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Apr
17
2015

NBA: Western Conference Playoffs Preview

Western-Conference-Logo#1 Golden State Warriors vs. #8 New Orleans Pelicans

Season Series: 3-1 Warriors

The Golden State Warriors finished the season with the best record in the NBA (67-15) and enter the NBA Playoffs as early favorites to win the title. With home court advantage on their side, its hard to pick against the Warriors who went . With Anthony Davis looking to play the part of spoiler, this could be a fun series to watch as well.

If New Orleans wins, it’ll be due in part to the performance of Anthony Davis. The Pelicans need Davis to stay healthy and out of foul trouble to even have a chance with the Warriors. With a plethora of defenders at their disposal, expect Golden State to send multiple bigs (Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut, David Lee, etc.) in Davis’ direction to frustrate him and force him to take tough shots. If the Pelicans can keep to their slow and controlled tempo while allowing Davis to roam free on offense and defense, Golden State could be in trouble.

If Golden State wins, it’ll be due to their overwhelming defense. The Warriors score 110 points a game and only allow just below a 100 points per game on average, which is the biggest point differential among any other team in the league. Their goal is to speed you up and force you to take quick shots so they can run the break and spread the floor. It remains to be seen if Golden State can play with this strategy in the playoffs but its hard to ignore a team that leads the league in points and assists per game (27.4).

Prediction: Golden State in 6

 

#2 Houston Rockets vs. #7 Dallas Mavericks

Season Series: 3-1 Rockets

The Houston Rockets could very easily sneak in the Western Conference Finals this year but it all depends on which Dwight Howard shows up to play. As of late, Howard has looked focus down the stretch offensively and defensively, allowing James Harden to work the offense and cleaning up the glass. However, this Dallas Mavericks team isn’t one to sleep on.

If the Mavericks win, credit Rick Carlisle for getting Rajon Rondo to buy in to his system. The Rondo Experiment has been everything but stellar since Dallas acquired him in December. The Mavericks still managed to limp their way in to the playoffs and Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis have a winner’s attitude when it comes to the playoffs. If Rondo can figure out his role, Dallas could pull of an upset.

If the Rockets win, we’re just going to chalk it up to James Harden’s clutch gene. Harden may not win the MVP, but either way he’s ready for this moment. He led the Rockets all year and it’s been with his ability to not only score but get his teammates involved as well. He’s got Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones behind him on defense and as we all know playoff basketball = physical basketball.

Prediction: Rockets in 5

 

#3 Los Angeles Clippers vs. #6 San Antonio Spurs

Season Series: 2-2 Split

Based on records and divisions, the Spurs are 6th in the Western Conference and it’s no wonder Doc Rivers was upset about seeding. Fact still remains, you can’t change the rules. So here we have the Clippers against the Spurs in what will definitely be a 7 game series.

If the Spurs win, DeAndre Jordan shot a lot of free throws. Gregg Popovich doesn’t care about ratings so much as winning and it’s a known fact around the NBA that DeAndre Jordan can’t shoot free throws. If the Spurs win, they employed their “Hack a Shaq” strategy in order to slow down the Clippers and make them play at their pace. If this series goes to 7 games, you know who to pick.

If the Clippers win, Chris Paul can finally put some trust in his teammates. When games get close, Chris Paul gets too focused on doing everything by himself. If he can trust in Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to get easy baskets and stay out of foul trouble, he’ll definitely be successful in the playoffs.

Prediction: Spurs in 7

 

#4 Portland Trailblazers vs. #5 Memphis Grizzlies

Season Series: 4-0 Grizzlies

This series will be interesting The Grizzlies are a gritty team but they finished the season with starting guard Mike Conley out with a right foot sprain and their best defender Tony Allen missed the final 9 games with a left hamstring injury. The 4/5 series is always interesting in the NBA though so this won’t fall short.

If Portland wins, it’s due to the stellar play of Damian Lillard. He played hero for Portland in last season’s playoffs, draining a 3 pointer as time expired last year to send Portland to the 2nd round past Houston in six games. With Conley on the mend, Lillard definitely has a clear advantage and definitely could capitalize on it, of course with help from big man LaMarcus Aldridge.

If Memphis wins, Jeff Green will begin to be the #1 option all playoffs. There’s Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Tony Alen, Mike Conley, but the X Factor in this series is Jeff Green. If Memphis uses him as an offensive threat, look out. Green has yet to really come out of his shell in Memphis but things change when you’re on the big stage.

Prediction: Memphis in 6 


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