NBA News: Latest On The 2022 Playoffs
There’s never a dull moment in the NBA playoffs, and 2022 is no different. We’ve got star players taking the next leap, blockbuster teams heading home to think about what they’ve done wrong, and no pesky COVID-19 health and safety protocols forcing players to sit out of important games.
Here’s what is going on in the 2022 playoffs that you need to know about.
Latest NBA playoffs news
- Say whaaaaaat? Boston shocks NBA world by sweeping Brooklyn in epic first-round win
- Dallas in control with 3-2 lead over Utah, Luka back in action but Jazz’s Mitchell hurts hamstring
- Raptors stayin’ alive with statement win over Phili to make series 3-2
- Memphis vs. Minnesota keep both teams’ fans on edge with 2-2 split
- Miami looking to bounce pesky Hawks out of first round with 3-1 lead
- Pelicans make the most of Suns’ injury woes by tying series 2-2
- Milwaukee annihilate Bulls and hush up critics with commanding 3-1 lead
- Golden State stumble with recent loss to Denver but still look incredible with the series at 3-1
Celtics prove too much for hapless Nets in first-round sweep
It seems crazy to think that many people laughed at the Celtics for not losing a couple of regular-season games in order to avoid playing the title-favorite Nets in the first round. Well, just like Kyrie Irving to the Boston crowd, they gave the middle finger to that idea.
The Celtics were never, ever looking scared of the Brooklyn Nets and absolutely controlled the series from the first jump ball. Boston proved that staunch defense and looking for the open guy on offense was enough to sweep the Nets, after winning Game 4 on the road, 116-112.
Despite the referees seemingly determined to give the Nets a chance at getting a victory to keep the series alive, such as when Jayson Tatum and Goran Dragic just bumped into each other and somehow it was Tatum that was called for his sixth foul to leave the game. Or when Al Horford was positioning for a rebound and was given a phantom foul. The Celtics nevertheless beat the refs and the Nets for a huge win.
Every game of the Boston/Brooklyn series has been a nail-biter, but it was assumed that it would be a seven-game round for sure. Even the Celtics were probably surprised that it ended in a sweep. However, when you stop and think, it does make sense in the end.
The Celtics prevented Kevin Durant from getting easy shots, often forcing him to pass the ball to a teammate he really didn’t want to pass to, or making him chuck a Hail Mary that never had a chance. In Game 4, Durant played a whopping 47 minutes and did score 39 points, but this was from 13-31 shooting. Durant just looked uncomfortable from the Celts’ stifling defense that made life no fun on the court.
For the Celtics’ offense, it was more “sharing is caring,” as Tatum (29 points), Jaylen Brown (22), and Marcus Smart (20) all contributed to a victory that was all about finding the right guy at the right moment, without any Hero Ball that has come to define modern NBA superstars.
If the Bucks take care of the Bulls, which is likely, then the Celtics will next play the defending champions in what is poised to be a fascinating series. Boston hasn’t looked this good for a looooong time and has all the right elements, including the return of Robert “Time Lord” Williams from injury, to make a real championship run in the 2022 NBA playoffs.
So… the Brooklyn Nets, we need to talk.
Durant, no one can disagree, worked his tail off, so no fault there. Irving was pretty solid but missed a lot of the season due to his stance on the COVID-19 vaccination, so team chemistry was always going to be an issue. Also, a bit like the Lakers, the Nets roster looked good on paper but just didn’t cut it when crunch time arrived.
Then, of course, there’s the Harden for Simmons trade. This seemed good for both sides, but as Simmons didn’t play a single second for Brooklyn due to a herniated disk in his back forcing him to sit on the sidelines, one has to think whether the Nets should have held onto Harden.
It’s too late to know right now, but the Nets were just so undermanned, had terrible communication, and a roster that was too old and unreliable. This is the first time that Durant has ever been swept out of the playoffs, and it’s yet another golden chance missed for a team that had sky-high hopes, but didn’t deliver when it mattered.
5 takeaways from the Boston vs. Brooklyn series
- Durant on his own just isn’t enough to force a series win
- The Nets need Simmons ASAP
- Celtics play arguably the best team ball in the NBA
- Tatum is firmly in the top 10 players in the league now
- Patience is a virtue… Boston had been imploding in the regular season but is looking incredible
Predictions for the coming NBA playoff matchups
We’re getting real close (but not close enough for our tastes) to the second-round matchups, but even if the Celtics are awaiting their rivals in the next round, there are many more games to go.
Who should start packing their bags to go home
The Jazz will flame out of the playoffs yet again. They had one of the best chances in the world when Luka Doncic was out of the Mavs lineup, but Utah failed to capitalize. Now that Luka is back and looking as lethal as ever with the Mavs up 3-2, then Utah can say goodbye. The Jazz are a solid regular-season team and everyone always gets so excited for a playoff run, then reality sets in and we all remember that Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are good… but not elite.
The Nuggets had a lot of bad luck with season-long injuries to key players like Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., and as good as Nicola Jokic is, he can’t carry a team like this. It’s a real shame, because the Nuggets lineup has been of great fascination for a while, but the stars just don’t seem to align.
Once everyone is back healthy, we may have a different story, but Denver is going to be a “what if?” team for a long time.
Which series is a coin flip?
It’s got to be the Grizzlies vs. Timberwolves. Both teams make things pretty stressful for the fans, with unbelievably stupid mistakes that only young players can make. But there are moments of brilliance that balances everything out.
Towns against Morant is a battle of the next NBA superstar, and neither has failed to disappoint. Towns needs to be more assertive and demand the ball from his teammates, as when in rhythm, he’s a force to be reckoned with and can score from inside or outside at will. Morant is trusting his teammates a lot to deliver, but he needs to stop deferring and take over the game like we know he can.
The “could it really happen?” series
Can the Pelicans defeat the best team in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns? Things have fallen apart with the series at 2-2, and with the news that Suns’ star player, Devin Booker, won’t be in Game 5 makes things very spicy.
The Pelicans are perhaps the best underdog team at the moment, as nary a single person would have picked them to beat the red hot Suns. However, with Ingram and McCollum absolutely balling out and a team chemistry that is fizzing with life, the Pels (remember that Zion Williamson hasn’t played at all) theoretically have what it takes to defeat Phoenix two more times.
Will it actually happen? The Suns are well-coached by Monty Williams and still have Chris Paul plus a plethora of talented role players, so there’s no major concern here. They’ve played and won without Booker before, so things should be okay and they’ll progress to the next round.
Dream Finals matchup
So far, Boston looks the best out of the East, while the Warriors may well take the West. The contrast in playing styles is tantalizing to watch, as Boston loves to attack with a range of threes, drives to the hoop, and post-up shots. Whereas the Warriors just enjoy shooting from the outside with crazy talented players like Curry, Thompson, and Poole.
Even though the Warriors were only in the Finals in 2019 (losing to Toronto), it feels like it’s been long enough for the team to make a comeback. There’s no Durant this time around in the lineup, so it feels like the original Warriors that were dynamic to watch and a treat for the league.
Boston hasn’t reached the Finals since 2010, and for such a storied franchise, it would be a real pleasure to see the green and white uniforms back again. Tatum, Brown, and Smart are the Big 3 the team needs, and it feels like 2022 is their time.
Author: Joe Garland