NBA Predictions: Expert Picks NBA Playoff Round 2 As East-West Matchups Are Torn

After the Celtics’ Game 6 clinch over the Hawks on Thursday, the second round of the 2023 NBA playoffs has ended three of four games. Bad news out East: Joel Embiid may not be ready to play in the No. 3 76ers’ series against the No. 2 Celtics because of a sprained knee, and Julius Randle isn’t sure he’ll be ready to play for the No. 5 Knicks. ‘ series opener against the No. 4 Heat, rekindling a long-standing rivalry.

In the West, we know the No. 1 Nuggets will face off against the No. 4 Suns in their Game 6, while the Grizzlies and Lakers will face No. 7 and No. 3 and the Warriors will face off against No. 6 . on Friday night as they work to decide who will meet in the second round.

Below are our staff picks for each

Reuter’s Choice: Knicks in 6: The Heat’s sudden rediscovery of its scoring prowess isn’t in effect, and Jimmy Butler, as extraordinary as he has been in the postseason, can’t lead Miami to four wins. That’s partly because the Knicks suddenly rediscovered their defense — even after a mediocre regular season on the defensive side, this is Tom Thibodeau’s team. Jalen Brunson, much to our confusion, is indeed a star, Mitchell Robinson is a legitimate presence on the board, RJ Barrett can be a game-changer, and Josh Hart is a secret ingredient.

Botkin’s choice: Knicks in 6: I won’t bet on Miami’s 3-point shooting to last, and I think New York has more ways to spark offense. Mitchell Robinson’s offensive rebounding could be a huge factor in a tight matchup.

Herbert’s Choice: Heat in 6. The Heat can’t rely on shooting as well as they did in the first round, but their approach should be the same, and I don’t think I’ll doubt Jimmy Butler (or Erik Spoelstra). right now. While the Knicks could have some success looking for matchups, it’s hard to imagine them owning the tables like they did against Cleveland.

Ward Henninger’s Choice: Game 7: Jimmy Butler, Jimmy Butler, Jimmy Butler. The Knicks are a great story and have the toughness to match Miami, but as great as Jalen Brunson has been, the Heat are still the best player in the series. Not to mention Miami’s advantage in deep playoff experience and the confidence they’re riding after demoralizing the top-seeded Bucks.

Kaskey-Blomain selection: Heat in 6: This series will be a battle between two teams that can then get on defense and break up the game. The Heat, however, have more postseason experience and have franchise MVP Jimmy Butler, who took his game to another level in the first round. As a result, they have an advantage.

Maloney’s Choice: Knicks in 6: What Jimmy Butler did in the first round was remarkable, but the Heat needed a Giannis injury, some unsustainable shooting and two massive fourth-quarter meltdowns to win this series. Not sure they can keep it up, especially against a stubborn Knicks defense led by Butler’s former coach, Tom Thibodeau.

Quinn’s Choice: Knicks 7: Jimmy Butler is averaging 38.5 points per game in his last seven playoff games. I’m pretty sure it’s not sustainable. Milwaukee played a conservative downfield against him. Tom Thibodeau will become much more aggressive. The Heat shot 34.4% from deep in the regular season, but are up to 45% in the playoffs. This series screams regression, even if Julius Randle is twisted.

Wimbsh’s choice: Game 6: In the playoffs, Jimmy Butler is back! Missing Tyler Herro will hurt Miami more in this series, but there is a possibility that Julius Randle could be hurt to start the Knicks streak, and that seems like a bigger loss. I trust Miami, who will definitely be low scoring.

Reuter’s Choice: Celtics 5: Embiid gets hit. The Sixers are soft. And the Celtics, despite a surprisingly tough series against Atlanta, are arguably the best team in the East. Boston boasts a top-three offensive and defensive rating, historically the hallmark of potential champions. And their experience, depth and star power from last year’s Finals trumps Philly.

Botkin’s choice: Celtics 5: When the Celtics are committed to offense and moving on offense, they are a better team on both sides of the ball than the Sixers. They’re more versatile, deeper, and have a lot more opportunities to create a consistent half-court offense. That’s even before I factor in Joel Embiid’s knee situation.

Herbert’s Choice: The Celtics 6 in Boston are deeper, more balanced and more athletic than the Sixers. It has more lineup flexibility, more scheme versatility and more playmaking options. The big, game-changing asset Philadelphia has is Joel Embiid … but he’s dealing with a sprained LCL. If he’s not himself, oh-oh.

Ward Henninger’s Choice: Celtics 5: Joel Embiid scored 52 points in the Sixers’ only win over Boston during the regular season, and I bet he won’t be able to do that in four games in this series while on his feet. I don’t believe James Harden will slack off, and the Celtics have done a good job of limiting Tyreese Maxey and Tobias Harris while their own role players are thriving. Unless Embiid is healthier than I expected, this will be a short streak.

Kaskey-Blomain selection: 76ers in 7: I might regret this pick, but I’m going with Philly in this series, mostly due to the presence of Joel Embiid. He’ll draw a lot of attention from Boston, and Philadelphia improved the roster around them, so now there are other guys who can take advantage of that. If Embiid isn’t at full strength, things will go in Boston’s favor, but if he can play at the level he’s been playing all season, he’ll be a difference maker.

Maloney’s Choice: Celtics 6: The Celtics are deeper, more athletic, shoot more 3s and have home court advantage. This game already favored the Celtics, and now Joel Embiid will be operating at less than 100 percent, which cuts the Sixers’ lead to one. Give me the Celtics here.

Quinn’s Choice: Celtics 7: I feel a little sad watching Boston’s defense crumble against Trae Young, but James Harden in his current state is not Trae Young. If Joel Embiid were healthy, it might be a different story, but without their usually dominant pick-and-roll, I just can’t trust Philadelphia to score enough to keep up with a Boston team that shoots this well.

Wimbsh’s choice: Celtics 6: Joel Embiid’s injury is a concern, and simply put, if he’s anything less than 100%, then the Sixers are in trouble. Based on that alone, I choose Boston.

Reuter’s Choice: Dog in 7: This is a series of question marks. Can Denver’s inconsistent defense slide enough to confuse the Suns at times? Is Denver ready for a breakthrough — can Nikola Jokic dominate, can Jamal Murray be a star, can Michael Porter Jr. provide a solid offensive barrage for a game or two? Will Kevin Durant’s short time in Phoenix and the unfinished business that is team chemistry short-circuit the talent of this entire team? Will Devin Booker continue his playoff greatness? Best guess is that the Suns’ talent is just having a great time in Denver together.

Botkin’s choice: Nuggets in 7: When the Kevin Durant trade was made, I had the Suns as the title favorite. I’ll get back to it. I think they lose the math game against Denver, which is loaded with 3-point shooters and full guard Jamal Murray. Dog, as great as their midrange triumvirate is, won’t get enough 2s to keep up.

Herbert’s Choice: Suns in 7. There is nothing meaningful to take away from the regular season series and the only thing I feel comfortable predicting is that tons of points will be scored. I like Denver’s offensive system a lot more than Phoenix’s right now, but I’m leaning ever so slightly towards the Suns finding a more reliable two-way formula as the series goes on.

Ward Henninger’s Choice: Suns in 6: No one can stop Nikola Jokic, but Deandre Ayton has done a decent job of containing him in the past. But mostly, this prediction is a bet that Denver’s defense won’t be able to stop Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Chris Paul in 4 of 6 games. The Suns will have their struggles with defense and depth, but I have to ride the best scoring talent.

Kaskey-Blomain selection: Suns in 7: This should be an entertaining, high-scoring series, but in the end I’m going with Phoenix, mostly because of Kevin Durant, who is the most proven playoff performer on either side of the series. Also, Devin Booker has been playing outstanding basketball so far this postseason, and while Denver is talented, it will be difficult for them to keep up with the output of these two superstars.

Maloney’s Choice: Nuggets in 7: When the Suns’ offense starts to click, it’s a sight to behold, and Kevin Durant and Devin Booker will win them multiple games in this series. But their lack of picks outside of the top four is a major concern, and their inability to slow down the Clippers in the first round despite injuries to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George doesn’t bode well for this streak. Ultimately, I think the Nuggets’ depth and willingness to shoot more 3s will be the difference in what the shooting numbers are.

Quinn’s Choice: Nuggets in 7: A more experienced group together might have better answers to the glaring defensive deficiencies, but if Torrey Craig hadn’t shot 55.6% from 3 in the first round, Phoenix might be battling the Clippers right now. The Suns simply offer too many safe spots on defense between Craig, Josh Okogie and even Chris Paul, who teams have been asking to shoot lately. A year from now, this series might be more interesting. For now, bet on experience.

Wimbsh’s choice: Suns in 7: This is a really entertaining series, but I prefer Suns. Even if the Nuggets are able to contain Devin Booker, who has been out of his mind in the postseason, Kevin Durant still has things to worry about.

#NBA #Predictions #Expert #Picks #NBA #Playoff #EastWest #Matchups #Torn

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