Friday, April 16, 2010

Western Conference Playoffs Preview

Welcome to the NBA playoffs. After a slight hiatus, the TWTWTNBA returns to give snippets of what to see in the playoffs.

Western Conference Playoffs

1 - Los Angeles Lakers (57-25) vs 8 - Oklahoma City (50-32)

Oklahoma City, welcome to the postseason, and your reward is meeting with the defending champions. And already, we are seeing mind games from the Zen Master and Kevin Durant. Both teams sort of limping in into the postseason, with key crunchtime losses on the Thunder's end, while the Lakers just cruised by, with Kobe missing time to rest his injuries.

Key players to watch for: Kobe vs Durant scorefest beckons, but which Russell Westbrook will show up? And someone from the Lakers' bench needs to produce (Farmar, Brown, Vujacic, Walton and Powell) while Andrew Bynum is out and Lamar is starting in Andrew's place. After all, the OKC bench (Maynor, Harden, Ibaka, Collison) will cream them.

Prediction: Lakers in 6, but the Thunder is here to stay. Durant averages 35 pts in this series. Let's see if KD35 has the same competitive overdrive as Lebron and Kobe has.

2 - Dallas (55-27) vs 7 - San Antonio (50-32)

The Spurs have long since been on cruise control, deciding that they favor this I-35 rivalry. The Mavs, with 
their bunch of 30-somethings, could be the biggest hurdle for the Lakers as the West champs.

Key players to look out for: Dejuan Blair for the Spurs is the next coming of Malik Rose. Hopefully, Richard Jefferson is not the glorified version of Michael Finley in this incarnation of the Spurs. As for Dallas, the contributions of Brendan Haywood and Erick Dampier, as well as how Caron Butler as the Josh Howard replacement will be the major influence as to how the Mavs get it done.

Prediction: Mavs in 7. This series looks solid, but could possibly bore you to death.

3 - Phoenix (54-28) vs 6 - Portland (50-32)

Portland is limping in, with Brandon Roy as Exhibit A as to why Lebron is being DNP-CD'd. Of course, we all know about the Oden / Pryzbilla injuries. The SSOL P.D. (Post D'Antoni) looks in form, save for the injury to Sideshow Mel.

Key players to watch for: If Roy does not play, Martell Webster and Rudy Fernandez need to step up the way Travis Outlaw did last year. Given their thin frontline depth, Marcus Camby needs to keep himself in the game. The Suns' Hustle and Flow unit (Jared Dudley, Goran Dragic, Leandrinho Barbosa and Channing Frye) have been the difference between the SSOL and the SSOL P.D.

Prediction: Suns in 5. Brandon Roy will not play this postseason. Much credit though for Portland, because everyone (including their head coach) was hurt all year.

4 - Denver (53-29) vs 5 - Utah (53-29)

Denver lucked out of the draw by stealing away homecourt from the Jazz, because as people know, it is ridiculously difficult to win in the arena formerly known as the Delta Center. Blame it on the Mormons.

Key Players to watch for: Kenyon Martin and Nene needs to play 30+ minutes apiece if they have any chance to progress. Wesley Matthews has been a surprise since March, averaging double figures and playing major minutes. Paul Millsap grabbed 24 rebounds recently, and he really makes Boozer dispensable.
Prediction: Jazz in 7. Remains to be seen if the Nuggets can beat the Jazz in Salt Lake City, because the Jazz can beat the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center.

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