A combined 115 regular season wins over the past two seasons, a franchise-best 64-18 this past season, the NBA’s best road team record-wise in each of the past two seasons, a 2021-22 road record that was better than the home record of each of the 29 other NBA teams and no NBA championship to show for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the two-year body of work for the Phoenix Suns, whose recent game ended in a Game 7 elimination loss against the Dallas Mavericks, by the score of 123-90. It was a game that Monty Williams’ bunch never led, were down by as many as 46 points during one stretch and will be the reason why I won’t tuning into the rest of the 2022 NBA Playoffs. And that’s okay, because most of my remaining 16 jot down sessions for Saved By The Bell: The College Years coincide with most of the NBA Conference Finals schedule. Plus, the last of those 16 jot down sessions will be occurring on the eve of the 2022 NBA Finals. And given how I want that last one to sink in on the day (June 2) of those aforementioned NBA Finals, I’ll be skipping Game 1 for sure. Plus, since the Suns (my team) are no longer in the Playoffs, I’ll obviously skip the rest of the last round as well, which is something that I mostly alluded to in the third sentence of this paragraph.
However, I still have a professional obligation to predict winners for each of the Conference Finals matchups, so might as well uphold that end of the deal via the bullet points and bold text below:
- #2 Boston Celtics Vs. #1 Miami Heat-Three-point shooting, defense and Jayson Tatum’s superstardom have the Celtics in the Conference Finals for the fourth time in six years, as those were among three of the components that helped the 17-time NBA champions dethrone the 2020-21 NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks in seven games. As for the Heat, they were able to overcome the Sixers and the return of Joel Embiid to advance to the Conference Finals for the second time in three seasons via doing so in six games. Jimmy Butler was sensational in the Second Round, as he averaged 27.5 points per game in that six-game series. However, the East’s number one seed was minus Kyle Lowry for most of that series and should he return for this series, then the Celtics will go right at him on Miami’s defensive end of the floor to see how effective that he can really be over the course of it. The Celtics are the healthier team in this series and they’re a way more versatile opponent for the Heat than the Sixers were. So with both of those factors being said, I have the Celtics winning the Eastern Conference Finals in six games.
- #4 Dallas Mavericks Vs. #3 Golden State Warriors-The best player going in these NBA Playoffs right now is Luka Doncic via his 31.5 points per game in the 10 postseason games that he’s played in this season. Plus, he’s an excellent passer with his near seven assists per game in those same 10 games. And of course, he’s the biggest reason that the Mavericks are in the Conference Finals for the first time since 2011, the year that they won their only NBA championship. As for the Warriors, they are in the Conference Finals for the sixth time in the Steve Kerr era after they outlasted the physical Memphis Grizzlies in six games. Now they look for a sixth trip to the NBA Finals in as many attempts. Of course, I’ve mentioned in more than one entry that the Warriors still haven’t lost against a Western Conference opponent in a seven-game series during the Steve Kerr era. And while I think the Warriors are the more versatile of these two teams, I don’t think that they have anyone on their roster that can stop Luka Doncic. So with that being said, I have the Mavericks continuing their improbable playoff run with a series victory over the Warriors in six games.
Yes, I am predicting a Celtics-Mavericks NBA Finals. And should that be the matchup, then Game 1 will open in Dallas, as the Mavericks finished one game better than the Celtics during the regular season. Tune in sometime between now and June 2 to my prediction for the official 2022 NBA Finals matchup. So long for now, everybody!