San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs are the best team in the NBA record wise. The Spurs have held the top seed in the NBA for a long period of time, and it seems as though they will retain their position come April.
The Spurs seemed like an archaic team in October, but they are emerging as a serious threat to the two-time defending champions. San Antonio is relying on the play of their three stars, but also on their new young talent.
Instead of the slow defensive oriented style of play, the Spurs now play an up-tempo and more offensive minded set. The Lakers and Spurs have faced-off in the playoffs many times, and it seems inevitable that the two best teams in the West will see each other once again.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder surprised the world last year when they took the Lakers to the brink of elimination. The Thunder used its speed and youth to force the Lakers into a transactional, up-tempo game. This season the Thunder has used its performance in last season’s playoffs to grab a top seed in the Western Conference. According to several analysts, the Thunder are the Lakers’ biggest threat, and their style of play will be serious problem for the aging Lakers.
In addition, the Thunder acquired big man Kendrick Perkins from the Boston Celtics prior to the trading deadline. With Perkins dominating the paint, the Thunder now have another body to match-up against the Lakers.
The Dallas Mavericks are having another solid regular season; however, their success is very limited in the playoffs. The Mavs usually grab a top seed for the first 82 games, but they are unable to win four games in April.
The Lakers should not fear the Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs, and they will most likely take care of the Mavericks in five or six games. The Mavericks are considered a regular season team—not a playoff team.