a true must-win scenario but Ja Morant and Memphis could not knock off Los Angeles in a dominant Game 6 performance. It was a disappointing end for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference but this young Grizzlies team will not go away. They will look to make improvements this offseason to make a jump.

Golden State just couldn’t put it together as James and the Lakers took down the team in six games. The Warriors didn’t have the same energy and chemistry as last season when they won the NBA Finals as they had no answer for Anthony Davis. The Game 4 performance of Lakers guard Lonnie Walker ended up being the deciding factor in the series. It will be interesting to see if the core three of Golden State’s dynasty stick together or not.

Stay ahead in the NBA Playoffs game! Get the latest news, hot gossip, top-tier lists, and in-depth analysis – click now!

The Clippers did all they could to stop Devin Booker and Kevin Durant but it simply was not enough. Paul George missed the entire series while Kawhi Leonard tore his meniscus and missed the rest of the way. It was looking to be a classic but there were too many injuries for Los Angeles to overcome. The Clippers face major decisions with their roster if they want to make it to the Finals in our NBA playoff predictions next season.

Phoenix did not have it easy against the Nuggets after being destroyed in Game 6 at home…again. This is the second straight year that the Suns were simply blown out in an elimination game in Phoenix. The addition of Kevin Durant ended up being costly as it killed the depth with injuries making it even worse. The Suns will be a threat next season but they need to build the roster around Durant and Devin Booker.

As for non-playoff teams, the New Orleans Pelicans have a really talented lineup; however, the injuries and necessity of winning two straight games were too much to overcome. The Oklahoma City Thunder are also in this grouping after a second-half surge. But for now, they did not continue their momentum in the Play-In Tournament to reach our NBA playoff predictions this season.

Related: Get All The Latest NBA News On Sportsnaut

NBA playoff predictions: Matchups and winners

2023 NBA Finals predictions: Denver Nuggets over Miami Heat (4-1)

NBA playoff predictions
Feb 13, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) dribbles the basketball ahead of Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) and forward Vlatko Cancar (31) during the second quarter at Miami-Dade Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on and is republished here with permission.

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