Western Conference NBA Playoffs bring about May Madness

Why the Western Conference is wide open for the taking.

Ever heard of March Madness? Well, what about May Madness? This year the Western Conference NBA Playoffs will be just as crazy as the NCAA tournament. Anything can happen, truly.

1st and 8th Matchup: Let’s start with the 1st and 8th seed matchup. With my projections, the San Antonio Spurs will take the first seed and the Memphis Grizzlies will end up in 8th place. Can anyone say rematch? In 2011, the Spurs and Grizzlies faced each other in the same exact matchup, 1st and 8th seed, and the Grizzlies were able to perform a huge upset against the Popovich led Spurs. This year will be more interesting, though. The Grizzlies have one of the best NBA records ever since their big man Marc Gasol has returned. They play magnificent defense and match up very well to the San Antonio Spurs. This should be a very interesting series, with the Spurs ultimately winning in six close games. I just don’t see how the Grizzlies can keep up with the Spurs’ scoring onslaught.

2nd and 7th Matchup: The second seed will most probably be held by the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the 7th place team will be the Dallas Mavericks. According to regular season series of 2-2, these teams are almost even. I can even see the Mavericks defeating the Thunder in a seven-game series, especially if Russell Westbrook is limited by injuries. If Westbrook is out of the game the Thunder become very easy to defeat. See, the Thunder only have one real scoring option when Westbrook is out, Durant, and he can be double teamed or even triple teamed. The motto of the Mavs should be “Make someone, anyone, but Durant beat us.” Also if Dirk Nowitzki plays like his vintage-self, the Dallas Mavericks are very hard to beat. When Dirk scores 30+ points the Mavericks are actually 7–1, according to NBA.com. Also the Dallas Mavericks were successful this season in beating the Thunder by the biggest margin of points in two whole years. Expect a close series, and expect a Mavericks upset.

3rd and 6th Matchup: The currently 3rd placed Los Angeles Clippers and 6th placed Golden State Warriors will most probably end up in their respective spots by the beginning of the playoffs. And boy oh boy, what a series that will be. Both Clippers and Warriors play in a fast paced system, with great 3-point shooters, and fantastic post-up players. The young Stephen Curry will face the battle tested veteran Chris Paul. The mid-range expertise David Lee against the high-flying Blake Griffin. The marvelous 3-point shooter Klay Thompson against one of the all-time best 3-point shooters in NBA history, Jamal Crawford. And not to forget their coaches, who both share an enthusiasm and inspirational technique that no other coach in this league has really embraced. This series will come down to the wire, and it will go to seven full games. The Clippers or Warriors can win this series, but it will ultimately come down to the clutch performances between Curry and Chris Paul. Expect Paul to defeat Curry in their head-to-head matchup and have the Clippers win the series.

4th and 5th Matchup: Now that I have discussed the six other teams in the playoff mix, this only leaves the Houston Rockets and the Portland Trail Blazers to match up with each other. The Rockets will claim the fourth seed and the the Trail Blazers will end up the 5th place team. Ironically, this will be by far the most lopsided series even though their records are the closest of all the teams playing each other in the playoffs. The Rockets will beat the Trail Blazers in five games for a slew of reasons. One of them is that the Trail Blazers have no one to guard Dwight Howard or James Harden. Another factor would be that the Trail Blazers have no real bench scoring and therefore cannot rest as much, whereas the Rockets’ bench is pretty deep. And finally, the Trail Blazers are too inconsistent. They have been losing games left and right and have dropped from holding the league’s best record to the league’s eighth best team. Sadly few games will be close, and most importantly the series will only consist of a few games to begin with. Expect an easy four victories for the Houston Rockets.