Well, this was supposed to be the playoff preview for the Western Conference, but since I'm posting this already after the Lakers get bounced (I predicted the Lakers to supposedly advance in 6, so I am terribly wrong in this case), might as well do a little revisionism and post-script action.
So, let's go straight to the nitty gritty.
2 - Los Angeles Lakers vs 3 - Dallas Mavericks
Regular Season Analysis: The Lakers held a 2-1 edge in the regular season, winning the last 2 meetings. Dallas did not shoot well in their regular season losses against LA. Peja Stojakovic only played in the third and final game.
What went wrong for Los Angeles: True to form to their regular season, save for Lamar Odom, the bench was relatively non-existent.That already put more pressure on everyone, especially with Pau Gasol, who already has been receiving major flak based on his performance in the previous series.
What went right for Dallas: Dallas stroked it from long distance. They tied a playoff record with 20 three-point conversions in a game during Game 4. To put it into comparison, the Lakers converted just 15 threes for THE ENTIRE SERIES. And when you watched the game, most of those were coming off good screens and great execution. The Jet went bananas in the last game, 32 points off a record-tying nine three point conversions. Also give credit to how the Mavericks defended Kobe and made it difficult for him to score. Barea has been a pest and made things brutal for Laker defenders to the point they had Ron Artest guard him.
Man of the Series: Dirk Nowitzki has been great all series long. Unstoppable from Games 1-3. He was there in Game 4, but the BTS took care of things in that one to the point that he was pretty much irrelevant.
4 - Oklahoma City Thunder vs 8 - Memphis Grizzlies
Regular Season Matchup: The Grizzlies have a 3-1 edge in their regular season duels. It is important to note that Rudy Gay only played in the first 2 games before his season-ending surgery. In addition, they only met once after the trade deadline that netted Kendrick Perkins for Oklahoma City and Shane Battier for Memphis. Memphis won said particular meeting. All games were relatively close, with winning margins of 4-9 points. Each team scored in triple digits in all the games.
Keys for the Thunder: Shot selection. The white elephant in the room has been Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant's shot attempts. The issue is not that, because Kevin is a guy that does not really that vocal in demanding the ball. The issue is and remains to be on the decision-making Russell conducts in the process.
Keys for the Grizzlies: Paint dominance. They have two of the better (possibly the best remaining in the postseason) low post scoring options in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Mike Conley has played within himself and controlled the ebb and flow of how things roll.
X-Factor/s: It's all about the Celtic championship pride running down the veins of Kendrick Perkins and Tony Allen on each side.
Prediction: Oklahoma City in 6.