Crossover: VT’s NBA Playoff Predictions

Apr 11, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) reacts after Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder (17) scores a three poibt basket against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second half at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports.

A first-of-its-kind NBA crossover nugget of VikingsTerritory content, a few of our writers who quietly follow basketball as much as football weigh in with NBA playoff predictions.

The Milwaukee Bucks are odds-on favorites, hovering around +250 odds to win the chip for the second time in three years. The Boston Celtics are next in line at +350.

Crossover: VT’s NBA Playoff Predictions

VT‘s Janik Eckardt, PurplePTSD‘s Josh Frey, and Dustin Baker collaborated this week to pump out round-by-round playoff predictions.

These are those.

1st Round

NBA Playoff
Mar 31, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) brings the ball up court during the second half against the New York Knicks at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports.

Eastern Conference

(1) Milwaukee Bucks over (8) Miami Heat, 4-1
(4) Cleveland Cavaliers over (5) New York Knicks, 4-3
(3) Philadelphia 76ers over (6) Brooklyn Nets, 4-2
(2) Boston Celtics over (7) Atlanta Hawks, 4-1

The group was not frisky enough to forecast any upsets on this side. In fact, there was no disagreement whatsoever about winners from EC Round 1. Perhaps Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving remaining in the EC could’ve spiced this 1st Round, but that is moot.

Western Conference

(1) Denver Nuggets over (8) Minnesota Timberwolves, 4-1
(4) Phoenix Suns over (5) Los Angeles Clippers, 4-1
(6) Golden State Warriors over (3) Sacramento Kings, 4-3
(7) Los Angeles Lakers over (2) Memphis Grizzlies, 4-3

Upsets for the Warriors and Lakers — are they really upsets? — were on the menu, as the panel believed in the storied history of each franchise and current roster talent to reign supreme. Although, Eckardt picked the Grizzlies over the Lakers. The Nuggets and Suns will cruise. Perhaps a healthy Paul George could change the dynamic of the Suns-Clippers showdown.

2nd Round

Apr 4, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) dribbles the ball against Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports.

Eastern Conference

(1) Milwaukee Bucks over (4) Cleveland Cavaliers, 4-2
(2) Boston Celtics over (3) Philadelphia 76ers, 4-3

The Cavaliers will put up a fight, but they’re just not ready yet. Celtics-79ers has the potential to be the best NBA playoff series on the whole. We shall see. The Bucks-Celtics meeting in the ECF feels like six months in the making.

Western Conference

(4) Phoenix Suns over (1) Denver Nuggets, 4-2
(6) Golden State Warriors over (7) Los Angeles Lakers, 4-3

Nobody on the panel likes the Suns — not one bit — but it’s hard to deny what Durant brings to an already wonderful team. For Warriors over Lakers, Baker picked the Lakers, chiefly because of his belief in the James-Davis combo, but Frey and Eckardt basically laughed and stamped Golden State’s ticket to the WCF.

Conference Championships

Apr 6, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) against the Denver Nuggets in the first half at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Eastern Conference

(1) Milwaukee Bucks over (2) Boston Celtics, 4-3

Baker chose the Celtics, mainly as backlash to Frey and Eckardt for dismissing the Lakers so quickly. It felt like justice. But Frey and Eckardt are two vocal Antetokounmpo fans, so it’s Milwaukee in seven.

Western Conference

(4) Phoenix Suns over (6) Golden State Warriors, 4-2

The Warriors do not match up well with the Suns, and Durant will seek to slice and dice his old team. No Western Conference team has the defensive oomph to tame Devin Booker + Durant in their peak form. Phoenix heads to The Finals.

NBA Finals

Mar 25, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

(1) Milwaukee Bucks over (4) Phoenix Suns, 4-2

With all the positive chatter about the Suns and their fierce twosome, their luck runs out against Milwaukee. The Bucks do have the defense to slow Phoenix down, and they’ll need every ounce of it to prevent the Suns from winning their first NBA title.

Take a wild guess as to the winner of the NBA Finals MVP. His name has 20 letters.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by