Driscoll’s NBA Conference Finals Predictions

Celtics Heat

The second round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs came to a close on Sunday, and it was absolutely wild. All four of the series were at least six games, and one of them went seven. The best thing about the remaining teams is that there is no overwhelming favorite. Even though there is one No. 7 and one No. 8 seed, they are much better than what their record indicates.

With this being said, here are my predictions.

Western Conference Finals: No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 1 Denver Nuggets

A rematch of the 2020 Western Conference Finals. Although many people are going back to this series for reference when making their predictions, they are both completely different teams. 

Many people (including myself) counted out the Lakers completely before the trade deadline, but general manager Rob Pelinka deserves a ton of credit; he completely revamped the roster and replaced most of their weaknesses with strengths. D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura have been huge for L.A. Not only did their roster completely change, but the guys who were already on the team improved as well. The leap from Austin Reaves has been essential to the Lakers’ success. And this goes without saying, but you can never count out a healthy LeBron James and Anthony Davis duo in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets were probably the most consistent team in the regular season, and that has continued in the playoffs. The narrative that “Nikola Jokic is great but he can’t do it in the playoffs” is officially dead. He has been quietly the best player throughout the playoffs. He does not deserve all the credit, though. Jamal Murray is playing his best basketball since the bubble. Other players like Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are not necessarily filling up the stat sheet but still doing everything they need for the Nuggets to win.

Both of these teams have just as good of a case to win this series as the other. If the Lakers want to win, they will probably have to do what they did best in 2020: attack the rim with the James and Davis pick-and-roll. Though Jokic is underrated against the pick-and-roll, defending it against James and Davis is a whole different two-headed monster. Jokic, James, and Davis will each get their own, but it will come down to which role players step up. I believe the X Factor will be how Michael Porter Jr. plays. He has all the talent in the world, but his main issue is consistency. With this all being said, I trust teams that have been most consistent all year long late in the playoffs.

Prediction: Nuggets in 7

Eastern Conference Finals: No. 8 Miami Heat vs. No. 1 Boston Celtics

The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics are meeting in the Eastern Conference Finals once again. This is the second year in a row and the third time in four years. Though there have been some changes to each roster, the cores are very similar to years past.

The Heat continue to shock the world. After upsetting the first-seeded Bucks in Round 1, they continued on this Cinderella run by beating the Knicks in the second round. One thing that everyone agrees on now is that you can never count out Playoff Jimmy Butler. In a big game, I do not think there are more than five players you want on your team than Jimmy Butler. 

While the absence of Tyler Herro has made things harder on the offensive end, Miami has still been super solid, largely thanks to Butler. Though they are not as great on defense as they were last year, Bam Adebayo is known to step it up come playoff time and he only gets better in the later rounds. It has, however, not only been the two main guys. Max Straus, Gabe Vincent, and Kevin Love have all been playing their roles fantastically.

This is the fifth time in the last seven years that the Celtics are in the Eastern Conference Finals. Three of those have been with the Celtics’ Core Four of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Al Horford. All four of these guys know their roles and what to do in big moments. 

Tatum can get a bucket when he wants, Brown steps it up when Tatum is struggling, Smart has turned into an elite playmaker while being one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, and Horford shoots threes at a super high level for a big man while also playing great defense. If they want to win this series, it will also take contributions from Derrick While, Malcolm Brogdon, and Robert Williams III on both ends of the floor. 

Though the cores for both teams are the same for the most part, they are both pretty different in some ways, so you should not use last year or 2020 to evaluate your predictions. With the absence of Tyler Herro, it is pretty obvious that the Celtics have a better roster from top to bottom, but it is far more than that. The main advantage that the Heat have is coaching. Erik Spoelstra has been one of the best coaches in the league for years now, and even though Joe Mazzula is a far better coach than a lot of people give him credit for, he is still a rookie. 

It very well might come down to Butler and Adebayo vs. Tatum and Brown. However, I think it will come down to the role players. The Celtics’ roster has more experience playing together in big games and that gives them the edge in this series, even though it will be hard fought every night.

Prediction: Celtics in 6


All four of these teams have played fantastic basketball in these playoffs and each of them has a great case to win the finals. Both of these series will show a whole lot about each team and how well they can handle adversity.

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