Western Conference Playoff Preview | Sharapova's Thigh

Western Conference Playoff Preview

Posted by Poorly Acquitted | 4/16/2009 09:24:00 AM | ,

(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (8)Utah Jazz

How Crazy is it that going into the last day of the regular season this is the only Western Conference series that is set in stone? Really effing Crazy. Anybody that stayed up to watch the Lakers/Jazz game last night knows that this series is over.

The Lakers are just way to deep and Jazz are just way too bad. Mark my words, the Jazz are about to become really, really bad. Boozer is gone after this year. D Will is probably gone after next year. Somebody will throw ridiculous money at Kyle Korver. Jerry Sloan has 3 years left max.

I digress.

Series Starts: Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles

Season Series:
Lakers win 2-1. The home team won all 4 games.

Key to the Series: At least beat the Lakers up.
The Jazz are not going to win this series. They are too bad on the road and they've stumbled at home in the last week. Oh yeah, and the Lakers are really fucking good.

Fans of other Western Conference teams can only hope that the Jazz beat the Lakers up a little bit. It is a distinct possibility. There was almost a fight in last night's game. Deron Williams took exception to a seemingly inadvertant bump from Andrew Bynum. Williams then took a run at Bynum on the Jazz' next offensive possession. It didn't create a melee, but players had to be separated.

Throw into the mix that Sloan might be the only coach left in the league that would encourage his players to get in a fight and we have a possible recipe for fireworks.

Prediction: Lakers in 5

(4) Portland Trailblazers vs. (5) Houston Rockets

Did home court in the first round matter to the Blazers? Based on the drubbing they put on the Nuggets last and I'm leaning toward yes. The Blazers are young, exciting, and have home court advantage. Houston grinds it out, makes open three point shots and has loads of playoff experience.

Series Starts: Saturday night in Portland.

Season Series:
Houston won 2-1.

Key to the Series: Three point line.
These two teams both shoot, and make, a lot of three point shots. They are both in the top 10 in the NBA in 3 point makes and three point shooting percentage. They do it in two different ways too. For Houston it goes from Yao straight to the open perimeter player. Portland uses crisp passing and quick ball reversals to find the open guy. The tell tale statistic could be that Houston defends the three point line much better than Portland.

Prediction: Portland in 7. Portland is at home but Houston has the playoff experience. I seriously question whether Portland has an answer for Yao Ming, but at the end of the day Portland has won 6 in a row and is playing their best basketball of the season right now. I say that counts for just enough to set up a date with the Lakers in the 2nd round.

(2) Denver Nuggets vs. (7) New Orleans Hornets

I must admit that as a Nuggets fan this is the match-up that I wanted. Hopefully I don't eat those thoughts now. The Nuggets are the best story in the Western Conference this year. 8 seed last year, demolished by the Lakers in 4, predicted by most to miss the playoffs this year and now the 2 seed. New Orleans was last year's sweetheart but they started slow and never really showed the same form from last year.

Series Starts: Sunday night in Denver.

Season Series:
Split 2-2. Each team won once at home and once on the road.

Key to the Series: The Whistle.
The team that shot more free throws won of 3 of the 4 games this year. Chris Paul is great at drawing fouls. The Nuggets go to free throw line more than any other team in the league. Additionally, Byron Scott coaches a lot like Jerry Sloan: Play so physical in the first half that by the time the second half comes around the refs are sick of blowing the whistle. That being said, the Nuggets are more physical than the Hornets. If this series is ticky tack the Hornets probably have the advantage.

Prediction: Nuggets in 5. Betting against Chauncy Billups is not smart. I also don't think that the Hornets' front court is deep enough to match-up with the Nuggets. The Nuggets have also won 10 in a row at home.

(3) San Antonio Spurs vs. (6) Dallas Mavericks

Talk about two teams going in opposite directions. As little as 10 days ago the Mavs were fighting for their playoff lives and the Spurs were entrenched as the second seed in the West. The Mavs have started playing really well. The Spurs lost Manu Ginobili.

Series Starts: Saturday night in San Antonio

Season Series:
Split 2-2. Each team won once at home and once on the road.

Key to the Series:
Dirk Nowitzki.
Nice call PA, naming one of the game's best players as the key. Well if Dirk gets going the Spurs just don't have the horses to score with the Mavericks. Tony Parker is not capable of scoring 40 every night. Timmy D probably is not capable of scoring 40 period at this point in his career. Dirk can score 40 any night and can take over any playoff series.

Prediction: Dallas in 7. The Spurs are a great playoff team. They are tested and hardened. That will keep them in this series. The Mavs are peaking at the right time. They have their super-sub Jason Terry, the Spurs do not have their super-sub Manu Ginobili.

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