My Western Conference Playoff Predictions
Everyone is doing it, it seems. So, thought I'd make my own. I didn't do as much research as Mike Rice or EwoynAmarie has, but, I do watch the NBA more than most people, and I do know each team probably better than most fans do, and I'm always watching the standings (I was cheering when Portland was the number one team since they were the first to go 2-0)
So, based on how the season has been going, the recent changes, and what is expected to change, I have come up with this playoff bracket. I do not want to get into determining the number of wins each team will have, as that always seems to jinx it, for us. So, here is how I think the season will lead us.
1 - San Antonio Spurs
2 - Dallas Mavericks
3 - Los Angelos Lakers
4 - Oklahoma City Thunder
5 - Portland Trail Blazers
6 - New Orleans Hornets
7 - Memphis Grizzlies
8 - Phoenix Suns
I previously had Utah, but I think Phoenix will pass them. Phoenix has played a lot less games than most teams, and is only 1 or 2 losses behind Utah, who has lost 13 of their last 17 games. I think Denver will lose Carmelo Anthony before the deadline. Even if he doesn't leave, I don't see the Nuggets getting anywhere this season, or in the playoffs. The Grizzlies are right behind them at 31-26, which is tied with Utah. Memphis and Phoenix seem to be on the rise while Denver and Utah are falling hard. Even New Orleans is falling, but they are still one of the better teams in the league.
This prediction also assumes Brandon comes back and is able to put up 10-15 or more a night consistently, and assuming Marcus Camby comes back strong. I think we will challenge OKC for the final spot, but we have the harder schedule.
Now, let's talk about the first round.
Spurs vs Suns - Spurs in 5
Mavericks vs Grizzlies - Mavericks in 6 or 7
Lakers vs Hornets - Lakers in 5
Thunder vs Blazers - Blazers in 6
The Spurs seemed to use everything to beat Dallas, and couldn't find an answer for Phoenix. Phoenix however may be going into rebuilding mode (if so, they won't reach the playoffs, Utah likely will). They lost a lot of the keys that led them against the Spurs in Richardson and Amar'e. Also, the Spurs seem like they're 10x better. Phoenix will be lucky to win 1 (or Utah)
The Mavs on the other hand are probably going to wipe the floor with the Grizzlies, or make them seem like a legitimate contender in the playoffs. Either a sweep or a 6-7 game series. They need to bring the intensity in the playoffs. Chandler vs Randolph will be an interesting matchup to watch.
The Lakers will likely wipe the floor with the Hornets as well, and I see the Hornets only winning one home game against the Lakers.
The Thunder vs Blazers matchup is going to be the best first round matchup of the season. I see the Blazers winning game 1 in OKC, and winning the rest of the home games. These two teams match up well, but since we have the crafty veterans, and LaMarcus 2.0, I don't think the Thunder have enough to beat the Blazers in 7 games.
Spurs vs Blazers - Spurs in 7 games
Mavs vs Lakers - Lakers in 7 games
Going to be an amazing semi-finals this season.
The Blazers have a good shot of beating the Spurs, but the Spurs have a better shot at beating the Blazers. This will be a close series, but I think the Spurs have the veteranship and defense to prevent the Blazers from winning on the road. The Blazers on the other hand are great at defending their homecourt.
Mavs vs Lakers should be a close series, and could go either way, but the Mavs choke, while the Lakers have ice in their veins when it matters. That is why I give them the edge.
Western Conference Finals
Spurs vs Lakers - Spurs in 6
Yep, the Spurs are going to dethrone the Lakers.