Where The West Will Be Won

Despite anticipated runs by the Thunder and Mavericks, there is really no reason to doubt that the West will be won in either Los Angeles or San Antonio.  The success of each franchise has been predicated on the same enduring principles.  Each team has had the talent.  Each team has had the experience.  And each team has had the coaching.

Speaking of, it seems that playoff coaching is still one of the most underrated playoff variables.  In the grind of a seven game series, few things make as much difference from game to game as the guy steering the ship.  From lineup changes, to rotations, to wrinkles in the sets, to pace of game, to preparation, coaching can win and lose games.  If a certain player on either team is the “X Factor” to their success, then coaching is the “Y Factor”.

Players and home court advantage aside, do you put your money on Phil Jackson or Eric Spoelstra?  Do you put your money on Gregg Popovich or Scott Brooks?  No respect to those guys, but rings talk.

The Spurs will be in the Western Conference Finals. So will the Lakers. The Spurs have stuck with the core nucleus of characters over the past several years. Duncan, Ginobili and Parker. They all play playoff basketball when the playoffs start. The Spurs’ role players have changed from year to year, but have remained competitive.

The Lakers have only won their championships when they have had a tried and tested nucleus of players as well. Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in the early 2000’s, and Kobe and Pau as of late. Their role players have changed minimally, and many of Los Angeles’ role players already have rings.

Neither team has missed going to the Western Conference Finals, or the NBA Finals for that matter, when they’ve been top three in the conference. And primarily it’s been when either team has been a one or two conference seed. Either team has only made it to the league championship as a third seed once, but both times brought home gold.

The Spurs are the one seed. The Lakers will be the two or three seed. But both will face each other in the Conference Finals. And the winner of that series will be the NBA champion.

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