Western Conference

As we enter the playoffs the Los Angeles Lakers come in losing five of their last ten, hobbled with injuries and their back-up point guard is battling the chicken pox. The San Antonio Spurs who are the number one seed in the west are unsure of the production they’ll get with Manu Ginobli as he injured his right elbow in the final regular season game. The Dallas Mavericks will look to shed the image they have of being soft, while the Denver Nuggets strive to prove they can win even without Carmelo Anthony. The Memphis Grizzlies look to show that they are not your everyday eight seed. They match up pretty well against the Spurs along the front court with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, the issue they will face is can Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo slow down Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli. If Ginobli is healthy he’s the x factor for the Spurs, he creates his own shot and is as reckless with his body as any player in the league. However, if Ginobli isn’t healthy I give the Grizzlies a great chance to win this series in seven games… but I’ll lay my money on the Spurs to pull it out in six or seven. The Lakers should have a relatively easy road to the second round as they take on the New Orleans Hornets without their second best player David West. The Lakers have fought boredom and a listless attitude all season, but now they must bring a focus that will be important for them to have to win their third championship in a The Hornets with Chris Paul will cause issues for the Lakers point guards but with not much else on the team I don’t see how the Hornets having enough fire power to score enough with the Lakers. The Mavericks and Portland Trailblazers is an interesting series to watch. The Trailblazers are looking to get out of the first round since the 1999-2000 season. LaMarcus Aldridge has emerged as the scoring leader of this team since Brandon Roy’s injury, the addition of Gerald Wallace has given them another defend alongside Marcus Camby. Now with Brandon Roy coming off the bench, they have a legitimate scoring option with the reserves. The Mavericks in the series must find a way to be more physical than the Trailblazers, Dirk Nowitzki has the ability to score anywhere on the court, but he doesn’t post up often. If the Mavericks can also outrebound the Trailblazers and allow their three guard line up to get out to run and score in transition they should have no problem winning this series. The Mavericks should win this series, but it’ll go seven and I’d be the least surprised if the Trailblazers won either. The Nuggets take on the Oklahoma City Thunder. The difference in this series will be one team has a guy they can go to five times in a row and he can score. The other team doesn’t. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will give the Nuggets fits and as good as the Nuggets have played they don’t have one particular guy that can carry the team on their back. The Nuggets will make it close but in the end the Thunder will when in either six or seven. In the semi-finals the youthful Thunder will take on the number seeded Spurs. The Spurs will look to expose the Thunders’ youth with the experience of Tim Duncan, Parker and Ginobli. Nevertheless it won’t be enough to get them past a more athletic Thunder squad. With Westbrook and Durant will a one two punch that the Spurs won’t have an answer for. Duncan’s’ fading star will have his hands full guarding Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. This will be the series where Durant shows why he was the back to back scoring champion. The Mavericks vs. the Lakers is the next match-up in the second round. The Lakers by this round should have a healthy Bynum as well as a healthy Steve Blake who for the last week of the regular season was plagued by chicken pox. Having Blake back will give the Lakers second unit a floor general and another reliable shooter and ball handler. With no strong low post presence the Mavericks won’t have enough to slow down Gasol and Bynum and the perception of softness will continue to follow the Mavericks. In the Western Conference Finals it’ll be a rematch of the last year’s first round match up, Lakers vs. Thunder. This series will go seven, the advantage the Lakers had last year is no longer there. The Thunder  now have Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins to battle Bynum and Gasol down low which means the Lakers cannot rest on their laurels. The Lakers must defend and win the rebounding battle unless this series will end with them going home in May. Their bench must show up this series as well as its one of the few other areas they hold an advantage over the Thunder. Oklahoma City will look to expose Derrick Fisher for the old defender that he is with Russell Westbrook. Fisher can no way chase Westbrook around and this will put even more pressure on Gasol and Bynum in pick and roll situations. However, for as even as this series will look on paper I’ll go with the two time defending champions. This Lakers squad is a veteran group and they still have the best closer in the game Kobe Bryant. It will go seven, until somebody beats the champs, I can’t pick against them.


Round 1 (Winners of series are in bold)

(1) Spurs   4 games to 3    (8) Grizzlies

(4) Thunder 4 games to 2  (5) Nuggets

(3) Mavericks 4 games to 3  (6) Trailblazers

(2) Lakers 4 games to 1  (7) Hornets

Conference Semi-finals

(1) Spurs 3 games to 4 (4) Thunder

(2) Lakers 4 games 2 (3) Mavericks

Conference Finals

(2) Lakers 4 games to 3 (4) Thunder

Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers