NBA Playoffs: Western Conference Preview – Spurs too tough to handle………

 

Will this scene at the White House, with the San Antonio Spurs celebrating their 2003 NBA Title be relived, just with a different President? I say, yes. The Spurs organization is arguably the best in sports right now. The only thing making it arguable at all is the fact they haven’t won a title in 7 seasons. That should change this year. The job Greg Popovich has done is nothing short of remarkable. I would never have thought it could be possible, but this team is better than last year’s. They’re deeper with the likes of Patty Mills and Marco Belineli coming off the bench, which means they’re not as dependent on players like Manu Ginobili or Boris Diaw, as they were last season. It’s going to be a tough task for anyone to beat them.

While I don’t see anyone beating San Antonio, that doesn’t mean it will be a piece of cake for them. The Oklahoma City Thunder have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Los Angeles Clippers can counter with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. There’s even a team like the Houston Rockets who can throw James Harden and Dwight Howard at the Spurs. Don’t forget about the Memphis Grizzlies who were in the West Finals last season, or Golden State with Steph Curry. It should be an incredible playoffs in the west. Maybe, the most competitive we’ve ever seen. Without further ado let’s get into my predictions:

 

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The Dallas Mavericks are two years removed from winning it all in 2011, and are a dangerous team this season. Problem is, they have the Spurs in their way. Dirk Nowitzki is still one of the most feared offensive players in the game, and Monta Ellis is another guy who can flat-out put the ball in the basket. There is also Shawn Marion and Vince Carter, but it won’t be enough to slow down San Antonio. The Spurs seem to be on a mission since blowing the NBA Title last season. As stated above, this team is ridiculously deep. They’re older and that can cause problems against a younger more athletic team, but their reserves have been spot on. Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili have plenty of help…………….  Spurs win 4-1

 

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In what should be one of the more exciting and high scoring matchups of the 1st round, the Houston Rockets will try to slow down the Portland Trail Blazers. That will be tough to do. The Rockets won the season series, but 3 of the 4 games went right down to the wire. For the Blazers, LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard have to hold their regular season form. I think they will. They’ll also need contributions from Wesley Mathews, and Nikolas Batum to really have a shot at beating Houston. For the Rockets, it’s James Harden and Dwight Howard. You know what to expect out of those two, but it’s the supporting cast that may decide this series. That means, players like Patrick Beverley, Chandler Parsons, and Jeremy Lin  will have to have strong series. Perhaps, the X-factor may be Terrence Jones. He’ll have to play strong against Aldridge on defense, and make Aldridge have to guard him. This series should be very close, but in the end…………….Rockets win 4-2

 

 

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It’s a shame Golden State Warriors center, Andrew Bogut probably won’t be available for this series. Even with him, I don’t think the Warriors can find 4 wins, but he makes them a more complete team that would give the Los Angeles Clippers a run for their money. I think it’s too much to ask Jermaine O’neal to get the better of the Clippers front line at his age. Still, there is Steph Curry, who can carry a team for a series, but the Clips have too much in their arsenal. Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, and Jamal Crawford are all back from injuries, and Blake Griffin is having a career year at power forward. With Bogut, this would have been a long series. Without him…………….Clippers win 4-1

 

 

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Yet another exciting series will be the Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Grizzlies have had the ultimate roller coaster ride of a season. They got off to a terrible start, and didn’t really come on until after the All Star break. Memphis, made a trade around that time, that has really paid dividends. Picking up Courtney Lee has given them a player they sorely needed that can get his own shot. He’s a pretty good shooter, also. Another player that has surprised is James Johnson. He has really come out of nowhere to give this team a big shot in the arm to go with their strong inside game of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Mike Conley, is also very underrated. For the Thunder, it’s usually all about Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. That shouldn’t change, but players like Serge Ibaka need to hold their regular season form.  The Grizzlies won’t be at all intimidated Oklahoma City. They beat them in last year’s playoffs, but of course that was without Westbrook. I think that and a 7th game in OKC will be the difference…………..   Thunder win 4-3

 

That leaves us with chalk, and these four in the Western Conference Semifinals:

1. San Antonio Spurs vs. 4. Houston Rockets

2. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 3. Los Angeles Clippers

 

The Rockets are a very good team and will be reckoned with for years to come, but they’re not polished enough to beat a team like the Spurs right now. Houston, did sweep the Spurs in the regular season. However, it was just that. The regular season. Several of those games, the Spurs played without Kawhi Leonard. He is the Spurs X-Factor. His defense and athleticism was very important last season, and it will be equally important this season. Great season for the Rockets, but……………………..Spurs win 4-2

Kevin Durant, will be the best player on the floor, but the gap between he and Blake Griffin has shrunk considerably. It’s not that Durant is worse, it’s that Griffin is so much better. It still remains to be seen how he will play in the playoffs, but if he holds his regular season form, I think the Clippers ultimately have too many weapons for OKC to deal with. The Thunder have home court, but I don’t think it will matter…………..Clippers win 4-2

 

Then there were two: Western Conference Finals

1. San Antonio Spurs vs. 3. Los Angeles Clippers

This series will be a classic. I think the Clippers are ready to contend right now. One problem. They’re going up against a beast that won’t be denied. Doc Rivers, has the Clips playing better defensively as a team and DeAndre Jordan, and Griffin are having the seasons of their lives. All of that athleticism and size will give the Spurs problems. The matchup between Tony Parker and Chris Paul will be unbelievable. The one thing the Clips are missing is that championship pedigree. That will be just barely enough for the Spurs to prevail…………….Spurs win 4-3

 

In the end, I think the Spurs beat the Nets in a rematch of the 2007 NBA Finals 4-2………

 

There you have it. My look at the 2014 NBA Playoffs. I’d love to hear if you agree or disagree with me. Sit back relax, have you a cold one or two. It’s gonna be a helluva ride to the NBA Finals……

 

 

 

 

 

 

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