The NBA playoffs begin Saturday without a clear-cut favorite, leaving the race for the 2022 championship wide open.
The Phoenix Suns have the best odds, but they are by no means an overwhelming favorite. Despite a dominant regular season, are the Suns being overlooked as the title favorite? Can the up-and-coming Memphis Grizzlies really break all the way through to a championship?
Just how do we gauge the Philadelphia 76ers? Or the Brooklyn Nets? And that is to say nothing of past champions like the Milwaukee Bucks and the Golden State Warriors who have the pedigree to get back to the NBA Finals.
With so many questions about the field, we broke down what each of the 16 playoff teams must do to win the 2022 NBA championship. While some teams are stronger contenders than others, everybody has a chance.
The NBA-best Suns have everything going from them: A top-five offense and defense, veteran leader (Chris Paul), MVP candidate (Devin Booker), Defensive Player of the Year candidate (Mikal Bridges), Coach of the Year candidate (Monty Williams) and, most importantly, experience after coming up short last year. If the Suns continue to do exactly what they did during the regular season, they will pick up their first NBA title.
Devin Booker and Steph Curry
Lock-down defense led by Jimmy Butler, Bad Adebayo and Kyle Lowry and just enough offense from a deep roster make the Heat a real possibility to win the title. With a top-five defense, top-12 offense and top-six net rating, the Heat also have a coach (Erik Spoelstra) with two championships.
PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS: Which teams are a safe bet to win the title?
A superstar (Ja Morant), a deep roster (10 players play at least 20 minutes per game), a Defensive Player of the Year candidate (Jaren Jackson Jr.) and just one of two teams in the top six in offensive and defensive efficiency, the Grizzlies have all in the ingredients necessary to win the franchise’s first championship.
Only the Suns (37-10) have been better than the Celtics (34-12) since the calendar flipped to 2022. If Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown continue to play at…