Seven Captivating 2022 NBA Playoff Storylines

Dramatic Interactions and Team Matchups Drive this Year’s Playoff Picture


The 2022 NBA Playoffs bring fresh storylines for all fans

Davis Cuffe and Grayson Cuffe

The NBA tipped off last year in October and over one thousand total games later between thirty teams we have arrived at the climax of the NBA season, the NBA playoffs. There’s plenty of good basketball to go around but we at the Green Hope Falcon have compiled our top seven storylines to watch for as the playoffs go on.

The Expectations of the Phoenix Suns

After falling to the Bucks in last year’s NBA Finals many expected a slump or at least a slow start for the Suns. They instead got even better starting with a 19-3 record, winning eighteen games straight, breaking their franchise win streak record in the process. Phoenix carried this momentum through the season, finishing with a 64-18 record, eight wins more than the next best team. The last four teams to finish eight or more games better than the second-best team all have gone on to win the NBA finals. Success brings expectations, and the Suns are in line for plenty of both and with Devin Booker out for their first-round matchup, they may face their biggest challenge yet.

Timberwolves and Grizzlies Fight for the Future of the Western Conference

Unlike the aforementioned Phoenix Suns, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies are two of the five youngest teams in the league. While their age sets them apart, their success does not. The Memphis Grizzlies were second in the league in wins, and the Timberwolves doubled their wins from last season to secure a seven seed. Both teams have fiery personalities that will make this series a must-watch. Some players to watch for include: Patrick Beverley, a Timberwolves point guard who is known for his aggressive defense and elaborate celebrations, Ja Morant, an MVP candidate and one of the most electric players in the league, known to not back down from anyone, and Anthony Edwards a dominant scorer with must-see post-game interviews. Both teams are among the top of the league in terms of pace and scoring so be ready for fireworks in this first-round matchup.

Warriors on the Rise

In 2019 the Toronto Raptors won their first-ever NBA Finals and Kyle Lowry and Masai Ujiri’s hard work had finally paid off. On the other side of the Raptors’ win, were the Golden State Warriors who had won the title three of the last four years. After their loss to the Raptors they lost 2018 Finals MVP Kevin Durant to free agency and all-star Klay Thompson to free agency. Just like that the dynasty that looked to three-peat in the Finals was in jeopardy. Following that season the Warriors missed the playoffs two years in a row. Fortunately for them, after a quick rebuild adding Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, and getting Klay Thompson back from injury, the Warriors are back. Already in their first four games, the Warriors have shown how serious of a Finals contender they are, going up 3-1 with three players averaging twenty or more points in the series. Those three players, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Jordan Poole, have been impossible to guard. In a playoff bracket with a hurt Suns team and a young Memphis group, they are the clear frontrunners to make it out of the Western Conference.


Kyrie vs Boston

Perhaps the best matchup of the first round, Boston vs Brooklyn, a series with two of the top teams in the league facing off in the first round of play. In game one Kyrie Irving scored 39 points and went back and forth talking to Boston fans, even giving them the middle finger after hitting a three. Kyrie’s history with Celtic fans has been rocky and this situation is nothing new. After promising the Boston that he was going to stay in free agency, Irving left and joined KD on the Nets in 2019 which didn’t sit well with fans. He’s now being targeted by fans and not backing down, responding with the same energy and almost beating the Celtics by himself. But despite Kyrie’s effort, Boston’s defense has shut down Kevin Durant in both games and slowed down Kyrie in game two, holding them to 8/30 from the field and even forcing Durant to shoot 0/10 from the field in the second half. On the other side of the matchup, the Celtics have put in the work on the defensive end, especially Jayson Tatum, who has led the team in scoring and been tasked with guarding Kevin Durant. This series looks to be over for the Nets as they head into game four down 3-0, and overall this series has exposed the Nets weaknesses and highlighted the Celtics prolific defense. Boston looks to continue their defensive stand against Giannis and the Bucks who look like they’re going to come out on top against the Bulls.

76ers Redemption Tour

For the last few years, the playoffs have been disastrous for the Philadelphia 76ers. Going all the way back to 2019 the 76ers looked destined for greatness with a loaded roster that had stars at each position. In the second round they ran into the Kawhi Leonard-led Raptors, the series went to seven games and ended in Kawhi hitting one of the most infamous shots in NBA history. The 76ers retooled in 2020 spending over 200 million dollars in free agency to ensure playoff success. That 200 million went to waste as the 76ers were swept in four games in the first round. The 76ers fix upped the roster yet again in 2021 adding versatility and shooting around their point guard Ben Simmons who, to put it plainly, could not shoot. For a while it looked like these adjustments would be the solutions for the 76ers playoff woes, they won their first-round matchup in five games and had won nearly 50 games in the regular season, earning them the number one seed in the east. Then the notorious Ben Simmons “disaster-class” happened in the second round. Simmons was completely exposed offensively and shot 38.6% from the free-throw line through the seven games series. With Simmons being borderline unplayable for those seven games, the Sixers lost in disastrous fashion, giving up leads in almost every game. Flash forward to today, the Sixers have revamped their roster yet again, trading Ben Simmons for 2018 MVP James Harden and drafting budding star Tyrese Maxey. As of today, the Sixers have a commanding 3-1 lead on the Toronto Raptors, if they can continue this success is something every NBA fan will be watching for.

Make or Break Year for the Utah Jazz

Much like the 76ers, the Jazz have been disappointing in the playoffs, to say the least. A team that is consistently a top seed in the west, the Jazz can’t seem to take that next step in the playoffs. Contrasting the 76ers the Jazz have chosen not to retool or revamp their roster but choose to simply run it back with their core centered around Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. This lack of change has led to little success and plenty of frustration from young star Donovan Mitchell who voiced his frustration in an interview with Sports Illustrated earlier this season stating, “ “I don’t know. It’s the same [thing]. I don’t know, it feels the same way. It’s the same thing, it’s literally the same thing.” So far in the playoffs, Mitchell’s concerns have proved to be valid with the Jazz currently tied 2-2 with the Dallas Mavericks, who are without their superstar Luka Doncic. Unfortunately for the Jazz there seemingly isn’t a quick fix. The NBA community, fans, and analysts alike can’t decide where to place the blame. Is it the fact that Donovan Mitchell passes the ball to their superstar center Rudy Gobert twice a game, leading to Gobert’s lack of offensive involvement, or the fact that the Jazz have immensely struggled with perimeter defense, allowing the Mavericks to make 17 uncontested threes in game two, the most by any team in the last ten years. While the root of the Jazz’s problems isn’t clear, one thing is for sure, time is running out on this Jazz team’s window of success and they need a solution immediately.

Milwaukee Looks to Repeat

It wouldn’t be a playoff article without talking about your reigning champions, the Milwaukee Bucks are yet again in a position to make a run. Their best player, Giannis Antetokounmpo who was the Finals MVP last year after averaging 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in the 2021 finals, is in conversation for most improved player this year after adding a mid-range shot and improving on his overall shooting. Much like the Suns, the Bucks have retained much of their roster and have been nearly just as good as they were in 2021. This year the Bucks won five more games than they did last year and improved on their offensive rating, pushing them to third in the league in offensive rating and third in the east heading into the playoffs. Yet again mirroring the Suns, the team’s second star Khris Middleton, is injured with a sprained MCL and is projected to miss the remainder of the first round. This means the Bucks may have to step it up even further in order to go back to back.

The first round of the playoffs is hardly halfway over and it’s already been overwhelmingly entertaining, be sure to tune in every night to see how the rest of the playoffs play out. Enjoy your basketball Falcons!