Unplugged NBA predictions: Anonymous scout, coach and executive pick Heat-76ers, Celtics-Bucks, Suns-Mavs winners

The second round of the 2022 edition NBA the playoffs have the potential to be special.

Does Philadelphia 76ers have enough to prevent Jimmy Butlerit is miami heat to reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in three years? Will be Giannis Antetokounmpo, Holiday Jrue and the defending NBA champion Milwaukee dollars wait Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the Boston Celtics? And can Devin Booker, Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns overcome Luka Doncicit is Dallas Mavericks?

To answer these questions, Athleticism turned to NBA experts: a scout, a coach and a team manager. We granted each of them anonymity to allow them to be completely candid when predicting the results of each round. (Their assessments have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity. Additionally, these interviews were conducted before Athleticismfrom Shams Charania reported Joel Embid had suffered an orbital fracture and mild concussionexcluding it indefinitely.)

The Golden State Warriors’ second-round opponent has yet to be determined.


Eastern Conference

No. 1 Miami Heat vs. No. 4 Philadelphia 76ers

Scout’s point of view: “I choose the Heat. Kyle Lowrymust be in good health. When you get to the round of 16, injuries to key players start to matter more. But Miami has guys who can keep (James) Harden. No one can keep Embiid. … But (the Heat) have guys who can compete with Harden, I think. … Lowry, to me, is like an intermittent defender; he had put his mind to (defending well in this series).

“Philadelphia is a little thin on the bench. Their starting five is excellent. But when they start going to the bench, is it George Niang will produce? East Shake Milton (will produce)? They are going to have to play a lot of minutes. I like the depth of Miami better, with (Tyler) Herro, Caleb Martin and Duncan Robinson coming off the bench, even Dewayne Dedmon coming off the bench.

“I guess the negative for Miami is: Jimmy Butler will wear them? Can Butler and Herro survive Embiid, Harden and Tyrese Maxey? Because what these games boil down to is this, ultimately: your best players at the critical moment consistently produce. That’s why Lowry has to be there: so you have the trio of Butler, Herro and Lowry against Embiid, Harden and Maxey. Maybe it’s a wash. So I think it will be a very close series.

“With Embiid, you just have to take the ball out of his hands, in my opinion. You know which is a key factor? Danny Green. … I still think (if you’re Heat coach Erik Spoelstra) you need to leave Tobias Harris try to fight and Green tries to fight you (instead of Embiid having this opportunity). … I think Bam Adebayo, with help, can slow Embiid, then you let the other guys try to beat you. … It’s going to be a very interesting dynamic. I’m sure (Miami will) mix things up, and Miami plays a lot of zone too. So I think you’ll probably see quite a bit of area.

The coach’s view: “I see Miami doing that one. I think they have the best matchups for certain guys (on the Sixers). Now they may not have the game for Embiid, but they have the game for Harden, and they understand how to keep it. With the Heat’s physique, switching and ability to trap situations, I’m giving them the edge in this one.

“I think Bam can be effective (defending Embiid), but the hardest thing about Embiid is that he gets people in trouble. It’s the only thing that’s going to save the Sixers in some games – if there’s going to be a game where Bam is going to find himself in a foul or P.J. Tuckerwill end up in a foul or Dedmon will end up in a foul.

Executive Outlook: “It’s going to be a really physical series. You have two physical teams stacking up with a lot of size and a lot of versatility. Who has the best game plan? It’s going to be a very, very good series. Harden having this game to close the first round (against Toronto) is a good sign for Philly. But Embiid is somewhat hampered by injury, as is Jimmy Butler, who missed the final game of Miami’s first-round series. So it’s the combination of health and game planning.

“In theory, Miami has a lot of bodies they can throw at both Embiid and Harden – real good defenders. So I’m going to go with Miami in seven games. I know the seven-game prediction is a bit of a hurdle, but I think the physics the series is going to be played with will be really, really fun to watch.

Scout’s choice: Heat up in seven
Coach’s Choice: Heat in six
Executive’s choice: Heat up in seven
Consensus Building Team: Heat


Tyrese Maxey will have to shoulder a heavy load for the Sixers in their second-round game with the Heat. (Bill Streicher / USA Today)

No. 2 Boston Celtics vs. No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks

Scout’s point of view:Kris MiddletonAbsence is essential. Grayson Allen is sometimes a good player. But I’m not sure (the Bucks) will have enough if Middleton is out. It’s a big advantage for Boston.

“I choose Boston to reach the final. They have the two stars playing at a very high level. The whole team has been great for the past three months on both sides. They seem to be very connected, chemistry-wise. They have Defensive Player of the Year (Smart Marcus). Everybody said when Robert Williams came out that it was going to be a blow; they didn’t miss a beat because Al Horford, Grant Williams and Daniel Theis more than held up. (The Celtics) have very few weaknesses.

“The Bucks are very good. They have a championship pedigree. But I would be worried about who will score. Giannis (and) Jrue Holiday, of course. But then it drops. They have a lot of complementary guys. …

“I know Giannis is considered the best player in the league, but the Celtics have guys who can keep Giannis. … I mean, no one can really keep it, but they have some confrontational possibilities. …

“I just don’t see the Bucks as an overpowered team, even though they are the defending champions. I think when you get to that level against a very sticky defense, like Boston, losing your second leading scorer could be game-changing.

The coach’s view: “He’s the one that’s interesting. I actually see Milwaukee winning the series because of what Giannis is capable of. …

“I think the Bucks can get over Middleton’s injury. I really do. The way in which Bobby Portis played gave them a big boost there. Jrue Holiday, now that Middleton is out, I think he’s taken it to another level. And I think they’ve had enough (to beat the Celtics).

“Defensively – that’s where the Bucks are probably going to struggle the most against Boston, but I think they’ve got enough (offensive) to come back to Boston.”

Executive Outlook: “It’s another fascinating one. While the other semi-final in the East is going to be really physical, this one is going to be a combination of physical and skill. … Milwaukee’s experience and offensive point defense with Jrue Holiday, their size and versatility will be important.

“Boston had a really stellar run the last half of the season and extended that into the playoffs where they’re really playing with confidence. They seem to have their defense at the same pace, so Milwaukee are ready for a big challenge here. I think (the fact) that Milwaukee has been in this situation gives them a slight edge.

Scout’s choice: Celtics in seven
Coach’s Choice: dollars in seven
Executive’s choice: dollars in seven
Consensus Building Team: deer


Jrue Holiday’s defense will be key to the Bucks’ hopes of winning their second-round series against Jaylen Brown and the Boston Celtics. (Jeff Hanisch / USA Today)

Western Conference

#1 Phoenix Suns vs. #4 Dallas Mavericks

Scout’s point of view: “I’m going with Phoenix. Devin Booker played Thursday night and they have a few days off. Dallas can’t get enough. Their two guys, Dončić and Jalen Brunson, are great. But after that, I don’t count on (the rest of their) guys. Mikal Bridges can keep Dončić. Torrey Craig can keep Dončić. Chris Paul can correspond with Brunson. Deandre Ayton was very good in the New Orleans series; with Dwight Powellit’s not a good game for Dallas.

“East Maxi Kleber going to make shots? East Reggie Bullock going to make shots? … I just don’t think Dallas has had enough, and Phoenix has some good matchups against their key players. Plus, the Suns are so determined. Chris Paul had a match for the ages on Thursday night, obviously. …I mean, 14 (clear shots from the field) in a row? I hope you are joking? Talk about coming through in the clutch. It’s one of the best performances of all time. »

The coach’s view: “I watch the matches. Mikal Bridges will face off, and Jae Crowder will correspond sometimes, with Dončić. And both teams are playing small, so that helps. I think where Dallas gets the advantage is when their small ball comes into a game, their score gets a lot better with the 3-point line, and the Mavericks can tie. Jalen Brunson is playing so well right now, as well as Dončić. They’re all playing a great music video, and I think Chris Paul is going to be able to burn himself out like you’ve seen a bit in this series from New Orleans with (Jose) Alvarado guarding him. I think Dallas has bigger defenders that can get into him, and the Mavericks can switch between Devin Booker and Paul and create this game problem for Phoenix.

Executive Outlook: “Dallas was in a very tough first-round series, and it all, at the end of the day, comes down to the combination of talent and health. Which team will actually be healthy enough to use all their talents? We “We’ve seen some players emerge in Dallas, and Jalen Brunson having such an effective first-round streak is a good sign for them. Maybe some of their injuries helped them move forward a bit. So Dallas is going to fight.”

“I think Phoenix has the defensive versatility to really challenge Dallas, especially in the frontcourt and on those pick-and-rolls. Phoenix probably had a good first-round awakening, and I imagine this series will be won by the Suns due to home-court advantage. But it’s not going to be easy. I will even say it will be Phoenix in seven, and the series will be that long because Dallas enters the series with a lot of confidence too. It will be a very good one.

Scout’s choice: suns out of five
Coach’s Choice: Mavericks in six
Executive’s choice: Suns in seven


To repeat as Western Conference champions, Chris Paul (left) and the Phoenix Suns will need to slow down Luka Dončić. (Kevin Jairaj / USA Today)

(Top photo by Jayson Tatum and Giannis Antetokounmpo: Paul Rutherford/USA Today)

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