By Stefan Anderson
The Playoffs are here and the Western Conference is an all-around juggernaut with great games in each matchup. Let’s take a look and make predictions on the Wild Wild West.
(1) Warriors vs. (8) Pelicans : Many might highlight the huge game winner over the Thunder, but the April 7thwin over the Warriors is what helped New Orleans reach that 8th seed in the Western Conference.
Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis stated “We look at ourselves as an elite team. We feel like we can play with anybody and we can beat anybody on any given night”. New Orleans will have that same character to complete a first round upset over the Warriors. But Golden State has the best team in and has an abundance of styles they can play with.
The fear of the Warriors high pace game to slow down with the playoffs is their biggest worry but their depth can solve that solution easily. The Pelicans bring a physical style but can move with small ball as well, and can compete with Golden State most nights if they can contain them under 100 points.
Overall, it’s going to be a tough feat for the Pelicans therefore, I am going with Golden State in 6.
(2) Rockets vs. (7) Mavericks: After surviving the toughest division in the NBA on top, the Southwest, and The Houston Rockets have to face their first test, the battle tested Mavericks in a Texas showdown.
The Rockets have been impressive all season without their defensive anchor in all-star Dwight Howard, but it will be interesting to see how they respond to the former DPOY’s return.
With the loss of Patrick Beverly, this could be the perfect opportunity for the underachieving Rajon Rondo to have his redemption against the aging Pablo Prigioni and Jason Terry.
I look for the Rockets to feature Harden at the 1 in a lineup alongside Brewer, Ariza, Smith and Howard that could present problems on both ends of the floor for the Mavs.
Overall, I think Houston has more firepower than Dallas and scrapes away this series in a 7th game win.
(3) Clippers vs. (6) Spurs: For the LA Clippers their window of the opportunity is closing in on them and have put the pressure on themselves but one thing is the way, The Spurs. San Antonio who has been on cruise control the entire season and fret about the window of opportunity closing .
To fear the Spurs is understatement, because you can never expect less than a hard fought series out of the defending champs. The Clippers on the other hand have yet find playoff success since the resurgence of the franchise a few season ago. LA will have to find offensive output from their role players like Matt Barnes and J.J. Redick which is asking a lot.
With the health of Tiago Splitter in question, DJ and Blake Griffin can take the battle down low that will extend the series a game or two, or possibly taking the series.
Overall, I would be crazy to bet against San Antonio, which is the reason why I am taking them in 6.
(4) Blazers vs. (5) Grizzlies: The heart of the West always collides in the 4-5 series and this year is no different. The Grizzlies grinded their way into another playoff spot and will have to face the great play of Portland. This matchup is going to heavyweight bout between the two, with the battle of the bigs Gasol/Randolph versus Aldrige/Lopez and not to mention guards Lillard and Conley fighting to make their conversation amongst the elite point guards in the league.
But the key to the series is the wings for each team, Portland has Affalo, Batum and off the bench McCollum and Blake, while Memphis features Allen and Green with Vince Carter and Courtney Lee off the bench. The key each to team to gain the edge amongst each other it will come from these players.
Overall, this is going to be a hard fought battle that goes to the Grizzlies in Game 7. I think Memphis grinds their way past Rip City.