Western Conference Playoff Preview

THE post season is FINALLY here. After months of speculation, trades and media bullsh*t the real season is about to begin. Heroes and super teams are formed in the playoffs and with reputations on the line the 2017 playoffs are bound to be huge. Strap yourself in.

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#1 Golden State Warriors vs #8 Portland Trailblazers

Why the Warriors will win…
THE juggernaut that is the Dubs is nearing full strength. A healthy KD in addition to their line-up spells doom.

Why the Blazers will win…
STAR pair CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard combine for 50 points a night on average and are both fringe All-Stars. They seem to bring it every time they take on Golden State’s own star backcourt pair in Curry and Thompson so expect the two of them to come out firing and give Portland a fighting chance.

Western Conference Playoff Preview 1Image from thescore.com

X-Factor – Jusuf Nurkic’s Health

SINCE trading for the one time Nuggets big man the Blazers have gone 18-8 with the big Bosnian anchoring their defense. He fractured his leg in late March causing him miss the rest of the regular season and the Blazers were visibly worse. His 15/10 and two blocks each game are worth their weight in gold and they REALLY need him in uniform to impact the series.

Prediction – WARRIORS IN 4

TWO scoring guards, one solid big defensive big man and some spare parts aren’t enough to stop the all conquering Warriors. Anything outside a sweep would be a win for the Blazers.

#2 San Antonio Spurs vs #7 Memphis Grizzlies

Why the Spurs will win…
FOR the 374th year on the trot Gregg Popovich has the Spurs looking like a well oiled, team orientated wrecking ball. Why are we surprised when he keeps producing these seasons again and again? In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except for death, taxes and coaching perfection from Pop.

Why the Grizzlies will win…
FOR Memphis to win Mike Conley has to go OFF. He is scoring at a high rate (23 PPG in his last 15) and will need to take it to another level still to buoy the Grizz against the Spurs.

X-Factor – Grizzlies Ability To Score
SCORING the ball is an issue for Memphis, with just three players topping double figures each night. Tony Allen is likely to miss the series with a strained calf, but he isn’t known for his ability to score the ball. This is the exact moment where Chandler Parsons could stand up and prove his worth, don’t hold your breath though.

Prediction – SPURS IN 4

ONE of the most exciting parts of this match up is seeing Gasol bros Pau and Marc go head to head. Memphis’ big man probably takes the cake as the better play at the moment, but Pau can easily claim being on the better squad. The Grizz concede the 3rd fewest points a game and the Spurs ranks 2nd, so don’t expect 130-125 barn burners. Do expect a slow gritty battle over four (maybe five) games

#3 Houston Rockets vs #6 Oklahoma City Thunder

Why the Rockets will win…
JAMES Harden will go insane like a bull in a china shop. Expect him to put up 35/9/13 a night.

Why the Thunder will win…
RUSSELL Westbrook will go insane like a bull in a china shop. Expect him to put up 40/12/11 a night.

The Race To The Finish Line For The NBA MVP 2Image from sbnation.com

X-Factor – Who Can Be Stopped First?
ANYTHING is possible for the Thunder with Westbrook in uniform. Houston are definitely the better team in this scenario and are obviously favourites. The biggest factor that will impact the season though hinges on if either Westbrook or Harden can be stopped. If one of the two have an off night while the other lights up the stat sheet, forget about getting a W.

Prediction – ROCKETS IN 6
DESPITE popular belief I think that Westbrook’s supporting cast is just as good, if not better, than Harden’s. However, D’Antonio (Coach of the Year in my eyes) has Houston clicking on all cylinders firing into the postseason. Obviously a Houston series win is expected, though if Westbrook has taught us anything this season it’s to expect the unexpected.

#4 Los Angeles Clippers vs #5 Utah Jazz

Why the Clippers will win…
AT the start of the season I legitimately thought that the Clippers would be the best challenge to the Dubs for the West throne. They have showcased it at times, overcoming injuries to post an impressive 51 win season. They have three legit All-Stars on their roster and if Blake/CP3 are firing the Jazz stand no chance.

Why the Jazz will win…
GORDAN Hayward has steered the ‘Cinderella story’ Jazz to their 1st 50+ win season since 09/10. Rudy Gobert (who was robbed of being an All-Star in my opinion) has been the best defensive big man in the league and they have arguably the most well balanced roster in the league with defense, veterans, scorers and the works.

X-Factor – Utah’s 2nd scorer
A big factor for the Clips is health, with Paul and Griffin both missing severe chunks of time this year. However, Utah’s clutch scoring is still a concern, with the Jazz heavily relying Hayward. He can only do so much though and looking ahead they need a 2nd option to provide some buckets that isn’t Rodney Hood.

Prediction – CLIPPERS IN 7
20 years ago the Jazz and Clips met in the playoffs, but don’t expect the same result. A Stockton/Malone team led the Jazz to a sweep, but I hardly think that Utah will be winning in four, in fact at all. LA ended the season on a seven game win streak, showing off the potential they flirted with all season. This is easily the most hotly debated series from a ‘who wins?’ perspective, so expect close games, highlights and a nail bitting finish. Flipping a coin might be the best way to choose a winner.

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