The 2022 Playoffs are finally here! Nike recently unveiled the Mantra t-shirts each team will sport throughout the postseason. Each squad has personalized team mantras printed across the front of their shirts, and the slogans aren’t just for aesthetics. They represent each club’s unique journey to the playoffs and serve as a uniting symbol for all 16 teams fighting for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Last year the Miami Heat got swept in the first round of the playoffs. This season they are the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Behind stars Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry, the Heat are determined to have a completely different outcome this postseason. They are fueled by their “White Hot” mantra, which dates back to their 2006 championship season.
The 17 banners hanging from the rafters at the TD Garden in Boston is something to be proud of. As one of the winningest franchises in NBA history, the “Celtic Pride” mantra needs little explanation. The Celtics enter the playoffs as the No. 2 seed, overcoming a shaky start to the season to finish with a 51-31 record.
The reigning champs proved their 2021 title win wasn’t a fluke by posting a stellar 51-31 record, good enough for the No. 3 seed in the East. Led by six-time All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee is primed for another deep run. After dealing with several injuries to key players throughout the regular season, the Bucks are fully healthy and whole at just the right time to defend their crown.
Philadelphia is a place where sports fandom runs deep. The Sixers have the support of the entire city and are looking to reach new heights after an abrupt playoff exit last season. Philly is poised to be the last team standing this time around. Led by NBA scoring champion Joel Embiid and the prolific James Harden. The “Phila Unite” mantra will unite an entire city for the Sixers’ much-anticipated playoff run.
The Raptors have a coach in Nick Nurse and several key players like Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet who already have championship experience and are eager to add another trophy come June. Using a very balanced roster, Toronto is primed to make noise in the East as the 5th seed. The mantra “We The North” takes on the identity of an entire country, and it will fuel the Raptors in the playoffs as it has in years past.
DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine lead a hard-working group that brings their A-game and nothing less every time they step on the court. The revamped 46-36 Bulls and their fans “See Red” as soon as the ball is tipped. The road to the title will not be easy, but Chicago charges on with its eyes on the prize.
Brooklyn knows what it feels like to have lofty expectations. After suffering a heartbreaking Game 7 defeat in last season’s East Semifinals, the Nets entered 2021-22 with championship aspirations and have a legitimate chance to make a deep run in these playoffs. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving lead a Brooklyn team that has battled through a lot of adversity to make it to the postseason, and in order to become champions, Brooklyn will need to take their game to the “Nets Level.”
“Believe Atlanta” is a call out to the Hawks’ loyal fanbase to rally behind them throughout the playoffs. After making a surprising appearance in the conference finals last year, the 2021-22 regular season didn’t go exactly as Atlanta planned. They might have had to go through the Play-In Tournament to qualify for the postseason, but the Hawks are always a threat when Trae Young is on the court.
Phoenix knows what it takes to go the distance. After a bittersweet Finals run last season, the Suns return to this year’s playoffs even better, posting an impressive 64-18 record and earning the top overall seed. The path to the NBA Championship goes through the Valley, but Chris Paul, Devin Booker and company will still need every ounce of fan support. “Rally the Valley” is a rallying cry to the Phoenix faithful to bring the noise each game and put opponents on notice for the challenge that’s in store.
The Grizzlies have been one of the most exciting teams in the NBA all season. From punching their playoff ticket via the Play-in Tournament last year to climbing up to the No. 2 seed this season, Memphis plans to make serious noise in these playoffs. The Grizzlies are historically known as “Grind City,” and they live up to the moniker night in and night out.
Golden State aims to recapture playoff glory after a strong season featured the return of the team core while injecting new talent to form a fresh recipe for success. Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, Draymond Green and the rest of the revitalized Warriors endured many challenges but ultimately persevered to earn the No. 3 seed out West. “Gold Blooded” represents the deep bond between Dub Nation and the team. The Warriors and their fans will be in lockstep every step of the way in the race for the Larry O’Brien trophy.
The Mavericks have been looking to reclaim postseason success since their Dirk Nowitzki-led NBA championship in 2011. The “Dallas In” mantra is a nod to Mavs’ fans consistent loyalty to their squad. The Dallas faithful will be in full support of their beloved Mavs in hope that another international superstar can take them to the promised land once again.
After a conference semifinals exit last season, the Jazz are looking to make a leap this go around. The dynamic duo of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert will surely make some noise before it’s all said and done. Utah’s mantra entering the postseason is “Take Note.” This is an ode to their team nickname, but also serves as a warning to the opposition.
No one embodies Denver’s mantra more than its relentless leader, Nikola Jokic. “The Joker” carried a heavy load all season to get his squad to the playoffs, and they shouldn’t be overlooked. The Nuggets may not be at full strength, but they’ve shown all year how resilient they can be. With Jokic leading the way, Denver has as good of a chance as any team to make a deep run.
The Timberwolves’ playoff mantra is embodied by their young stars who have been growing up in front of their loyal fans very eyes all season. Up-and-coming standouts like Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell showed their growth in Minnesota’s emotional Play-In win against the Clippers to punch their ticket to the postseason. With Edwards and Russell finding their groove, and Karl-Anthony Towns at the helm, the Wolves are looking to turn some heads in the playoffs.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans proved they’re ready for the limelight by winning two hard-fought Play-In games to clinch a spot in the playoffs, including a gritty comeback win over the Clippers to secure the No. 8 seed out West. New Orleans’ “One Nola” mantra is appropriate because the Pelicans and their fans will unite as one in hopes of putting the rest of the league on notice this postseason.