The top seeded team in the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs, will play the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. The Spurs held the number one ranking in the conference for the majority of the season, but they went 2-2 against the Grizzlies. The Spurs will have trouble guarding Memphis in the open court and the up-tempo style of play the Grizzlies run.
Just like how the Oklahoma City Thunder troubled the Lakers last season in the playoffs with their speed and athleticism, the Grizzlies are capable of doing the same to the Spurs. However, the uncertainty of Rudy Gay and his shoulder injury will eliminate a key component to the Grizzlies’ system. Gay developed into one of the league’s best players and he became the closer for the team in the fourth quarter.
Nevertheless, the secret to winning in the regular season is the antithesis to fundamental key to success in the playoffs. The Spurs are a celebrated franchise and they have won a myriad of post-season series. As for the Grizzlies, the team is still fairly young and the lack of veteran leaders will hurt the team’s chances of winning. The Spurs are too balanced of a team, and their “Big 3” will survive a hard fought match-up with Memphis.
Prediction: San Antonio Spurs win in 6 games
(4) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (5) Denver Nuggets
After taking the Los Angeles Lakers to six games last season as the eight seed, the Oklahoma City Thunder have worked themselves up to the number fourth spot in the West. However, the Thunder will not get an easy opponent in the first round as they will play the potent Denver Nuggets. In the 2010-2011 regular season, the Thunder won the seasons series 3-1 and they defeated the Nuggets twice after the Carmelo Anthony trade.
The Thunder have a very talented roster with a multitude of players who are able to score 20 points on any given night. Compared to last season, the Thunder have become a more physical team and their players are experienced when it comes to playing in the playoffs. The acquisition of Kendrick Perkins added another dimension to the Thunder team and they now have the ability to match-up with the other elite teams in the West.
The Denver Nuggets completely transformed their team in a mid-season trade that shipped Carmelo Anthony to New York. Even though many people believed the Nuggets would falter and that the trade would led to the demise of the team. However, despite a dearth of marquee names, the Nuggets are a prolific scoring team and the team chemistry is impeccable. The Nuggets are a well balanced team and they have prove that they can beat the upper echelon teams.
This series is probably the most hyped and most intriguing match-up of the playoffs, and both teams’ play resembles the other. The seven-game series will be hard-fought and they were been a plethora of exciting games and thrilling finishes. However, the fact that the Thunder have home-court advantage gives them an upper hand in the series. The Lakers know first-hand how difficult it is to beat the Thunder in Oklahoma, and a game-seven at the arena will be mayhem.
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder win in 7 games
Next: Previews- Mavericks vs. Blazers, Lakers vs. Hornets
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