NBA Playoff Predictions Already Rolling In

April 12, 2024

The regular season of the NBA is coming quickly to a close. That can mean only one thing: Predictions and prognostication for the upcoming post-season tournament are hitting hard and fast. 

Coming up first, two play-in tournaments. One in the East, one West, of course. Out west, the Golden State Warriors are locked in and will play the Los Angeles Lakers. Meanwhile in the east, it’s looking like the play-in will be the Philadelphia 76ers against the Miami Heat. Winners of the play-in games will get into the full-on tournament as the 7th seed in their respective divisions.

Never one to hold back from a hot take and / or prediction, our man Shaq is already calling for the Heat to beat the Sixers in their upcoming Play-In game. 

On a recent edition of TNT’s Game Break, it all started with Sir Charles talking about the 76ers chances in the main NBA Tournament. Barkley said “If the Sixers hold onto the No. 7 spot, they will beat the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the NBA playoffs.” 

OK, that’s already a pretty hot start. But O’Neal would have none of it, saying “They are not beating the Heat in a playoff series. Don’t ever count out Jimmy Butler and the Heat because it’s not going to happen.”

That did not go over very well with the rest of the Game Break panel of commentators. But O’Neal stuck to his guns, saying the Heat would beat the 76ers “all day every day.” In the regular season, the Heat and the 76ers have played each other four times. The teams split the season series evenly, and all four games were decided by seven points or less.

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With only two games left in the regular season, it’s looking like the play-in will very much feature those Sixers and Heat. And if it does, it’ll be played at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly, since the 76ers are one game ahead of the Heat for the seventh seed, giving them a slight statistical advantage. 

O’Neal does have some history on his side when it comes to playoff predictions. The Heat reached the NBA Finals in 2023 after narrowly making it into the playoffs. The Heat also defeated the 76ers in six games during the Heat’s 2022 run to the Eastern Conference Finals. 

As for the remaining games… honestly, nothing special. The 76ers play the Orlando Magic tonight (as of this posting date) and end the year against the Brooklyn Nets. The Heat host the Toronto Raptors for their final two games of the year.

Now when it comes to playoff and tournament predictions, Shaq has even more to say, and he’s doing it on his very own Big Podcast. On the most recent episode, O’Neal called the Boston Celtics – the team with the best record in the NBA – “overrated.” 

On the podcast, Shaq says, “You’ve gotta show me. I’ve been around this league a long time, and seen a lot of guys that have had a great regular season and haven’t won championships…Consistency and dominant consistency. You’ve gotta do more. Every game, you’ve gotta go to another level.”

Yes, the Celtics have had really good teams in recent years, season to season. Yet they still haven’t’ been able to put their hands on the Championship trophy. There’s been a ton of playoff success in the Jayson Tatum / Jaylen Brown era… but only one NBA Finals appearance since 2010.

Playoff time is just around the corner… we can’t wait!

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