6 biggest surprises from the 2022 NBA Playoffs

Sounds crazy now, but the Brooklyn Nets were — in the very reasonable opinion of some in the basketball world — a potential title favorite prior to the season. Wait, it gets even crazier: Durant has now won exactly one playoff round since leaving the Golden State Warriors via free agency in 2019. Some context is needed, of course.

1. Kevin Durant (and the Nets) humbled

Brunson is a solid, smart guard who took a solid leap during the regular season, starting 61 games, averaging 16.3 ppg. Some of that, in all fairness, perhaps was due to playing next to Luka Doncic and enjoying the freedom that such a role entails.

2. Introducing Jalen Brunson

Let’s examine the curious career path of Horford: He surprisingly left the Celtics three years ago by opting out and bolted to Philadelphia in a money grab (four years, $97 million). He immediately proved a poor fit next to Joel Embiid and became the target of jeers in Philly, especially after Horford famously flamed out in the bubble.

3. Al Horford, alive and well

Coach Steve Kerr had a problem — a good one, but still — once Jordan Poole developed beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. When the playoffs arrived and Stephen Curry healed up and Poole’s time as a starter seemed over, Kerr had to make a choice, and he did.

4. Warriors go small, come up big

The player who led the league in total points and total assists this season was muffled in the first round. The Hawks, who appeared in the 2021 Eastern Conference finals, were ousted in five games by a Miami team that didn’t have Kyle Lowry for two of them and Jimmy Butler missing one.

5. Trae Young, solved

There’s an understandable learning curve and amount of jitters that come with making your playoff debut, but you couldn’t tell that this year. A handful of young players, barely out of their teens, seemed right at home, in fact, in the heat of the post-season.

6. Youngsters not scared