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Sport NBA playoff preview picks: Is Nets over Jazz a safe bet? Some of our experts think so

12:00  22 may  2021
12:00  22 may  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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Some of our experts think so . Jeff Zillgitt, Mark Medina, Matt Eppers, Duane Rankin, Marla Ridenour, J. Michael, Jim Owczarski, Evan Barnes and Berry Tramel, USA TODAY. Published 11:38 am UTC May. Can former champions Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving deliver a championship for Brooklyn? We asked our NBA experts from around the USA TODAY network for their safe and bold picks for the Eastern and Western conference finals as well as the NBA Finals. Some of their answers may surprise you.

The NBA ’s first play -in tournament served its intended purpose. It became a league-wide chatter topic in the last month of the season, and has since spawned some fascinating games. However, the actual playoffs will start on Saturday. We asked NBA Experts from the USA TODAY Network to make a safe and bold choice for the East-West Conference Finals and the NBA Finals. Some of their answers may surprise you.

The NBA's inaugural play-in tournament served its intended purposed: it became the topic of league-wide chatter the last month of the season and then produced some compelling games.

a group of men racing down a snow covered slope: Can Donovan Mitchell lead the Utah Jazz into an NBA Finals meeting against the Brooklyn Nets? © Chris Nicoll, USA TODAY Sports Can Donovan Mitchell lead the Utah Jazz into an NBA Finals meeting against the Brooklyn Nets?

But the real playoffs begin on Saturday. Can the Los Angeles Lakers repeat as champions? The Utah Jazz finished with the league's best regular-season record. Does that mean they are ready to make a run to their first title? And what to make of the Nets? Can former champions Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving deliver a championship for Brooklyn?

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We asked our NBA experts from around the USA TODAY network for their safe and bold picks for the Eastern and Western conference finals and the Finals. Proud of 'connection' with QB, Green Bay Packers WR Davante Adams would do 'extra thinking ' on future if Aaron

NBA playoff preview picks : Is Nets over Jazz a safe bet ? Some of our experts think so . NBA betting picks , odds and expert predictions for each Round 1 NBA Playoffs matchups, including the Bucks, Nets & Lakers, Saturday May 22.

We asked our NBA experts from around the USA TODAY network for their safe and bold picks for the Eastern and Western conference finals as well as the NBA Finals. Some of their answers may surprise you.

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Jeff Zillgitt, USA Today

Eastern Conference finals

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Experts ' predictions for the Celtics' first-round NBA playoff matchup with the Nets show they have zero faith in Boston pulling off an upset. Celtics- Nets prediction roundup: Most lopsided first-round series? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston. Let's cut to the chase: We all know the Brooklyn Nets should handle the Boston Celtics in their first-round NBA playoff series. The superstar trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden leads a loaded roster bolstered by underrated role players like Joe Harris, Jeff Green and Landry Shamet.

Experts ' predictions for the Celtics' first-round NBA playoff matchup with the Nets show they have zero faith in Boston pulling off an upset. Let's cut to the chase: We all know the Brooklyn Nets should handle the Boston Celtics in their first-round NBA playoff series. The superstar trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden leads a loaded roster bolstered by underrated role players like Joe Harris, Jeff Green and Landry Shamet.

Safe pick: Sixers over Bucks

The Sixers finally breakthrough “The Process” and get to the NBA Finals with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Bold pick: Heat over Sixers

The defending conference champion Heat and Jimmy Butler can get on a roll and win the East.

Western Conference finals

2021 NBA Playoffs: Grizzlies vs. Jazz odds, line, picks, Game 1 predictions from model on 99-66 roll

  2021 NBA Playoffs: Grizzlies vs. Jazz odds, line, picks, Game 1 predictions from model on 99-66 roll SportsLine's projection model simulated Jazz vs. Grizzlies 10,000 timesDamian Lillard and the Blazers are making a run toward the West's fifth seed.

Our experts make their picks for every playoff series. Favored Nets attracting big bets to win NBA title. The Los Angeles Lakers picked up their No. 7 seed with a thrilling victory over the Golden State Warriors. Our experts make their predictions for the final play -in game and every first-round matchup.

Odds. Expert Picks . Players. NBA Draft. But for every LeBron James block or Michael Jordan game-winner in NBA postseason history, there's a John Paxson or Williams took over the full-time starting job after Boston traded Daniel Theis before the deadline, but he's been hampered with a But that all changes in the playoffs , when opponents will relentlessly hunt him in pick -and-roll, where he was in

Safe pick: Jazz over Lakers

The Jazz have the NBA’s best record, the No. 4 offense, No. 3 defense, stars, depth and coaching.

Despite Warriors' loss, Steve Kerr wants NBA to keep play-in tournament

  Despite Warriors' loss, Steve Kerr wants NBA to keep play-in tournament The Warriors lost to the Lakers in their first play-in game and got eliminated with a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in their second one. Still, the play-in tournament was a major hit in the ratings department. It was so much so that the league is now even considering adding more such tournaments to the season. Thus, Kerr can see the bigger picture here.Subscribe to Yardbarker's Morning Bark, the most comprehensive newsletter in sports. Customize your email to get the latest news on your favorite sports, teams and schools. Emailed daily.

Bold pick: Nuggets over Jazz

Niklola Jokic carrying Denver to the NBA Finals with Jamal Murray injured would be an amazing story.

NBA Finals

Safe pick: Jazz over Sixers

The No. 1 seeds from each conference haven’t met in the Finals since 2016.

Bold pick: Bucks over Clippers

There would be some wild upsets to get to his point, but both of these teams have the talent to make it that far.

a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Mark Medina © Twitter Screem Capture Mark Medina

Mark Medina, USA Today

Eastern Conference finals

2021 NBA Playoffs: Grizzlies vs. Jazz odds, line, picks, Game 2 predictions from model on 99-66 roll

  2021 NBA Playoffs: Grizzlies vs. Jazz odds, line, picks, Game 2 predictions from model on 99-66 roll SportsLine's projection model simulated Jazz vs. Grizzlies 10,000 timesUtah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell is expected to return to the lineup Wednesday as the top-seeded club hosts the No. 8-seeded Memphis Grizzlies in Game 2 of their best-of-seven series. Mitchell, whose 26.4 points per game average tied for No. 10 in the NBA, missed the last 16 games of the regular season because of a right ankle sprain. Mitchell practiced three consecutive days but was held out by the team's medical staff for Game 1 against the Grizzlies. The Jazz squandered a double-digit lead and lost 112-109 to a Grizzlies club that has now won eight of its last nine.

Safe pick: Nets over 76ers

Even with injuries, little defense and minimal on-court time, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving are way too talented.

Bold pick: Knicks over Nets

The Knicks have now lived up to what the NBA has always wanted them to be – a championship team instead of a laughing stock.

Western Conference finals

2021 NBA Playoffs: Nets vs. Celtics odds, line, picks, Game 3 predictions from model on 99-66 roll

  2021 NBA Playoffs: Nets vs. Celtics odds, line, picks, Game 3 predictions from model on 99-66 roll SportsLine's projection model simulated Celtics vs. Nets 10,000 timesDamian Lillard and the Blazers are making a run toward the West's fifth seed.

Safe pick: Lakers over Clippers

The L.A. rivalry finally happens in a playoff setting, and LeBron James and Anthony Davis reaffirm why the Lakers still rule over this city.

2021 NBA Playoffs: Nets vs. Celtics odds, line, picks, Game 4 predictions from model on 99-66 roll

  2021 NBA Playoffs: Nets vs. Celtics odds, line, picks, Game 4 predictions from model on 99-66 roll SportsLine's projection model simulated Celtics vs. Nets 10,000 timesDamian Lillard and the Blazers are making a run toward the West's fifth seed.

Bold pick: Suns over Jazz

Chris Paul finally shows he can stay durable during the playoffs while leading an inexperienced Suns team to a place it has never been since Charles Barkley squared off against Michael Jordan.

NBA Finals

Safe pick: Lakers over Nets

In what will be a ratings draw because of the teams’ market and star power, LeBron James wins an NBA title over Kevin Durant for the first time since the Miami Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder nine years ago. A young Durant learned about LeBron’s greatness early in OKC.

Bold pick: Nuggets over Heat

No longer content with just being the feel-good story in the NBA bubble, the Nuggets win an NBA title over a returning Finals team by leaning on the league’s best all-time passing big man (Nikola Jokic).

Our experts can see Kyrie Irving (11) and the Nets facing LeBron James and the Lakers as a safe bet for the NBA Finals. © Katelyn Mulcahy, Getty Images Our experts can see Kyrie Irving (11) and the Nets facing LeBron James and the Lakers as a safe bet for the NBA Finals. a man wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Matt Eppers © Twitter Screem Capture Matt Eppers

Matt Eppers, USA Today

Eastern Conference finals

Safe pick: Sixers over Nets

Philadelphia is one of the few teams with the defenders to throw at Brooklyn’s trio of stars, and Joel Embiid should wreak havoc inside against the Nets frontcourt.

Bold pick: Heat over Sixers

Miami would have to run an absolute gauntlet, but with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo leading the way, the defending East champs have the mettle to do it.

Western Conference finals

Safe pick: Lakers over Clippers

We finally get the Staples Center series after the teams circled each other for two seasons, with the Lakers reminding the Clippers what’s what in Los Angeles.

Bold pick: Nuggets over Jazz

Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. have elevated their games without Jamal Murray. If they continue, they can carry the Nuggets to a surprise run to the conference finals.

NBA Finals

Safe pick: Lakers over Sixers

Points will be at a premium between the league’s top two defenses, and the Lakers have more reliable scorers around stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Bold pick: Nuggets over Bucks

There’s no reason to believe Nikola Jokic won’t continue posting absurd numbers, with the presumptive MVP putting the Nuggets on his back for an improbable title run.

a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Duane Rankin © Twitter Screen Capture Duane Rankin

Duane Rankin, Arizona Republic

Eastern Conference finals

Safe pick: Sixers over Nets

Joel Embiid difference maker inside versus Brooklyn’s Big 3.

Bold pick: Hawks over Nets

Nate McMillan pulls off improbable coaching run with Trae Young catching fire.

Western Conference finals

Safe pick: Lakers over Clippers

LeBron James, Anthony Davis win Game 7 late to top super talented Clippers.

Bold pick: Suns over Mavericks

Phoenix makes it back to finals for first time in 1993 in fending off Luka Doncic, Mavs.

NBA Finals

Safe pick: Lakers over Sixers

Los Angeles repeats as NBA champions.

Bold pick: Suns over Bucks

With Chris Paul leading the way, Phoenix captures first NBA title after 11-year playoff drought.

a close up of a person wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Marla Ridenour © Twitter Screem Capture Marla Ridenour

Marla Ridenour, Akron Beacon Journal

Eastern Conference finals

Safe pick: Nets over 76ers

True test of the importance of defense as Nets’ loaded offense puts it all together after injury-plagued season.

Bold pick: Bucks over Knicks.

Bucks better constructed for a 2021 run; Giannis plays like an MVP on a nightly basis.

Western Conference finals

Safe pick: Lakers over Jazz

Jazz led the league in 3-pointers made and attempted, but that doesn’t hold up against Lakers’ stifling defense.

Bold pick: Suns over Clippers

Despite their lack of playoff experience, Suns Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton come of age under Chris Paul’s direction.

NBA Finals

Safe pick: Lakers over Nets

As the play-in game against Warriors showed, Playoff LeBron hasn’t lost his magic. Still in prove-it mode with James Harden and an NBA title.

Bold pick: Jazz over Bucks

Disrespected Jazz have a perfect blend of offense and defense and a throwback style that emphasizes balance and teamwork.

a man holding a basketball: J Michael © Twitter Screem Capture J Michael

J. Michael, Indianapolis Star

Eastern Conference finals

Safe pick: 76ers over Nets

7-game series with the better defensive team winning.

Bold pick: Bucks over Sixers

The difference between flaming out and making the finals is Jrue Holiday.

Western Conference finals

Safe pick: Clippers over Suns

Chris Paul is the best MVP candidate but L.A. still has the two best players

Bold pick: Jazz over Nuggets

The two teams that hardly anyone will pick to advance but Utah has the shooters, creators and on big defensive game-changer.

NBA Finals

Safe pick: Nets over Clippers

Big 3 is greater than Big 2, and Brooklyn's depth gives them more paths to victory.

Bold pick: Sixers over Suns

It's not about who has had the best season over 72 games as much as who is playing their best basketball now.

Jim Owczarski looking at the camera © Twitter Screem Capture Jim Owczarski

Jim Owczarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Eastern Conference finals

Safe pick: Nets over 76ers

Even at half (or third) strength these two were the best of the East and it makes too much sense to see them square up at full capacity in the East finals.

Bold pick: Bucks over 76ers

The bold thought isn’t just the Bucks beating the 76ers, but in believing they will beat Miami and Brooklyn on the way as well.

Western Conference finals

Safe pick: Jazz over Suns

Top seeds typically represent make the conference finals, and they typically advance – and these two teams have been the best of the West all year.

Bold pick: Clippers over Lakers

These teams weren’t at full strength all season but the playoffs allow them to find a groove, and perhaps the Lakers run out of gas.

NBA Finals

Safe pick: Jazz over Nets

This iteration of the Nets reminds of the first of the “big three” in Miami, too talented to not make the Finals but a more solid team beats them for the championship.

Bold pick: Bucks over Clippers

The Bucks reshaped the roster and changed their offensive and defensive schemes in a shortened offseason, and it pays off on the 50th anniversary of their first championship.

a man smiling for the camera: Evan Barnes © Twitter Screem Capture Evan Barnes

EVAN BARNES, Memphis Commercial Appeal

Eastern Conference finals

Safe Pick: Bucks over 76ers

Jrue Holiday’s two-way play is the final piece the Bucks need to finally break through to the Finals

Bold Pick: Nets over 76ers

If the Nets’ “Big 3” stays healthy and the chemistry peaks, they’ll overcome defensive concerns and be the last East team standing

Western Conference finals

Safe Pick: Lakers over Jazz

All depends on LeBron James’ ankle but the Lakers’ experience/team defense is hard to bet against

Bold pick: Jazz over Nuggets

Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley get healthy and Utah rides its volume shooting/defense to celebrate its final Finals trip since 1998

NBA Finals

Safe Pick: Lakers over Bucks

A healthy James and Anthony Davis celebrate one more title despite Giannis Antetokounmpo having an 2001 Allen Iverson-like impact in the Finals.

Bold Pick: Nets over Jazz

Despite all the question marks, the Nets hit a perfect storm of health, offensive balance and wash.

Berry Tramel, Oklahoma City Oklahoman

Eastern Conference finals

Safe pick: Nets over Sixers. Brooklyn has the offense. Philly has the defense. Offense wins these days.

Bold pick: Bucks over Sixers. Jrue Holiday is a difference-maker for Milwaukee. The Bucks traded a deep roster for a deep star roster.

Western Conference finals

Safe pick: Jazz over Lakers. Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles and Donovan Mitchell give the Jazz enough offense, and Utah plays a little defense, too.

Bold pick: Lakers over Jazz. Should my safe and bold be swapped? A 7-seed never has won the West, but this 7-seed has LeBron and Anthony Davis.

NBA Finals

Safe pick: Nets over Jazz. Brooklyn has become Golden State East. The team everyone loves to hate, but mostly unbeatable.

Bold pick: Bucks over Lakers. Fifty years after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar plants a title flag in Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo does the same.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA playoff preview picks: Is Nets over Jazz a safe bet? Some of our experts think so

2021 NBA Playoffs: Nets vs. Celtics odds, line, picks, Game 4 predictions from model on 99-66 roll .
SportsLine's projection model simulated Celtics vs. Nets 10,000 timesDamian Lillard and the Blazers are making a run toward the West's fifth seed.

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