So, in a nutshell, here’s how I feel about the top four teams in the Western Conference, and how I think they’ll do in this year’s playoffs:
- Los Angeles Lakers (57-25) – First matchup: Oklahoma City Thunder. Even as a diehard fan of the Lakers, I have to say that I’m more than disappointed in the way that the Lakers have performed over the last few games, although I think they’ll start playing to their full potential once the playoffs start for them tomorrow. The only thing I’m concerned about, though, is who’s going to guard Durantula. I don’t see Artest being able to shut Durant down, and it’s times like these that I wish the Lakers had never let go of Ariza. Oh well. I’m still more than confident, though, that the Lakers will be successful in the first round against the Thunder. My prediction? Lakers in six.
- Dallas Mavericks (55-27) – First matchup: San Antonio Spurs. Okay, so the Mavericks are the #2 seed. The Spurs are the #7 seed. But it’s the Spurs. As much as the statistics might lean towards favoring the Mavs, I can’t bring myself to give them the edge in this series. Simple as that. And Tony Parker’s back and healthy. My prediction? Spurs in seven.
- Phoenix Suns (54-28) – First matchup: Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers don’t have Brandon Roy. So what? That’s what the Blazers asked back in February, when they beat the Suns in Phoenix, 108-101, without Roy. Usually, the Suns have a very free-flowing offense, but the Blazers seem to be better than anybody when it comes to disrupting that offense. Will the Blazers be able to disrupt the Suns’ offense enough to take the series from them, though? Ehh… my prediction? Suns in seven.
- Denver Nuggets (53-29) – First matchup: Utah Jazz. Honestly, I think this is going to be a great series. Here are the two words, though, that will define the outcome of the series, in my opinion: Kenyon Martin. Coming back from a pretty long break, K-Mart is looking to make his presence felt and to help out the Nuggets as much as possible. And he’s the critical piece that they need to stop Carlos Boozer in this round (and consequently the rest of the Jazz), and possibly even Pau Gasol in the next round with the Lakers. My prediction? Nuggets in six.