NBA Western Conference Great Eight Fate

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NBA Western Conference Great Eight Fate

Scoring a seed in the NBA’s Western Conference playoff bracket is a testament to the greatness of the season. The amount of talent in this years conference play may be the ultimate compliment.

The level of play in all four first round match ups is higher than “Snoop Dogg” at a “Bob Marley” festival.

Last time it was this competitive was in 2007. In the ’07 Western Conference playoffs, the Golden State Warriors, as the No. 8 seed, upset the Dallas Mavericks, the No. 1 seed — the first time ever in a seven-game series this feat was accomplished.

Although we may not have an eight vs. one upset this year, the fact that the runner up in my MVP voting, Kevin Durant, leads the Oklahoma City Thunder against the Los Angeles Lakers shows the depth of talent.

The West will be action packed with superstar talent from one through eight. In fact, the only place you’ll be able to find more talent, is in the bouncing energy of the cheerleaders.

What do these eight teams need to do to be successful in their first round match-ups?

One Finger Away

The No. 1 seed Lakers take on the No. 8 seed Thunder featuring a contest between two of the games best players in Lakers’ Kobe Bryant and the Thunder’s Durant.

Bryant has an injury to the index finger on his shooting hand. It has caused him shooting trouble down the stretch and forced him to sit out the Lakers final two regular season games.

The Lakers need Ron Artest to validate the decision to acquire him this past off season by playing lock-down defense on Durant.  Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom need to be key contributors on the offensive end to take pressure off of Bryant’s finger.

Although this is Durant’s first time in the NBA playoffs, he will still play like a seasoned veteran.  Point Guard, Russell Westbrook must step up his scoring and assists to give the Thunder a chance to win in the first round.

This looks to be a great first round match-up. Because of the experience of head coach Phil Jackson and depth from the bench, I believe the Lakers will be victors in six games. However, if Bryant doesn’t protect his finger and misses games as a result, the momentum and confidence could swing this series to the Thunder.

Don’t Sleep on Spurs

The No. 2 seed Mavericks drew the experienced No. 7 seed San Antonio Spurs.  This is the hardest of all the first round match-ups to predict.

The Mavericks have a history of going to sleep in the playoffs under the team leadership of Dirk Nowitzki. Not only did they lose to the Warriors in the first round of ’07, but they lost to the Miami Heat in the ’06 finals. After winning the first two games of the finals, the Heat rattled off four straight for the victory.

Dallas normally gives themselves an edge by having Jason Terry come off the bench, but the Spurs are a team that can counter with Manu Ginobili.

For Dallas to have an edge, two guys must step up and give big minutes, Shawn Marion and Caron Butler. The mid-season acquisition of Butler was key, and now it is time for him to prove why they pulled the trigger on that deal.

The Spurs are lead by two guys who have enjoyed a great amount of success in this tournament over the past 11 years, head coach Greg Popovich and big man Tim Duncan.

If the Spurs can get youngster George Hill to step up and deliver big in a few key games, this could go the way of San Antonio.  That is why I’m taking the Spurs in seven games, which leads us to the Mavs owner Mark Cuban melting down like Snickers in the sun.

No Roy, No Way

Team Stats

Western Conference
Team W L PCT
L.A. Lakers 57 25 0.695
Dallas 55 27 0.671
Phoenix 54 28 0.659
Denver 53 29 0.646
Utah 53 29 0.646
Portland 50 32 0.610
San Antonio 50 32 0.610
Oklahoma City 50 32 0.610
Houston 42 40 0.512
Memphis 40 42 0.488
New Orleans 37 45 0.451
L.A. Clippers 29 53 0.352
Golden State 26 56 0.317
Sacramento 25 57 0.305
Minnesota 15 67 0.183

NBA Facts

  • The National Basketball Association had its first season in 1947.
  • The San Antonio Spurs currently hold the records for both the longest NBA Playoff winning streak and appearance streak.

“They” Said

  • NBA Western Conference Playoff Preview: [2] Dallas Mavericks vs. [7] San Antonio Spurs
  • Odds to Win 2010 NBA Western Conference Championship
  • 2010 NBA playoff preview: LeBron James and Cleveland to clash with Kobe Bryant and Lakers in Finals
  • Brandon Roy to Have Knee Surgery, Will Miss Playoffs

Upcoming NBA Games

Saturday April 17
3:00 PM ET Bulls @ Cavaliers
5:30 PM ET Bucks @ Hawks
8:00 PM ET Heat @ Celtics
10:30 PM ET Jazz @ Nuggets
Sunday April 18
3:00 PM ET Thunder @ Lakers
5:30 PM ET Bobcats @ Magic
8:00 PM ET Spurs @ Mavericks
10:30 PM ET Trail Blazers @ Suns
Monday April 19
8:00 PM ET Bulls @ Cavaliers
10:30 PM Jazz @ Nuggets

The No. 3 seed Phoenix Suns lucked out and play the Brandon Roy-less No. 6 seed Portland Trail Blazers. Roy will be out having surgery on his knee but could possibly return in 4 to 6 weeks if the Blazers advance in the playoffs.

Blazer’s fans and organization, you won’t have to worry about whether or not Roy will return because without him, you can’t score with the Suns.

The Suns are lead by one of the greatest passing point guards of the last 20 years, Steve Nash. The fact that Amare Stoudemire has been playing like a man possessed since not being traded at the deadline does not bode well for the Blazers.

LaMarcus Aldridge is a nice player for the Blazers, but unless he can go for 40 points a night they have no chance.

The Suns score too much, too fast and too often for the Blazers to keep it close. The Suns win this series in five games.

Win One for the Gipper

The No. 4 seed Denver Nuggets will battle the No. 5 seed Utah Jazz. The Nuggets looked to be on their way to a second straight 2 seed until head coach George Karl was diagnosed with throat cancer.

With Karl missing several games after the all-star break, the team started to slightly unravel. The Nuggets could possibly be the most talented team in all of the NBA, but sometimes the erratic mental state of some players causes them to lose focus.

On the floor, the Nuggets are lead by Carmelo Anthony, one of the game’s top five players, as well as, Chauncey Billups, a player who has lead his teams to the last seven conference championships.

The Jazz reflects the personality of their head coach, Jerry Sloan, rough and rugged. Keys to the Jazz’ success have to be Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer, and the x-factors are Paul Millsap and Mehmet Okur.

I don’t think anyone on the Nuggets will deliver an overly dramatic speech or shed any tears, but when the first jump ball goes up, every member of the Nuggets will be playing for a man they admire and love.

There is no greater force in sports than men joining together to play for something other than themselves. The Nuggets will be triumphant in six games.

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