Western Conference Playoff Preview

(3) Dallas Mavericks vs. (6) Portland Trail Blazers

Despite the high seed in the Western Conference, the Mavericks will play the very dangerous Portland Trail Blazers in the second round. However, the Mavericks are prone to an upset in round one, and if history has any indication, the Mavs will fall in the first round. Dallas usually finishes with a top seed in the West and a 50+ win season is nothing new; however, it seems as though the team has a penchant of losing its energy once the post-season begins.

The Trail Blazers are one of the deepest teams in the NBA, and although they are the sixth seed, the Blazers can beat any of the top seeds in the West. The mid-season trade that brought Gerald Wallace to Portland was a boon for the team, and it provided back-up for Brandon Roy.      The Blazers have many scoring options and their feistiness on the defensive end always keeps them in games.

The Dallas Mavericks have yet to proven that they are capable of winning playoff series, year-in-and-year-out the Mavs are eliminated early in the playoffs. As for the Blazers, they can easily exploit the Mavs weakness and will likely pull-off the upset.

Prediction: Trail Blazers win in 6 games

(2) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (7) New Orleans Hornets

The Los Angeles Lakers will begin their quest for a three-peat by playing the New Orleans Hornets. After battling the Mavericks and Thunder for the second seed in the West, the Lakers were rewarded with a fairly easy opponent. The Lakers swept the Hornets in the regular season 4-0, and they should have no problem handling New Orleans in the playoffs. The 2011 Playoffs will be the last time Phil Jackson partakes in a post-season tournament, and the Laker players are determined to send their coach off right.

After a disappointing performance last season, the New Orleans Hornets have bought into Monty Williams’ defensive system and they have earned the seventh seed in the West. The Hornets are led by Chris Paul, one of the best point guards in the NBA. Alongside Paul, there are versatile players who have the ability to finish in the paint. Former Lakers Trevor Ariza and DJ Mbenga will be amped up to play the series, and the Lakers must match the Hornets energy and intensity in order to win.

However, the Hornets need to play a perfect series just to challenge the two-time defending champions. New Orleans cannot defend the Lakers, nor can they match the Lakers’ offensive explosion. The Lakers are too big of a team, and they will breeze into the second round to face the winner of the Mavericks-Trail Blazers series.

Prediction: Los Angeles Lakers win in 4 games

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