I’m going to jump right in here. There’s a lot to talk about in the west!
1st seed Oklahoma City Thunder vs 8th seed Houston Rockets
Revenge of the Beard!!! Fear the Beard!!! This series, especially for an 1 vs 8, should be extremely compelling. I know the Thunder are a better team. I know James Harden has been pretty inefficient the last 10gms or so. But who doesn’t want to see this go 7? The Rockets style of play, fast and no defense, can entice Russell Westbrook to play too fast and take more bad shots than usual. James Harden’s ability to get to the line will put the Thunder in foul trouble. And Chandler Parsons can make Durant work. The Thunder turn the ball over a ton and will help the Rockets. I really like the Rockets. But Durant and Westbrook may average 80 combined ppg this series and will just be too much. But there is an X-Factor. If Jeremy Lin can go Linsanity the Rockets can pull this off! If they can get 50 combined ppg from Lin/Harden they just may win.
4th seed Clippers vs 5th seed Grizzlies
This series will be a great one to watch. The Clippers have some very obvious flaws but the Grizzlies offensive woes will kill them late in games, much like last year. I love everything about the Grizzlies defensively. But with Zach Randolph only shooting about 46% from the field they aren’t very efficient. The Clippers struggle at the free throw line, struggle getting post points, and I still don’t trust Del Negro. But they have CP3. The 3rd best player in the league for my money. Though I’ve outlined the flaws of both teams, the strength of both is how hard they play. And that’s what makes this so exciting. For two teams so evenly matched you go with the best player, so I’m riding with the Clippers here.
3rd seed Denver Nuggets vs 6th seed Golden State Warriors
My pick is contingent on Kenneth Faried. If he is as limited as I’m hearing he may be, playing only 15min or so, I take the Warriors in yet another 7 game thriller. This is an old ABA throwback game! Scores like 128-120 are expected here. And while these two teams are very much alike; they are so very different. Golden State is going to run but most often to shoot the 3 ball. They don’t apply much defensive pressure nor rebound well. Denver on the other hand, runs for layups. They keep constant pressure on you with their relentless attacking style. Defensively, they stay in the passing lanes and force you to be careful. They have decent rim protection in Javale McGee and Koufos and rebound well at every position. Andre Miller vs Jarret Jack, to me, will be the key to this series. They can control tempo and change the pace of a game. Both are good rebounders and excellent floor leaders.
2nd seed San Antonio Spurs vs 7th seed Los Angeles Lakers
Ok… Hear me out… I know, I know. This is crazy, but I like the vibe of the Lakers right now. For the first time all year this team has an identity, a true identity. Pau Gasol is playing out of his mind and Dwight is anchoring the defense the way he did in Orlando. But back to the identity. The loss of Kobe forced Coach D’Antoni to get his head out of his ass and do something different. Suddenly this team is playing through the post and getting better shots. Better shots equal higher shooting percentages. And higher shooting percentages equal less opportunities for opponents to run the ball down their throat. The loss of Kobe also improved the team defensively. There was little trust between Kobe and the rest of the team defensively. While at times he was an effective defensive player, most of the time he was lost, getting beat back door, and gambling too often. The Spurs on the other hand, I don’t feel too good about. They didn’t look good ending the season. Injuries are a major concern. I don’t like betting against Tim Duncan or Coach Pop, but something seems off in San Antonio. Maybe it’s just my inner Laker fan making this pick, but I’m pretty confident in my reasoning.
My 2nd round match-ups and results:
Clippers over Thunder 4-3
Nuggets over Lakers 4-2
Clippers over Nuggets 4-2
Crazy right? I can’t believe I made those picks myself! If Kenneth Faried ends up missing games for Denver I actually have the Lakers in the Conference Finals. Imagine that, lol.
So that leaves me with a Clippers vs Heat NBA Finals, if you read my East picks. Here’s how I see that going down.
Heat over Clippers 4-2
I think this may be the most compelling finals matchup. The Clippers have the depth to challenge Miami and the athleticism. They can force some awkward match-ups for the Heat. But LeBron James will just be too much for the Clippers to contain. He will have his way with Caron Butler, Matt Barnes, or whoever else the Clips try. When CP3 gets it going the Heat have the luxury of putting the bigger LeBron or D-Wade on him and because of Blake Griffins growing, but limited, post game can get away with guarding him with Shane Battier. I just can’t bet against the Heat.
Those are my picks. I’m usually pretty good at picking these but who knows this year. Hope you enjoyed. Let me know what you think. Tell me I’m crazy or, more likely, a genius! Lol either way. Like, follow, subscribe, comment, and share. Check me out tomorrow for post on the games. It’s the best kinda day for me, a day filled with basketball! Thanks for reading, Life of A Basketball Addict.