The Western Conference Playoff picture is set. Here is how we see it:
1 vs. 8- Utah vs. San Antonio. The Jazz have some good pieces with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Gordon Heyward and company. But the Spurs of Duncan, Ginobli and Parker have too much experience. Plus they will be determined to put last year behind them. Spurs will gut out a tough series. Spurs in six.
2 vs. 7- Dallas vs. Oklahoma City. A rematch of last season’s Western Conference Finals, the Thunder are out for revenge. Plus this year, they are just the better team. The Mavs really miss Tyson Chandler. Without him, they don’t have enough for the Thunder. Thunder in five.
3 vs. 6- Denver vs. L.A.Lakers. Will not having Ron Artest hurt the Lakers? It may hurt a little, but not enough to cause them to lose this series. Denver probably made a mistake trading Nene for McGee. That guy is a knucklehead and will probably do something dumb to hurt the Nuggets. Lakers in six.
4 vs. 5- L.A.Clippers vs. Memphis. This is must see TV. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul get their first taste of the Playoffs together. Blake is getting his first taste period. I expect the Clippers to show up, especially in L.A. But one thing they will learn is there will be no “Lob City” allowed in the playoffs. Rudy Gay and the Grizzlies will see to that. Look for Marc Gasol to have a big series. Grizzlies in seven.
Western Conference Semifinals
Assuming all the previous predictions pan out, here is how the rest of the Western Conference Playoffs will go:
Memphis vs. San Antonio- last year the youthful Grizzlies ran the aging Spurs out of the first round of the playoffs. The Spurs are not any younger. The Grizzlies are a year better. No reason to think it won’t happen again that I can see. Grizzlies in six.
L.A. Lakers vs. Oklahoma City. Let’s hope Artest and James Harden are both back for this one. And let’s hope Harden lays him out. This is going to be a battle. The younger and more talented Thunder will win out in a close one. Bryant will have a great series. So will Durant. Thunder in seven.
Western Conference Finals. Another rematch from last season’s playoffs. Another series that will go the same way. The Thunder just have a little too much for the Griz. Memphis won’t go down quietly though. Thunder in six.
So your Western Conference Champions…The Oklahoma City Thunder!