Who Will Be the Best of the West?
The NBA has finished up it’s portion of the Western Conference play-in games to set up the field of eight teams for their side of the playoff bracket. Here are my thoughts on the upcoming four series.
#1 Utah Jazz vs. #8 Memphis Grizzlies
Utah’s great regular season needs to be capped with a long post-season run and that starts Sunday in game 1 of the opening round. Utah is good, they are well coached and they are a deep “team.” I think of a team when I think of the Jazz and now that they expect to have their best player back on Sunday they will be a problem for the entire Western Conference. Donovan Mitchell’s return will make the Jazz even more lethal. Memphis will not be a walk in the park. The Grizzlies have needed two extra games to get here and don’t be surprised if they start out fast in the series.
I think the Jazz will ultimately settle in and utilize all their gifts and advance. Jazz in 6.
#4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. #5 Dallas Mavericks
The Clippers have had trouble with the Dallas Mavericks at times. One of the best moments of the bubble last year was Luka’s game winner against LAC. Speaking of late game situations, for whatever reason that has been a weakness of the Clippers. That may haunt them over their postseason run but not in this series. Too many bodies to put on Luka, too much overall talent and I see the Clippers getting through this unscathed. Clippers in 5.
#2 Phoenix Suns vs. #7 Los Angeles Lakers
Phoenix should be thrilled to be back in the postseason. When you threaten for the one seed and finish in second you can’t act like a team that is just happy to be here. Their reward an opening round series with the defending champion Lakers. This is a tough draw for the Suns. I expect defense, defense and more defense in this series. This will look more like an Eastern Conference game from the 80’s and 90’s. Chris Paul will use his guile to keep the Suns in this series. Lack of experience and size will haunt the Suns. I think the champs get through this one and end the great season for the Suns. Lakers in 6
#3 Denver Nuggets vs. #6 Portland Trail Blazers
Another fantastic series with two very talented teams. These two met two seasons ago and played a dynamite series. Portland is so deep from top to bottom but usually in the playoffs depth gets cut down. Denver will rely on Michael Porter Jr, Aaron Gordon and soon to be MVP Nikola Jokic. This team will miss Jamal Murray and look for the Portland backcourt to thrive in this series. Portland’s defense isn’t elite but can show up at times. If they get enough stops and then count on Dame time this should be a time for Portland to advance. Blazers in 6.