Wednesday, December 1 2021

The 2021-22 NBA regular season is now under way; early ESPN expert picks and predictions for the 2022 NBA Playoffs are available. During Tuesday’s season-opener doubleheader, the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Brooklyn Nets 127-104 at Fiserv Forum.

Then, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 121-114 at Staples Center. According to the 2022 NBA championship futures from BetOnline, the Nets have the best odds (+250) of winning the championship. With +400 odds, the Lakers have the second-best odds of winning their 18th title.

Eastern Conference Finals Picks

Of the 16 ESPN writers, 14 believe the Eastern Conference Finals matchup will take place between the Nets and Bucks. Though, Israel Gutierrez and Bobby Marks are predicting the Heat to appear in the conference finals. This is a reasonable prediction. Last season, the Heat finished 40-32 (.556), ranking sixth overall in the conference. And, they appeared in the 2020 NBA Finals against the Lakers.

Also, ten of the writers are expecting the Nets to defeat the Bucks in the ECF. And, five have the Bucks making it back to the NBA Finals. For the real shocker, no one is picking the 76ers to even qualify for the ECF. With a record of 49-23 (.681), they had the best record in the east last season. Despite the Ben Simmons drama, they could make it. Other ESPN expert picks are on the front page.

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

Western Conference Finals Picks

Furthermore, while their Western Conference Finals picks are more or less the same, Tim Bontemps is the only writer who is predicting a Jazz-Suns WCF. That means, he believes both the Lakers and Warriors will get knocked out earlier on. To add to Bontemps’ prediction, Spears and Youngmisuk are not changing their picks. They have Lakers over Warriors. Honesty is admirable. Ten have the Lakers advancing to the 2022 Finals.

Tim Legler, Dave McMenamin, Kevin Pelton—all three writers are expecting a Lakers-Suns matchup. Nick Friedell and Bobby Marks are the only writers anticipating the Jazz to defeat the Lakers. Additionally, while the Lakers now have Russell Westbrook, they are struggling at the moment. As stated above, the team lost their home opener 121-114. And, the Lakers went 0-6 in preseason games. Will injuries be a factor again this season?

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

NBA Finals Picks

Moreover, for the 2022 NBA Finals picks, there is a little bit more diversity of thought. As always, Bontemps’ picks stick out like a sore thumb. He is picking Milwaukee over Utah. Hey, it could happen. Anyways, considering the Lakers and Nets possess the best odds of reaching the 2022 NBA Finals, one would think these two teams would attract the most attention. Well, yes and no. Eight have the Nets winning it all.

Nevertheless, of these sixteen writers, only six believe the finals will be between Los Angeles and Brooklyn. Four writers—Gutierrez, Legler, Pelton, Snellings—are thinking Lakers-Bucks. Referencing NBA Futures from BetOnline, the Bucks have the third-best odds (+800) of repeating. Other ESPN expert picks are on the main page of Basketball Insiders.

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

Source: Basketball Insider

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