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2015 Western Conference Playoff Preview

This season the Western Conference proved once again that they were the dominant conference. The conference had seven teams with fifty or more wins and every team in the playoff picture with a winning percentage higher than .549.  In short the Western Conference is very competitive, a game or two in the standings separates playoff seeds. The Golden State Warriors with a 67-15 record led the conference. Here is the playoff preview.

Golden State Warriors (1) vs New Orleans Pelicans (8)

The best backcourt in the NBA, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson lead the run and gun Warriors against Anthony Davis and his supporting cast in New Orleans. This series has a few interesting angles. First, the Warriors led the West wire to wire during the season averaging 110 points per game. The Pelicans average 99.4 points per game. Secondly it seems like the Pelicans are being underestimated. Some were rooting for the Oklahoma Thunder to lock up the eight seed to see an exciting match up between Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry; this did not come to fruition. Instead what we have now is an underdog story, can the Pelicans pull off an upset behind the play of Anthony Davis? Can Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon give Davis enough support to put up a fight against the juggernaut that is Golden State? Or will Curry, Thompson and the efficient offense prove too much for the Pelicans in their first playoff appearance? Prediction Warriors in 6

Houston Rockets (2) vs Dallas Mavericks (8)

Do you smell what “The Beard” is cooking? Leading MVP candidate James Harden leads the Rockets against their crosstown rivals. The Rockets have veteran leadership at almost ever position. Harden, Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza, Jason Terry and Josh Smith lead the Rockets offense. With Howard anchoring the paint and perimeter defenders Patrick Beverly and Trevor Ariza the Rockets are ready for a strong playoff push. Playoff veteran Dirk Nowitski leads the enigmatic Dallas Mavericks. Monta Ellis is having one of his most productive seasons as a professional basketball player. The offseason addition of Chandler Parsons from the Rockets also adds an interesting plot twist in this series.  The team started the season as one of the most efficient offensive teams in the league then they made a trade for Celtic guard Rajon Rondo and things changed. Before the trade some made comparisons between this year’s roster to that of the Mavericks 2011 championship team. This series may come down to offensive efficiency of the Mavericks can they keep up with the Rockets and can they contain James Harden? Prediction Rockets in 7

Los Angeles Clipper (3) vs San Antonio Spurs (6)

The defending champion Spurs come into the playoffs in typical Spurs fashion. Winners of nine out of their last ten games they are in playoff form. The regular season saw the Spurs start off slowly with an early injury to Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard they struggled out the gate. However just as they have done before, with a healthy roster the Spurs are ready for a title defense. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard lead the Spurs with the masterful guidance of head coach Gregg Popovich. Their cast of unsung heroes Danny Green, Patty Mills and Boris Diaw are also now healthy and ready. The Clippers are poised to make a long playoff run however they drew the short straw. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin lead the attack. DeAndre Jordan has emerged as one of the most consistent players on the team. The bench play of Jamal Crawford and JJ Reddick can also aid Chris Paul and the rest of the starters. The key for the Clippers is containing the ball movement of the Spurs. They must limit Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli’s penetration; they must also contain Kawhi Leonard offensively and defensively. Kawhi will probably guard Chris Paul in this series, which can be a major problem for the Clippers offense since Leonard is an elite defender he can affect what the Clippers want to do by making it difficult for Chris Paul. Prediction Spurs in 6.

Portland Trail Blazers (4) vs Memphis Grizzlies (5)

The Portland Trail Blazers come into this years playoffs looking to improve upon last years playoff performance. They have their all-star at the PF position in LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge is having one of his best seasons; he is averaging 23.4 ppg and 10.2 rebounds and is clearly the leader of this team. Second year star Damian Lillard has also had a productive season and made his first (controversial) all-star appearance. He leads the team in assists and is also looking to build upon his performance in the playoffs last year. The key for the Blazers is scoring against the defense of the Grizzlies. The Blazers however are entering the playoffs without the heart of their team, Wesley Matthews, who is sidelined for the rest of the season due to an Achilles injury late in the season. He is a fierce competitor and could have helped lead the charge against the Grizzlies and their grind out style of play. The Grizzlies are the 5th seed but that position can be misleading. The Grizzlies are one of the best defensive teams in the league. Marc Gasol, Mike Conley Jr. and Zach Randolph lead them into the playoffs. The Grizzlies traded Rudy Gay during the 2012-2013 season and have since been searching for a replacement at the SF position; they acquired this player in Jeff Green via trade. Green provides the versatility that they have been searching for at the position since Gay’s departure. He brings scoring at the position as well. The key for the Grizzlies in this series is to contain Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge and they must keep the defensive pressure on the perimeter. Prediction Grizzlies in 6.

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