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NBA predictions: Experts' picks for East finals, West finals, NBA Finals and LeBron's pursuit of history

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Stephen A.'s surprise pick to face the Warriors in the Finals (1:28)

Stephen A. Smith gives his NBA Finals prediction with the Warriors coming out of the West and the Nets coming out of the East. (1:28)

The NBA season tips off tonight, but we're already looking forward to the postseason -- and to a major milestone for an all-time great.

Four months ago, the Golden State Warriors jumpstarted their dynasty with a six-game Finals victory over the Boston Celtics. And while our expert panel places the defending champs among the contenders to reach the Finals again in 2023, we weren't as kind to the Celtics.

Many of the votes were cast for the team Boston ousted in last season's epic seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal series: the Milwaukee Bucks.

In the Western Conference, the LA Clippers were a trendy pick among our panel, and rightfully so. The elite two-way duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George is healthy and leading one of the league's deepest teams.

What about LeBron James' chase for the all-time scoring title? James is 1,325 points behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's mark, so we should expect the record to be broken some time near the 2022-23 season's second half.

Our experts are crunching the numbers and opening their calendars to predict when history will be made, as well as revealing their picks for East finals, West finals and NBA Finals champs.

MORE: What to know for '22-23 | LeBron's path to the scoring record

East Finals


Jerry Bembry: Bucks over Nets in 6

Tim Bontemps: Bucks over Celtics in 6

Jamal Collier: Bucks over 76ers in 6

Nick DePaula: Bucks over 76ers in 6

Nick Friedell: Bucks over Celtics in 7

Kirk Goldsberry: Bucks over Heat in 6

Israel Gutierrez: Heat over 76ers in 6

Tim Legler: Bucks over 76ers in 7

Andrew Lopez: Bucks over 76ers in 6

Tim MacMahon: Bucks over 76ers in 7

Bobby Marks: 76ers over Bucks in 7

Dave McMenamin: Bucks over 76ers in 6

Kevin Pelton: Bucks over Celtics in 6

Jorge Sedano: Bucks over Heat in 7

Ramona Shelburne: Bucks over 76ers in 7

André Snellings: Bucks over 76ers in 7

Marc J. Spears: Nets over 76ers in 7

Ohm Youngmisuk: Bucks over 76ers in 6


Final tally: Bucks 15, 76ers 1, Heat 1, Nets 1.

West Finals


Jerry Bembry: Clippers over Warriors in 7

Tim Bontemps: Clippers over Warriors in 6

Jamal Collier: Clippers over Warriors in 7

Nick DePaula: Warriors over Clippers in 6

Nick Friedell: Warriors over Nuggets in 6

Kirk Goldsberry: Warriors over Clippers in 7

Israel Gutierrez: Nuggets over Mavericks in 7

Tim Legler: Warriors over Suns in 6

Andrew Lopez: Clippers over Warriors in 7

Tim MacMahon: Warriors over Clippers in 6

Bobby Marks: Clippers over Warriors in 6

Dave McMenamin: Clippers over Nuggets in 5

Kevin Pelton: Clippers over Warriors in 7

Jorge Sedano: Warriors over Clippers in 7

Ramona Shelburne: Grizzlies over Clippers in 7

André Snellings: Warriors over Lakers in 6

Marc J. Spears: Warriors over Clippers in 7

Ohm Youngmisuk: Clippers over Warriors in 7


Final tally: Clippers 8, Warriors 8, Grizzlies 1, Nuggets 1.

NBA Finals


Jerry Bembry: Bucks over Clippers in 6

Tim Bontemps: Bucks over Clippers in 6

Jamal Collier: Bucks over Clippers in 7

Nick DePaula: Bucks over Warriors in 6

Nick Friedell: Bucks over Warriors in 7

Kirk Goldsberry: Bucks over Warriors in 7

Israel Gutierrez: Heat over Nuggets in 7

Tim Legler: Warriors over Bucks in 6

Andrew Lopez: Bucks over Clippers in 6

Tim MacMahon: Bucks over Warriors in 6

Bobby Marks: Clippers over 76ers in 6

Dave McMenamin: Clippers over Milwaukee in 6

Kevin Pelton: Bucks over Clippers in 6

Jorge Sedano: Bucks over Warriors in 7

Ramona Shelburne: Bucks over Grizzlies in 6

André Snellings: Bucks over Warriors in 7

Marc J. Spears: Warriors over Nets in 6

Ohm Youngmisuk: Clippers over Bucks in 7


Final tally: Bucks 12, Clippers 3, Warriors 2, Heat 1.

When will LeBron break the all-time scoring record?


Jerry Bembry: March 17 vs. Mavericks

Tim Bontemps: Jan. 28 at Celtics

Jamal Collier: Feb. 11 at Warriors

Nick DePaula: Jan. 31 at Knicks

Nick Friedell: Feb. 11 at Warriors

Kirk Goldsberry: Feb. 9 vs. Bucks

Israel Gutierrez: March 5 vs. Warriors

Tim Legler: Feb. 26 at Mavericks

Andrew Lopez: Feb. 15 vs. Pelicans

Tim MacMahon: Feb. 26 at Mavericks

Bobby Marks: Feb. 11 at Warriors

Dave McMenamin: March 5 vs. Warriors

Kevin Pelton: March 12 vs. Knicks

Jorge Sedano: Feb. 9 vs. Bucks

Ramona Shelburne: March 31 at Timberwolves

André Snellings: Jan. 31 at Knicks

Marc J. Spears: Feb. 9 vs. Bucks

Ohm Youngmisuk: Feb. 9 vs. Bucks