Peter Hooley's Basketball Tips
NBA14 Apr 2023

2022-23 NBA Playoffs Preview: Western Conference

At the beginning of the season, most people had their money on the Warriors, Lakers and maybe the Suns to win it all. That changed quickly when the Warriors simply couldn’t win on the road, the Lakers couldn’t put more than two games together with a healthy team and the Suns just stayed around the mark until Booker returned and then locked in the fourth seed. Instead, it was the Nuggets and Grizzlies who set the bar in the packed Western Conference and finished with the first and second seeds respectively.

The biggest surprise packet of all was the rise of the Sacramento Kings. They started strong and held their position to finish with the third seed in their first postseason appearance in a million years. There is one big negative to the Kings heading into these playoff’s... they face a fully fit and healthy Golden State Warriors. The Lakers managed to book their place in the postseason after escaping the Play-In tournament and even though it wasn’t pretty, all that matters is they are in.

Which Teams Will Make The Conference Semifinals?

It’s hard to see any team trouble the Nuggets early on in a series, purely because there is only a few matchups who can limit Jokic’s effect on the game, and they will play the eighth seed, the Timberwolves in the first round. With Murray back playing well and Porter Jr healthy, the Nuggets should move into the Semi’s with ease. Nuggets 4-0.

The Suns and Clippers series could be a banger if Paul George returns at some point, but with KD and Booker both capable of scoring 30 every night, I just can’t see a way the Clippers get past this Suns squad. Phoenix 4-1.

As mentioned above, I feel for the Kings in this first round matchup with the Warriors. The Kings are a fun and highly energetic squad to watch, but the firepower of Golden State and the fact they’ve been there before will prove too strong. Golden State 4-1.

The Lakers and Grizzlies series will be a fun one, and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Lakers moved on. However, they just don’t have the guard defenders to limit Ja Morant or Desmond Bane on a nightly basis. LeBron will be LeBron and AD will be up against the likely DPOY in Jaren Jackson Jr. This could go seven games, but I'll say the Grizzlies in six.

Which Teams Will Make The Conference Final?

The Nuggets and Suns have had some big-time games already in the regular season, but the key to who wins this series is health. If Durant and CP3 stay healthy, even the Nuggets who are an elite defensive team (outside of Jokic), won’t be able to slow them down in seven games. On the flip side, Ayton has had his troubles trying to guard Jokic, but even if the two-time MVP averages 30, 10, 10, I'm not sure the Nuggets get past the Suns. Phoenix 4-2.

Now this is the series everyone wants to see, Golden State going up against Memphis. Draymond vs Dillon Brooks. Klay Thompson vs Dillon Brooks. The Warriors franchise vs Dillon Brooks. The trash talking has been going on for nearly two years between these teams and it would make for one heck of a series. When it comes to the playoffs, it’s as much mental as it is physical and I think with the Warriors back healthy, they’ll handle the Grizzlies here just one last time before the dynasty moves on. Warriors 4-2.

Which Team Will Win The Conference Championship?

The odds for Phoenix to win the Championship became ridiculously short when Durant arrived, and then started to go out a bit when he was injured. No surprises here, but the health of Durant and even Chris Paul is what probably stands in the way between them falling out of the playoffs early and winning it all.

Same can be said for the Warriors though, but if we take this potential matchup as two fully fit teams, the edge goes to the Suns. Wiggins is back and he has proven to be an elite wing defender, but he can’t guard both Booker and Durant at the same time. On the flip side, the Suns have to try limit Steph, Klay and Jordan Poole. Cue the fireworks. Suns 4-3.

It’s been a fantastic season with lots of highs, and the best is yet to come. If you want to check out what other Dabblers think of the NBA Finals and find some NBA tips, make sure you check out our NBA Banter chat in the app!