The second season has arrived for not one but two sports. While we covered the NHL pretty exhaustively, and will continue to throughout the post season, it was time to give the NBA the same love that the NHL got. The first round of the NBA Playoffs are under way. Eight teams in the East, eight teams in the West. We recently covered the East. Now it's time for the NBA Western Conference Quarter Finals:
#1 San Antonio Spurs
#8 Memphis Grizzlies
Regular Season Series- Tied 2-2
They are dangerous and they look dangerous. They have a lot of experience and it helps them. The only problem is, how healthy are they? The San Antonio Spurs come into the playoffs with question marks on the health of some of their biggest stars. Players like Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker remain a question mark in terms of health heading in.
Don't let the number eight next to the Grizzlies fool you, they're a solid team. Accusations of tanking have followed them into the post season. Tanking for the eighth seed? Yes, it seems odd. No, it's not counter intuitive. The Grizzlies have some solid, skilled big men in their line up. It presents quite the puzzlement and match up problem for the hurting Spurs.
Despite injury concerns and players performing under their best potential as a result, it's far too soon to count out the Spurs. They were able to get the first overall and though the Grizzlies bigs match up well against an under healthed Spurs, in the end they should still be able to come out the victor in a pretty solid battle between a one and an eight.
Prediction: Spurs 4-2
#2 Los Angeles Lakers
#7 New Orleans Hornets
Regular Season Series- Lakers win 4-0
They're the two time defending champions. They've reached the top of the mountain for the mountain for the past two years. They should be highly regarded going into this post season, correct? Well... yes and no. The Lakers have had their moments of looking like world beaters throughout the regular season, then they go and drop a dud against... the Cleveland Cavaliers. They've alternated between tough to play against and tough to watch.
For the Hornets, their success rides on one person and one person alone: Chris Paul. CP3, two years ago, had a break out season and the Hornets rode him into the playoffs. Last year he goes out with an injury to his left knee and they fall apart. He's back this year and he's led them back to the big tournament. Just how far can Paul take the otherwise weak Hornets?
In all reality this series is the Lakers to lose. Their Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde act has many befuddled as to their long term prospects in these playoffs but the on switch should be a least tweaked in the right direction come this series. Kobe is still Kobe, the Lakers are still the Lakers. There's only so much Chris Paul can do against an entire team.
Prediction: Lakers 4-3
#3 Dallas Mavericks
#6 Portland Trail Blazers
Regular Season Series- Tied 2-2
The Dallas Mavericks have been another team that's been hard to place as they enter the post season. There were several times throughout the regular 82 where they looked unbeatable, only to come back down to earth and make you wonder exactly what this team is. Heading into the playoffs they remain a question mark as towards consistency and potential.
The Portland Trail Blazers are a pretty decent little team. They're not to be scoffed at or over looked by any means. The question of what damage they can do lies in how Brandon Roy comes back from some knee troubles he suffered during the regular season that left the team without him for a month plus. Without a full Roy, they're dangerous. With a full Roy, they're deadly.
It's a series that comes down to two things: how sturdy the Mavs are and exactly how well Brandon Roy is going to play. If there's even a hint of wobble in the legs of the Mavs and the Blazers super star in Roy is playing near the top of this game, this could very well be an upset. With Roy recovering from knee troubles he should only be getting better.
Prediction: Trail Blazers 4-3
#4 Oklahoma City Thunder
#5 Denver Nuggets
Regular Season Series- Thunder win 3-1
The Thunder seem to have the reputation of being this years Cinderella team. With the way they took later champion LA Lakers to the brink last year in the first round, losing in seven exciting games, they have the reputation of being the kids who can this season. Behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, they're an experienced team looking to do some damage.
It was a trade that was supposed to tear the team apart. As Carmelo Anthony left Denver for the bright lights of New York and the Knicks something interesting happened: the parts, old and new, meshed. And extremely well. The Nuggets went on to have one of the best records after the All Star Break and deadline, looking like a solid and formidable team for anyone to deal with.
They've played like too much of a team after losing what was their biggest piece in a huge trade that greatly altered the line ups of both teams involved. They're too solid, too sturdy and clicked on too many cylinders right now to be denied. A lack of a super star will hurt them eventually, but there's too much positive going on to go against the Nuggets.
Prediction: Nuggets 4-3