By Tyler Berry
No need for bad jokes and no need for ramblings with this one. This is part 2 of my first round NBA playoff predictions. This time, the Western Conference. Let’s get to it.
1. Golden State Warriors vs. 8. New Orleans Pelicans.
Prepare for 4 straight “scrimmage” games. Joking. The Pelicans and budding superstar Anthony Davis deserve a lot more respect than that. They squeaked into the playoffs on the final night, thanks to the Spurs rolling over and letting them have the game. However, that doesn’t mean this team should be taken lightly. Anthony Davis finished the regular season with the highest PER (Player Efficiency Rating) in the NBA, at 30.89. Impressive. But at the end of the day, the Golden State Warriors are just going to be too much for them. I been Steph Curry with the shot / Been cookin with the sauce / Chef Curry with the Pot is just going to light things up all up and down the basketball court. I apologize for my Drake reference…
Oracle Arena is the loudest it’s been all season during game 1. The Warriors come out pumped up and ready to play. Curry and Klay tag team for 60-plus points and lead the crew to a blowout win. Game 2 is a different story. Anthony Davis shows up and takes it straight at Andrew Bogut in the low post. Bogut turns to Bogus and the Pelicans take game- wait oh my god here comes Steph Curry. Curry lights up the 4th quarter from behind the 3-point line and the Warriors squeak by with a win. Almost had you going there for a minute. The Pelicans are happy to be home in New Orleans for game 3. Their crowd goes wild. Anthony and Tyreke Evans take the game over, shutting down any possible Curry/Klay runs. Game 3 to the Pelicans. Games 4 and 5 see the Warriors in true form. They’ve gotten in their groove, the loss is out of the way, and they cruise to a series victory quite comfortably.
Golden State wins the series 4-1
2. Houston Rockets vs. 7. Dallas Mavericks
James Harden, the possible MVP (should be Steph) is not someone you want to meet in round 1 of the playoffs. He’s been an absolute force all season, even when he’s had to carry a Dwight-less squad. Let’s be honest, even with Dwight on the floor, half the time they’re Dwight-less. Harden and the boys are eager to put last year’s last second Dame Lillard dagger behind them and get a series win. The Mavericks are just limping along, trying to prove they are still relevant. Harsh, yes. But have you seen Dirk? The man can still shoot with the best of them but he literally can’t move.
Oh boy. Game 1 is a massacre. James Harden comes out swinging, showing why he’s da real MVP. Parsons doesn’t play for the Mavericks and Monta Ellis hogs the ball. Mavs can’t get a shot to fall. Game 1 to the Rockets. Game 2, Parsons plays. After missing a few games with a knee injury, he’s ready and eager to show his former squad what they are missing. Parson’s goes off for 30, Dirk shoots well, Dwight falters and the Mavericks escape with a game 2 win. Back in Dallas for game 3, this one is close. Dwight works hard to redeem his unimpressive game 2 and finishes with a solid double-double. On the other end, Monta makes up for his bad start and gets some tough shots to drop, sparking a second half Mavs run. Mavs win game 3! Game 4 is all Houston though. It’s a Josh Smith sighting! Who knew this guy would have a resurgence with the Rockets after being so lazy on the court for so long. Smith and Harden control the tempo of the game and the Rockets head back to Houston all tied up. Game 5 and Game 6 are close, but the Rockets show that they aren’t going to lose this series. Dirk is tired, hurting, finished. His shots won’t fall and Monta/Chandler can’t get it done alone. Houston easily finishes off this Dallas team.
Houston Rockets win the series 4-2
3. Los Angeles Clippers vs. 6. San Antonio Spurs
Now this might be the most interesting first round series. If you listen to our podcast, you’d know that most of us didn’t expect the Clippers to be such a high seed after Blake Griffin went down with a staph infection for 12 weeks. DeAndre stepped up though, along with some surprising contributions from bench players (Austin Rivers??) and the Clippers won A LOT of games. Now, the Spurs have really turned things around as of late. During November and December, the team was abysmal. It looked like the defending champs weren’t even going to be in the playoff race at all. We all doubted them and as always, we were proven wrong by Coach Pop, Duncan and the rest of the San Antonio crew. Now the Spurs look poised for another deep playoff run.
It’s all Spurs in game 1. They come out ready to play, showing why they’re the defending champs. Blake and DeAndre get in early foul trouble, forcing them to play with timidity in the low post. Duncan gets one of his vintage double-doubles along with some impressive inside-out assists. Parker and Ginobili prove that the old men can still get it done against a younger squad. CP3 plays admirably, as he tends to do, but it’s not enough and the Spurs escape with the win. Game 2, the Clips come back and make it a series. Amidst a loud and proud Staples Center, Blake and CP3 go off, finishing off the Spurs early in the 4th quarter. Game 3 and 4 down in San Antonio are split. The depth of the Spurs takes one of the two games but Pop’s Hack-a-DeAndre plan makes no difference in the other and the Clippers big men help get the win. Game 5 in LA is a star-studded affair. With the series tied up, game 5 is huge for both teams. A back and forth game leads to the series’ first overtime. The Spurs take the win and head back home. Game 6 is another close one but again it’s the depth of the Spurs that carries them and the Clips’ lack of depth that buries them. San Antonio wins game 6 and the series.
San Antonio Spurs wins the series 4-2
4. Portland Trailblazers vs. 5. Memphis Grizzlies
This is an interesting series. It could either be a blowout or extremely close. Why? Well, the Grizzlies swept the season series 4-0 and have been the better team down the stretch. With Marc Gasol playing extremely well, it’s going to be a task for the Blazers to defend him. However, both teams are battling a lot of injuries so it’s going to come down to who can stay the healthier squad. Spoiler alert: This series goes 7 games.
Game 1 in Oregon, it’s clear that the Blazers miss Wes Matthews. Dame Lillard struggles from behind the arc and the Blazers backcourt can’t get their shots to go down. For Memphis, Gasol puts his team on his back and leads them to a solid victory. Game 2 and the Blazers are ready to fire back. Lillard redeems himself, showing that he can still make big shots like last year against the Rockets in game 7. Dame goes off, Aldridge gets 20 and 10, and the Blazers take game 2. I’ll make the next few games brief…Grizzlies win game 3 and 5. Blazers win games 4 and 6. GAME 7 is all that matters: The most exciting game of the first round of the playoffs. It’s back and forth for 47.5 minutes. With 30 seconds to play, the ball is in Dame Lillard’s hands. The shot clock winds down…5…4…3…2…Lillard with the three! No!! He misses. Memphis has one last chance with about 4 seconds left on the clock. 4…3…2…a dribble drive from Mike Conley, the floater goes up, it’s good! Memphis moves on!
Memphis Grizzlies win the series 4-3
We’re done! 3000 words over the course of two posts and my predictions for the first round of the playoffs are done. Here’s one last recap for you. Warriors in 5, Rockets in 6, Spurs in 6, Grizzlies in 7. In the East, Hawks in 4, Cavs in 5, Bulls in 5, Raptors in 7.
Thanks for reading everyone. I’ll be back with another post for the second round of the playoffs.