The 2022 NBA All-Star Break has come and gone, with plenty of highs and some disastrous lows that we won’t touch upon. As we enter the second “half” of the season, we’ve conceived four NBA bold predictions for the final 20+ games that would leave the entire landscape of the league shaken. With such little time left, teams are entering the final stretch run to sink or swim and hopefully secure a playoff seed.
NBA Bold Predictions For The Second Half Of The Season
1. The Los Angeles Lakers MISS The 2022 NBA Playoffs
Starting off with perhaps one of the hottest NBA bold predictions, the 2021-22 NBA season has been nothing short of a disaster for the Los Angeles Lakers. Fans should’ve seen this coming from this particular Lakers squad from the get-go, or at least should have lowered their expectations. The overall construct of this roster is perplexing, with leads many to believe that regardless of how the season ends for Los Angeles, LeGM may have to get his hands dirty this offseason.
The Western Conference playoff picture is loaded this year. The Warriors are back, the Grizzlies have taken the league by storm, the Timberwolves have joined the fray, and that ultimately leaves a few casualties. Who would’ve thought LeBron James would be one of those casualties? With Anthony Davis once again out of the rotation due to injury, and 24 games left to go, what kind of adjustment can the Lakers make that can secure a seed above the play-in.
That appears to be where LA is headed: the play-in. They are joined by a handful of clubs flirting with play-in territory, including the Clippers, Wolves, Spurs, and the rag-tag Blazers. If this last one-quarter stretch turns disastrous for LA, there is real chance that LA gets bounced out of the top ten seeds. But LA simply does not have the weapons for some of these clubs, especially the Clippers if Kawhi Leonard returns, and perhaps even the Wolves.
2. The Boston Celtics Will Be At Least The Third Seed
Before the 2022 All-Star Break interrupted them, the Boston Celtics were on a tear, rattling off nine of their last ten contests. They tightened their rotations, found their groove on both ends, and got off a handful of contracts that they didn’t need at the deadline. The classic moniker of “defense wins championships” has been fully bought into by the Celtics. The defensive stats speak for themselves: fourth in the league in team +/- at 5.4, second in blocks (6.0), second in defensive rating (104.9), and first in opponent field goal percentage (42.9).
After plenty of questions arose regarding team chemistry earlier in the year, the Celtics seem to have found their identity and appear united as they enter this final stretch. Fresh off of a nine game win streak, they rattled off some very impressive wins, including a 48-point drubbing of division rival Philadelphia 76ers. But the question now is, how do they stack up against the best that the East has to offer?
Despite the growing number of injuries, the Chicago Bulls keep finding ways to win. The Miami Heat sit at the top with a tight lead for the first seed, Philly now has James Harden to pair with Joel Embiid, the Cleveland Cavaliers just keep chugging along, the Bucks are more than capable of repeating, and who knows if the Nets can put together a final run. The Celtics are just four and a half games back from the top, but sit at the sixth seed. Expect plenty of fluctuation in these last couple months of play, but if this upward trend continues for Boston, then there is decent chance that one of these NBA bold predictions becomes reality.
3. The Golden State Warriors Take The Top Seed
The NBA missed the Golden State Warriors. Not quite the same dynasty we saw a few years ago, this particular Warriors club is definitely capable of retaking the throne that they saw taken from them in 2019. Klay Thompson is finally back, Steph Curry still plays at a high-level, despite the number decrease this year, and the supporting cast looks bought into the team’s goals. Plus, Andrew Wiggins was an All-Star starter! Take that for what you will.
This Warriors are currently second in a loaded Western Conference, with a record of 42-17. They are six and a half games behind the first place Phoenix Suns, or the Chris Paul-less Phoenix Suns. Paul will be out indefinitely following a fractured thumb, leaving a massive hold in the Suns attack that has gotten them to first place. That leaves a great opportunity for not just the Warriors, but other competing teams in the hunt for the top seed. The Memphis Grizzlies are right there with the Warriors, as are Utah Jazz, and behind them the Dallas Mavericks. There’s both little and plenty of time left for some major reshuffling at the top of the West.
After shooting the lights out at the All-Star Game, perhaps Steph Curry’s shooting will see a massive uptick in these last 20 or so games. Maybe it was just the turning point he needed, as he definitely took plenty of shots to get into the kind of rhythm he did. Maybe one of the lighter NBA bold predictions from this bunch, one would not be surprised to watch Golden State close the gap between them and Phoenix come April.
4. The Brooklyn Nets Are Play-In Bound, With Or Without KD, Simmons, and Kyrie
Speaking of disastrous seasons, as we mentioned with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Brooklyn Nets are in one of the more unique situations the NBA has ever seen. The Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving era was the era that never was. The three of them only took the floor together 16 times for an accumulative one season from last year to this year. Now, they enter a new era with KD and Kyrie being joined by Ben Simmons, where who knows where both his head or his game is at.
This new big three has the potential to work more systematically than the previous trio. Simmons is a natural playmaker who can distribute at a higher level than Harden, while also being able to defend. He can get to the paint and kick to a defender or (maybe?) finish at the rim. Someone like Irving can flourish off-ball, and Kevin Durant is simply just Kevin Durant. However, this team has some ground to make up.
The 31-28 Brooklyn Nets are at the eighth seed in the East, losing two of their last ten, and fresh off an 11-game losing streak. The other obstacles between Durant working his way up to full speed, Irving only playing on the road, or whenever Simmons puts on the jersey, may be took much for this team to overcome in this last one-quarter left.
If these four NBA bold predictions come to fruition, we are certainly bound for a chaotic finish to a chaotic season.
Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images