NBA playoff predictions: Bracket picks & 2024 Finals champion

The 2022-’23 NBA season has reached its conclusion; however, it is never too early to look at the NBA playoff predictions for the upcoming year.

The Denver Nuggets are looking to go back-to-back after winning its first NBA Finals trophy against the Miami Heat. Will Nikola Jokic and Denver be able to repeat and become one of the most successful core groups in NBA history?

Meanwhile, there are other storylines that have been taking the league by storm. Jimmy Butler and the Heat are looking to redeem themselves as several organizations believe they will have a chance to claim the Eastern Conference in 2024. The conference is wide open but will the Heat be able to rebound and look for revenge against the Nuggets?

Below, we give you our NBA playoff predictions for the 2023-24 campaign with updates throughout the offseason.

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Eastern Conference NBA playoff predictions and seeds

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  1. Boston Celtics (55-27)
  2. Milwaukee Bucks (54-28)
  3. Miami Heat (51-31)
  4. Philadelphia 76ers (50-32)
  5. New York Knicks (48-34)
  6. Cleveland Cavaliers (46-35)
  7. Brooklyn Nets (43-39): Play-in
  8. Atlanta Hawks (42-40): Play-in

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. The major story of Boston’s offseason will be Jaylen Brown and whether he returns to the team or not. For now, they sit on top of our NBA playoff predictions in the Eastern Conference.

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 moving forward.

The Heat came up just short but it was nothing to be ashamed of for them. Miami became the first No. 8 seed in a non-lockout season to make the NBA Finals and lost to the league’s most lethal team. Now, the focus will be on trying to return to the championship and finding a way to make the next step. Will Butler and Adebayo be able to carry the Heat back to the NBA Finals or do they need help? If so, could Damian Lillard be the answer or will smaller moves prove efficient?

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 new face in town with Nick Nurse as the head coach and inevitable player movement on the way. Will James Harden return and if not, how will it affect them in our NBA playoff predictions?

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 and making sure his playoff success is maximized.

As for non-playoff teams, the Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic stand out in the crowd. The Bulls have the talent to get it done but can they put it together on the floor? Meanwhile, the Magic are predicted to show major improvement with Paolo Bancero but it might not be enough to surpass the Brooklyn Nets or Atlanta Hawks. Neither of these teams will put it together and reach our NBA playoff predictions as of right now.

Western Conference NBA playoff predictions and seeds

NBA: Playoffs-Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets
May 9, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) b in the first quarter during game five of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Denver Nuggets (57-25)
  2. Phoenix Suns (53-29)
  3. Golden State Warriors (50-32)
  4. Sacramento Kings (48-34)
  5. Los Angeles Lakers (47-35)
  6. Dallas Mavericks (45-37)
  7. Los Angeles Clippers (44-38): Play-in
  8. Memphis Grizzlies (43-39): Play-in

The Nuggets won the 2023 NBA Finals and there are plenty of reasons to believe this is not a one-hit wonder. Denver has the majority of its team under contract with the startling lineup set to return next year. Jokic is the best player in the NBA while Jamal Murray proved he is still a force to be reckoned with in the league. Still, the Nuggets will likely make some improvements overall. It will be interesting to see how the team returns for the 2023-’24 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 correctly build the roster around Durant and Devin Booker to make sure it takes place.

Golden State just couldn’t put it together as LeBron 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.

The Lakers did all they could to stop Jokic and the Nuggets but it simply was not enough. Los Angeles was sent home in a four-game sweep but the playoffs were not a failure. The team went from the play-in tournament to the Western Conference finals and lost to the eventual champions. Now, the goal will be surrounding James with enough talent to make a run at Denver next season. Could a star point guard be the next step to climb our NBA playoff predictions next season?

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 and it will be hard to bounce back. Morant is facing a lengthy suspension and it will undoubtedly hurt their chances during the regular season and our NBA playoff predictions.

As for non-playoff teams, the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder have really talented lineups but it all depends on their development. The Pelicans is an elite team with a healthy Zion Williamson but will he stay away from the injuries? Oklahoma City is also a rising organization with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leading the way; however, it may be a little too early to compete with the top guns in our NBA playoff predictions.

Related: Get All The Latest NBA News On Sportsnaut

NBA playoff predictions: Matchups and winners

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Miami Heat
May 27, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) controls the ball against Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent (2) in the fourth quarter during game six of the Eastern Conference Finals for the 2023 NBA playoffs at Kaseya Center. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Eastern Conference first round

  • No. 1 Boston Celtics over No. 8 Atlanta Hawks (4-1)
  • No. 4 Philadelphia 76ers over No. 5 New York Knicks (4-2)
  • No. 3 Miami Heat over No. 6 Cleveland Cavaliers (4-2)
  • No. 2 Milwaukee Bucks over No. 7 Brooklyn Nets (4-1)

Western Conference first round

  • No. 1 Denver Nuggets over No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies (4-0)
  • No. 5 Los Angles Lakers over No. 4 Sacramento Kings (4-3)
  • No. 3 Golden State Warriors over No. 6 Dallas Mavericks (4-2)
  • No. 2 Phoenix Suns over No. 7 Los Angles Clippers (4-1)

NBA playoff predictions: Conference semifinals

NBA: Playoffs-Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Clippers
Apr 22, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) reacts after forward Kevin Durant (35) scores a three point basket against the Los Angeles Clippers during the second half in game four of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Eastern Conference semifinals

  • No. 1 Boston Celtics over No. 4 Philadelphia 76ers (4-2)
  • No. 2 Milwaukee Bucks over No. 3 Miami Heat (4-3)

Western Conference semifinals

  • No. 1 Denver Nuggets over No. 5 Los Angles Lakers (4-1)
  • No. 2 Phoenix Suns over No. 3 Golden State Warriors (4-2)

NBA playoff predictions: Conference finals

NBA: Finals-Denver Nuggets at Miami Heat
Jun 9, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) shoots the ball against Miami Heat guard Max Strus (31) during the first quarter in game four of the 2023 NBA Finals at Kaseya Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Eastern Conference conference finals

  • No. 1 Boston Celtics over No. 2 Milwaukee Bucks (4-3)

Western Conference conference finals

  • No. 1 Denver Nuggets over No. 2 Phoenix Suns (4-3)

2024 NBA Finals predictions: Denver Nuggets over Boston Celtics (4-3)

NBA playoff predictions
Jan 1, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) during the second half at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

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

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