|The Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers are set for opening round playoff action|
(photo via espn.com)
Regular Season Series: Tied 2-2
Analysis: Memphis is a young, upstart team that in any other matchup might've surprised some people. Rudy Gay missed a significant number of games due to injury but is now 100% healthy and ready to go. He is by far one of the most exciting young players in the league. Mike Conley has been dogged as an underachiever for most of his brief NBA career, but has really come on as of late. Big Zach Randolph and Centre Marc Gasol will provide muscle and rebounding inside. San Antonio brings so much veteran savvy to this series, and can match up size-wise with the Grizz. Gregg Popovich has done arguably his best coaching job this year, and dude's already got 4 championship rings. The Spurs are considered by many to be the best team of the 2000's, and despite their age, they continue to dominate in the League. Vets like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, plus young guns Dejuan Blair and George Hill will all spell trouble for Memphis.
Prediction: Spurs in 6
Regular Season Series: Lakers lead 4-0
Analysis: I feel sorry for the Hornets' Chris Paul. Dude carries his team year in and year out, and plays hurt all the time. It's so interesting to watch the way he can singlehandedly control the game. He scores, rebounds well for his size, dishes the rock, and also grabs 'nuff steals. Paul by himself might will the Hornets to a least one victory in the series. But these are the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers we're talking about here, and despite some key injuries to role players Steve Blake and Andrew Bynum, they'll find a way to easily win this series. Kobe Bryant will simply not allow his team to come up short, and it's just a matter of how many games it'll take them to put the Hornets' heads to bed.
Prediction: Lakers in 5
Regular Season Series: Tied 2-2
Analysis: This will most likely be the best Western Conference first round matchup. LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace are expected to come up huge for the Blazers. Plus, if a healthy Brandon Roy, who's may never again be the player he once was, can turn it up a notch, and if Wes Matthews can continue the strong play he showed throughout the regular season, this Blazers team can make this a very exciting series. Dallas has gotten a boost in toughness this year with the play of Tyson Chandler, and Dirk Nowitzki will continue to be the straw that stirs the drink offensively for this squad. I think this one will come down to home-court advantage. If its goes a full 7 games, I think playing in front of their home crowd will make all the difference for the Mavs, but this'll be one hell of a series.
Prediction: Mavericks in 7
Regular Season Series: Oklahoma City Leads 3-1
Analysis: OKC's dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are two of my favourite players to watch. Westbrook has turned himself into one of the league's elite point guards, and Kevin Durant is capable of winning a series all on his own. Plus they've now added toughness with the acquisition of Kendrick Perkins. And I love the coaching savvy of Scott Brooks ... he's got such great command of this team and his players like playing for him. Their experience in last year's playoffs, giving the Lakers a run for their money before bowing out in the series 4 games to 2, should help tremendously. Denver is revamped after the Carmelo Anthony trade brought them fresh faces Raymond Felton, Danilo Galinari, and Wilson Chandler, and George Karl is an experienced coach who has been to the NBA Finals. They have some key pieces in their frontcourt that could give OKC some problems, and Kenyon Martin and Chris "Birdman" Andersen have given this team a huge defensive boost. The difference here is which team has a go-to guy they can rely on in the clutch to win games for them, and with Kevin Durant, I see OKC as that team.
Prediction: OKC in 7
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