The conference finals are set for the 2022 NBA Playoffs. In the East, the top-seeded Miami Heat will take on the No. 2 seed Boston Celtics. In the West, the No. 3 seed Golden State Warriors will face the No. 4 seed Dallas Mavericks. The winners of each series will meet in the 2022 NBA Finals.
The Celtics are the hottest team in the NBA right now. Boston was sitting in ninth-place in the Eastern Conference on Feb. 1 before closing the regular season on a tear behind the league’s No. 1 defense. After beating Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets in round one, the Celtics took out the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo in round two in a thrilling seven-game series. The Heat never needed a late season surge. Miami has been near or at the top of the East all season, and they’re back in the conference finals only two years after reaching the NBA Finals in the bubble in 2020. Many of the main characters in Miami remain, with Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and head coach Erik Spoelstra still squarely in the spotlight. The Heat punched their ticket to the conference finals after outlasting Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks in round one and a talented Philadelphia 76ers team in round two. Miami also finished in the top five in defensive rating this year, but their offense — which finished No. 12 — has occasionally ran into problems scoring in the halfcourt.
The Golden State Warriors failed to make the playoffs last season, but they’ve been one of the league’s best teams since the start of the season this year. Stephen Curry and Draymond Green remain franchise pillars, and Klay Thompson is finally back from injury after missing two straight seasons. The new Warriors sensation is 22-year-old guard Jordan Poole, who gives Golden State a necessary injection of speed, creation, and shooting. The Warriors beat an injured Denver Nuggets team in round one before beating the Memphis Grizzlies in six games in round two. Meanwhile, the Mavs are the most surprising team still left standing. Dallas just knocked off a Phoenix Suns team that won a league-high 64 games in the regular season to punch its ticket to the conference finals. Luka Doncic feels like the best player remaining in the playoffs, and Dallas has done a great job getting wing defenders, playmakers, and shooters since last season. Head coach Jason Kidd deserves significant credit for creating the game plan that limited Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and the rest of the Phoenix’s attack.
Here’s the schedule for the conference finals, followed by a prediction below.
Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat schedule, start times, TV info, and more
Game 1: Celtics @ Heat, Tuesday, May 17, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Game 2: Celtics @ Heat, Thursday, May 19, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Game 3: Heat @ Celtics, Saturday, May 21, 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 4: Heat @ Celtics, Monday, May 23, 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC
*Game 5: Celtics @ Heat, Wednesday, May 25, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
*Game 6: Heat @ Celtics, Friday, May 27, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
*Game 7: Celtics @ Heat, Sunday, May 29, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
*Games 5-7 if necessary
Golden State Warriors vs. Dallas Mavericks schedule, TV times, and more
Game 1: Mavericks @ Warriors, Wednesday, May 18, 9:00 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 2: Mavericks @ Warriors, Friday, May 20, 9:00 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 3: Warriors @ Mavericks, Sunday, May 22, 9:00 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 4: Warriors @ Mavericks, Tuesday, May 24, 9:00 p.m. ET, TNT
*Game 5: Mavericks @ Warriors, Thursday, May 26, 9:00 p.m. ET, TNT
*Game 6: Warriors @ Mavericks, Saturday, May 28, 9:00 p.m. ET, TNT
*Game 7: Mavericks @ Warriors, Monday, May 30, 9:00 p.m. ET, TNT
*Games 5-7 if necessary
Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat NBA Playoffs prediction for 2022 Eastern Conference Finals
Celtics in 6: The big question going into this series is if Miami can score against Boston’s set defense. It seems unlikely. Boston is equipped to guard the Heat in the halfcourt with almost no weak defenders in the rotation. On the other end, it feels like Boston has enough spacing to stretch out the Heat defense and let Tatum go to work against a Heat defense with more weak spots. Miami star Jimmy Butler will put together a Herculean effort, but Boston just feels like the more complete team.
Golden State Warriors vs. Dallas Mavericks NBA Playoffs prediction for 2022 Western Conference Finals
Mavs in 6: This is an upset pick, but Dallas’ series win against the Suns was just that convincing. For all of Curry’s greatness, Doncic feels like the more overwhelming star right now. Dallas has two great wing defenders who can shoot in Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock, two extra creators in Jalen Bruson and Spencer Dinwiddie, and a head coach in Jason Kidd who pushed all the right buttons against a more talented Phoenix team. It will be fascinating to see if the Mavs’ ability to wear down Chris Paul can translate to Curry. Ultimately, it feels like Dallas is well equipped for the Warriors’ perimeter stars while Golden State doesn’t have a natural matchup for Doncic.