2021-22 NBA season predictions: Nets heavy favorites to reach Finals, beat LeBron James’ Lakers for title

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This season was supposed to be a return to normalcy for the NBA. The schedule is back in its proper place. Teams are playing 82 games again. COVID guidelines have been softened for the majority of the league, thanks to vaccinations. On the surface, it almost looks as though we’re about to tip off a traditional season of NBA basketball. 

And yet, the championship favorite is without one of its three All-Stars because of a choice that the All-Star has made. The Eastern Conference’s reigning No. 1 seed spent the entire offseason in a standoff with one of its cornerstones that failed to produce a trade, and the prohibitive Western Conference favorite cashed in its entire supporting cast for a third All-Star of its own. This is chaos. 

The chaos that, amazingly, has become the NBA’s norm in recent years. What could be more normal for #ThisLeague than kicking off the 75th anniversary season with league-wide drama and a suddenly wide-open championship race? To help you sort through the madness, our CBS Sports staff has picked everything from conference seeding to the eventual championship winner for the 2021-22 NBA season. Here’s how our experts expect this wild season to play out. 

If you’re late to the team preview party and need to cram before the opening tip, here’s a look at all 30 teams’ rosters, key offseason moves and biggest questions entering the campaign. If you missed our Top 100 player rankings entering the season, check that out, as well as our awards predictions for the upcoming season.

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Western Conference Seeding

Eastern Conference Seeding

Western Conference Finals

Eastern Conference Finals

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