WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS
Portland v. Phoenix: The Phoenix Suns have been playing like the Suns of old. Amare Stoudamire finally looks like the beast he was a few years ago. Steve Nash is still one of the top point guards in the league. They’re facing a depleted Portland team without their star Brandon Roy. Marcus Camby is one of those proven “losers” who will never be on a winning team. I like Batum, LaMarcus and A-Miller but they just don’t have enough firepower without Roy. Neither one of these teams is advancing past the second round anyway. I’ll take the Suns in 7.
Dallas v. San Antonio: Remember a couple months ago when the Mavericks were streaking, I think they won 13 in a row? Well, streaks over now. The Caron Butler hype has died down. It’s the Spurs that are playing the best basketball in the West. It’s too bad these two teams had to match up in the first round. While offensively both these teams have the ability to win the game, same ol’ story for the Mavs…no defense, no fundamentals. Enter the “Big F” himself in Tim Duncan, with the best offseason pickup of the year in Richard Jefferson, and you got a recipe for success. As long as Tony Parker can play like he used to, and Ginobli continue what he’s doing, the Spurs should take this series in 6, and the only reason it goes that far is ’cause the Mavs have home court advantage.
Utah v. Denver : This is going to be the most interesting match-up in the first round. I would love to see the Nuggets fail (man do I hate J.R. Smith) but they just have a little more swagger and tougness than the Jazz. Carmelo Anthony is a bonafide superstar that can take over any game and Mr. Big Shot Billups has been to the promised land and knows hot to get there again. I am concerned however about the depth of the Jazz. Paul Milsap has been a bust since signing that big offseason contract extension. Boozer and D-Will are solid but there’s no one else that you can rely on (maybe Okur). Jazz are hurting at shooting guard and small forward, AK-47 is injured. Kyle Korver can only shoot 3s. It’s gonna be gritty but the Nuggets should wrap this up in 5.
Oklahoma City v. Lakers: Now on paper, you would take the Lakers in 4. BUT, the Lakers have taken care of business all year. They don’t put teams away when they should. Their bench has been MIA all year. Kobe’s finger is STILL an issue. Bynum’s health is still in question. With that said, I do expect a HUGE series from Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. Nobody is gonna be able to stop these guys. The Thunder, on the other hand, have nothing to lose. Kevin Durant is having an MVP type season. But that’s it. Russell Westbrook FG% and 3pt% is horrible. Sure, he can drive and dish and dunk but if he can’t stretch the defense with his outside shooting, they’re gonna have problems. Plus, with the size the Lakers have, I don’t think the Thunder is going to do much in the paint. Look for the Lakers to outshine the Thunder, LA in 4 (did I just say that?)
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