First Round Playoff Predictions- West

Posted: 04/20/2013 by levcohen in Basketball

Time for the West.

Oklahoma City Thunder (60-22) vs. Houston Rockets (45-37):
I’m so happy we get the James Harden Revenge series in the first round. This is going to be electric. The Rockets are an extreme team. They go up the court, shoot three pointers, and score a lot. The problem is that they don’t play any defense, other than Omer Asik. Harden is an awful defender, and Jeremy Lin is below average. That’s going to be a problem, because the Thunder have two of the best offensive players in the NBA in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Something tells me they are going to go for 40 a game each. Harden and the Rockets offense are good, but I don’t think they’ll be able to start Durant and Westbrook.

Intriguing subplot: Obviously it has to be the Harden-back-to-OKC storyline. Could the superstar will the Rockets to a series win? Could he out play the two (possibly three including defensive stalwart Serge Ibaka) Thunder stars? Will he get any help from the Rockets bench, or other starters for that matter?

My prediction: Thunder win in 5.

San Antonio Spurs (58-24) vs. LA Lakers (45-37):
Are we seeing what Bill Simmons calls the Ewing Theory– when a team loses its best player but then rallies and the plays better than they did with their star–? Sure, it is a small sample size, but the Lakers have looked much better without Kobe. This has happened for a few reasons.
1. Kobe is a great player, but he hasn’t really played defense this year. The Lakers have been better at defensive without him in the game.
2. Mike D’Antoni has finally figured out how to play Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol together. Gasol is one of the better passing power forwards in the NBA, and he has been commanding double teams. Often, Dwight’s man switches to Gasol, not realizing how good of a passer Gasol is, and Howard gets an easy dunk.
3. When he was healthy, Kobe was the de facto point guard, as he commanded the ball for most of the game. Now, Steve Nash can go back to playing where he is comfortable. He can go back to racking up assists, hitting threes, and being a big time difference maker.
Couple all of those things with San Antonio’s recent swoon, and I could see the Lakers winning this series
p.s. I know I didn’t talk about San Antonio, and that’s because, while they are a great team, they are boring.

Interesting subplot: Can Dwight prove that he is ready to take over the Lakers franchise? Will he explode without Kobe?

My prediction: Spurs in 6

Denver Nuggets (57-25) vs. Golden State Warriors (47-35):
Basketball fans all around the world are rejoicing. This is a match-up between two of the best offensive teams in the NBA. The Nuggets lead the NBA in scoring, and the Warriors are at #7, but have been even hotter of late. The last time they have scored fewer than 90 points was March 8th. They have the best shooter in the NBA, Stephen Curry. They have one of the best double double threats in the NBA, David Lee. They have the most exciting rookie in the playoffs, Harrison Barnes. The Nuggets, though, are just too deep. Even without Danilo Gallinari, they go 10 deep with regularity. They have JaVale McGee, Andre Miller, Corey Brewer, Wilson Chandler, and Anthony Randolph on the bench. That could be a solid starting lineup. That’s why I’m taking the Nuggets.

Interesting subplot: Both of these teams have injury concerns. For Denver, Gallinari is done, Ty Lawson is coming off an injury, and X-Factor Kenneth Faried is banged up. For Golden State, big man Andrew Bogut is always hurt, and Curry has fragile ankles.

My prediction: Nuggets in 6

LA Clippers (56-26) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (56-26):
This is a repeat of last year’s first round match-up, and these two teams don’t really like each other. I think this going to be full of close games, and I think Memphis is really underrated in this series. They are certainly less flashy without Rudy Gay, but they are more effective. As for the Clippers, “lob city” is incredibly fun to watch, and much like the Nuggets they can go very deep, as they have guys like Jamal Crawford, Eric Bledsoe, and Matt Barnes on the bench. This is what I’d call an intriguing series.

Interesting subplot: How about that power forward match-up? I don’t think Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph like each other. The winner of that match-up will probably play for the series winning team.

My prediction: Clippers in 7.. In a close game, I just don’t see who can hit the big shot for the Grizzlies.. That is the difference in the game.

  1. Philabundant says:

    Is it my imagination or are these particularly good series?

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