Wednesday, May 1, 2013

0 Western Conference outlook


By Shaee Flatt

As the first round of the NBA playoffs draws closer to the end, it becomes more and more clear that ANY team that advances to the second round will have a legitimate shot at representing the Western Conference in the NBA Finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder have the conference’s best player in Kevin Durant, but without Russell Westbrook, they are very vulnerable. The San Antonio Spurs may be the favorites to win the West at this point, especially if they can get Manu and Tony Parker healthy again. If their health issues linger, though, they aren’t nearly the team they were for much of the season. The next team that comes to mind for most people is the Los Angeles Clippers, but they’re just one loss away from elimination against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are capable of playing very good defense, and since the trade of Rudy Gay they have really improved as a whole. While Gay was their best player, he wasn’t good enough to have so much of the offense running through him. The balanced attack they have now works much better for them. The Denver Nuggets were talked about a lot throughout the regular season, but like LA, they are just a game away from elimination. The Golden State Warriors have looked superior for much of the series against Denver, even without All-Star forward David Lee, who will miss the rest of the playoffs after suffering a knee injury in game one. Without Lee, it is probably a stretch that Curry can guide them to nine more playoff wins and an NBA Finals berth, but if there was ever a year to do it, this is it. The West is WIDE OPEN.

My prediction?

Grizzlies vs. Thunder
I expect the Grizzlies and the Thunder to close out their respective opponents in the first round. This is an intriguing matchup, but without Westbrook, the Grizzlies can contain Durant. I am taking the Grizzlies in six.

Warriors vs. Spurs
Also an intriguing matchup, but I really like the Spurs here. I think they can finish this series in five. Curry has done an excellent job thus far in the playoffs, but San Antonio is among the best in the league at eliminating single players. Without Lee, if you eliminate or at least limit Curry, you will beat Golden State most of the time. I also expect Golden State to have a tough time guarding the perimeter if they face the Spurs. It’s just an all-around tough matchup for the young Warriors.

Western Conference Finals

Spurs vs. Grizzlies
Considering we are still in the first round, this is a very hypothetical series. I wouldn’t be surprised if Memphis lost its’ remaining two games against the Clippers and were eliminated in the first round. However, this is the final series that I find most likely in the West so I’m going to preview it anyway. It's really an awesome matchup, even though many NBA fans would hate it because neither is very flashy at all. They just play good, fundamental basketball. Everything here would depend on Parker and Ginobli’s health, but assuming they’re both healthy, I like the Spurs to win the series. I think it goes the distance though, with the Spurs getting a close game seven victory. I really hope this series happens.

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