It seems like only yesterday, when LeBron James had the “Block heard around the world”
For the first time in 8 years, “King James” won’t be playing in the NBA Finals.
Western Conference Preview:
#1 (57-25) Golden State Warriors vs. #8 (48-34) LA Clippers:
The Warriors are looking to get back to their 5th straight NBA finals and win their 4th Championship in 5 years. The Warriors have the best starting 5 in the history of the NBA. The Clippers shocked the world by just making the playoffs. Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari should be able to put up points against Golden State and Patrick Beverly will try and get under The Warriors Skin.
What is the over/under on Beverly getting technical fouls?
LA is just happy to be in the post-season but the Warriors are on a mission.
Warriors sweep the Clippers 4-0.
#2 (54-28) Denver Nuggets vs. #7 (48-34) San Antonio Spurs:
Both of these teams are predicated on ball movement and passing up a good shot to get a great shot. They both play unselfishly and do a great job of communicating on defense.
The Nuggets and Spurs have the quietest superstars in the NBA.
Nikola Jokic has done everything Denver has asked him to do. He averages 20.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. He is one of the best passing big-men of all time.
LaMarcus Aldridge played in 81 games this season for the Spurs. He averages 21.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists. Aldridge shot 51.9% from the floor.
Denver goes into this series with 2 strikes against them. They don’t have a legitimate 25 point per game scorer and they don’t have playoff experience.
Gregg Popovich, Patty Mills, DeMar DeRozan and Aldridge have all been through the playoff wars. Their experience will lead them to a series victory.
Take the Spurs in an upset 4 games to 2.
#3 (53-29) Portland Trail Blazers vs. #6 (49-33) Oklahoma City Thunder:
This should be the most entertaining series in the opening round. Portland won 53 games despite having numerous injuries. Jusuf Nurkic was averaging 15.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists before going down with a season ending injury. CJ McCollum is returning from injury and if healthy, he can score 20 points on any given night.. Damian Lillard continues to be one of the best point guards in the game. He is averaging 25 points per game and usually plays better in the post-season. The Trail Blazers added Enes Kanter and Rodney Hood at the trade deadline and both should be a huge factor.
Russell Westbrook averaged a triple double once again on the year. He averaged 22.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 10.7 assists per game. As good as Westbrook has been, this team will only go as far as Paul George will carry them. George had an “MVP like” Season and he should be the teams number 1 option in the post-season.
The x-factor of this series should be Steven Adams, if he can average 15 points and 10 rebounds per game, the Thunder can win.
George and Westbrook should outplay Lillard and McCollum and that should propel them to the 2nd round.
Take the Thunder in an upset 4 games to 2.
#4 (53-29) Houston Rockets vs. #5 (50-32) Utah Jazz:
Both of these teams have Championship aspirations. The Rockets are led by perennial MVP candidate James Harden. “The Beard” averaged 36.1 points per game and Clint Capela and Chris Paul averaged over 31 points combined. The Rockets bench can contribute as much as their starters. Kenneth Faried and Daniel House Jr. have both provided a much needed spark.
The Jazz are led by Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. The question for the Jazz in this series is… who will be their 3rd option. Rookie Grayson Allen only played in 38 games on the season but he scored 40 points in the final game. Allen is someone who must be inserted into the lineup, he can shoot the three, he can drive to the basket and has the athleticism to run with the Rockets.
The Jazz will hang tough, but take the Rockets in 5 games.
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