Previews & predictions for 2023 Conference Finals

Now that the tables are set, and we know who’s going to play, we can go ahead and make our NBA Conference Finals predictions 2023. Of course, it will be easier said than done, as it feels like the Larry O’Brien trophy is up for grabs now more than ever.

 NBA Conference Finals predictions 2023

The playoffs have been one for the ages. The reigning NBA champions Golden State Warriors lost to a Western Conference team for the first time since Steve Kerr took over. They also failed to win a road game for the first time in 27 straight playoff series, and some argue this could be the end of their dynasty.

The Milwaukee Bucks entered the playoffs with the best record in the Association, yet they could only take one game away from the eighth-seeded Miami Heat. Jimmy Butler had one of the best NBA Playoff games of all-time, and he’s been the best player throughout the course of the postseason by a very long stretch.

The Phoenix Suns fell short of their goal — again. Trading for Kevin Durant was great on paper, but they were left with no depth, and Chris Paul‘s injury took a big toll on their offense, making it stagnant and predictable. Durant wasn’t as efficient as he usually is, and Deandre Ayton‘s effort — or lack thereof — was borderline embarrassing.

So, we now have four teams with a strong chance of getting the job done, and it’s hard to envision one being better than the other, regardless of what the records might say. That makes our NBA Conference Finals predictions 2023 quite complicated, but we’ll give it our best to give you our objective and well-rounded picks for these two long-awaited series and rematches from the NBA bubble in Orlando.

Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers

Nikola Jokic was the best player in the league this season, and it wasn’t even close. It was somewhat odd to see voters giving Joel Embiid the MVP despite the fact that Jokic led him in most advanced stats, not to mention the fact that he led the Denver Nuggets to the best record in the Western Conference and was close to becoming the first center to average a triple-double for a full season.

The Nuggets reaffirmed their status as contenders by easily manhandling the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round and then locking Kevin Durant up in the second round. Durant couldn’t be as efficient as he usually is, and they excelled on both ends of the floor, executing well down the stretch and proving why they should be the team to beat right now.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown are two elite perimeter defenders, and Aaron Gordon can also lock everybody up in the low post. Jamal Murray has always been an elite playoff performer and Michael Porter Jr. is a versatile scorer from all three levels.

The Los Angeles Lakers, on the other hand, closed the Memphis Grizzlies out without much trouble. LeBron James hasn’t been a score-first player this postseason, playing mostly off the ball, which is a weird adjustment to make for opposing defenses.

They played outstanding defense against the Golden State Warriors, forcing Stephen Curry to take tough, contested shots more often than not, and completely clamping both Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole. Anthony Davis has been on a tear, and they’re borderline unbeatable when that happens.

Both teams have thrived on the defensive end of the floor. However, our WCF prediction has the Nuggets making it to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, making the most of homecourt advantage to get past the Lakers in seven games.

Boston Celtics vs Miami Heat

The Boston Celtics struggled to dominate the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, a team they should’ve swept. That inconsistency led them to a six-game series as they failed to close them out on the road even though they didn’t have Dejounte Murray due to a suspension.

The Celtics also allowed the Philadelphia 76ers to take two games at the TD Garden. Jayson Tatum was a no-show until that legendary performance in Game 7. Joe Mazzulla has left some to be desired in his first postseason in charge of the team, and that could be an issue against a savvy veteran like Erik Spoelstra.

The Miami Heat already got the best of the Celtics in the bubble. Of course, it was a somewhat different team, and Tyler Herro may not see the floor as he continues to nurse a broken hand. But Spoelstra and Jimmy Butler know what it takes to beat them at this stage.

The Heat took down the team with the best record in just five games. They even had a couple of huge comebacks, and kept their foot on the gas by dominating the New York Knicks at home and on the road in just six games in that series.

It’s hard to argue that the Celtics aren’t the deepest team in the league right now, which is the only reason why we’ll give them the nod in our ECF prediction. But just like it happened in our other NBA Conference Finals predictions 2023, we believe they’ll need to go through seven games before punching their ticket to the ultimate stage.

They failed to win the NBA championship last season, but they’ll have another shot at that 18th banner again. Will they get the job done this time?

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