It’s opening night of the 2021-22 NBA season, but our experts are already looking ahead to the postseason.
Will Tuesday’s game between the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets be an Eastern Conference finals preview?
Last year, the playoff series between the two juggernauts came down to Kevin Durant’s foot, and the Nets lost Game 7 to the eventual champion Bucks. Are these two teams destined for a rematch? And will a healthy Durant-James Harden duo be enough to topple the defending champions?
Are the retooled Los Angeles Lakers a lock to reach the Western Conference finals? Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook joined LeBron James out West, but will that be enough to contend in a tough conference? Will Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz finally turn a corner and reach the NBA Finals? Will Klay Thompson’s return lift the Golden State Warriors back to the top of the West?
And which team is primed to take it all? Will James win his fifth title? Can the Nets win a championship without a third star in Kyrie Irving? Will reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo defend his title? Our experts predict the matchups in the conference finals and NBA Finals.
MORE: Power Rankings, projections and intel for all 30 NBA teams
Eastern Conference finals
Tim Bontemps: Bucks over Nets
Jamal Collier: Nets over Bucks
Nick DePaula: Nets over Bucks
Nick Friedell: Nets over Bucks
Israel Gutierrez: Bucks over Heat
Tim Legler: Bucks over Nets
Andrew Lopez: Nets over Bucks
Tim MacMahon: Nets over Bucks
Bobby Marks: Heat over Nets
Dave McMenamin: Nets over Bucks
Kevin Pelton: Bucks over Nets
Jorge Sedano: Nets over Heat
Ramona Shelburne: Nets over Bucks
André Snellings: Bucks over Nets
Marc J. Spears: Nets over Bucks
Ohm Youngmisuk: Nets over Bucks
Results (East champion): Nets 10, Bucks 5, Heat 1.
Western Conference finals
Tim Bontemps: Jazz over Suns
Jamal Collier: Suns over Lakers
Nick DePaula: Warriors over Suns
Nick Friedell: Jazz over Lakers
Israel Gutierrez: Lakers over Jazz
Tim Legler: Lakers over Suns
Andrew Lopez: Lakers over Jazz
Tim MacMahon: Nuggets over Lakers
Bobby Marks: Jazz over Lakers
Dave McMenamin: Lakers over Suns
Kevin Pelton: Lakers over Suns
Jorge Sedano: Lakers over Nuggets
Ramona Shelburne: Lakers over Jazz
André Snellings: Lakers over Nuggets
Marc J. Spears: Lakers over Warriors
Ohm Youngmisuk: Lakers over Warriors
Results (West champion): Lakers 10, Jazz 3, Nuggets 1, Suns 1, Warriors 1.
Tim Bontemps: Bucks over Jazz
Jamal Collier: Nets over Suns
Nick DePaula: Nets over Warriors
Nick Friedell: Nets over Jazz
Israel Gutierrez: Bucks over Lakers
Tim Legler: Lakers over Bucks
Andrew Lopez: Nets over Lakers
Tim MacMahon: Nets over Nuggets
Bobby Marks: Heat over Jazz
Dave McMenamin: Nets over Lakers
Kevin Pelton: Bucks over Lakers
Jorge Sedano: Lakers over Nets
Ramona Shelburne: Lakers over Nets
André Snellings: Bucks over Lakers
Marc J. Spears: Nets over Lakers
Ohm Youngmisuk: Nets over Lakers
Results (NBA champion): Nets 8, Bucks 4, Lakers 3, Heat 1.