Sunday, April 20, 2008

Playoff Predictions: Western Conference

LA Lakers (1)

Denver Nuggest (8)

Despite the injury to Bynum, the Lakers should be able to dispose of the Nuggets fairly easily. Denver plays absolutely no defense; and as we all know, Defense wins championships. They can match up offensively with the Lakers, however. But you can't expect to outscore a very efficient Lakers team night in and night out. Iverson and Anthony will combine to score like 60+ PPG, but they may get little production from their other players. JR Smith will be an X-Factor for this team. But generally, the Lakers are a much deeper and talented team than Denever. Denver will win 1 game, possible 2, based on the will of their superstars. But Camby can't single-handedly stop the entire Lakers team. And Kobe is hungry for his first title without Shaq. --- Lakers in 5

New Orleans Hornets (2)

Dallas Mavericks (7)

Most experts pick Dallas to win because of experience, and I tend to agree. This is the Hornets first playoff run, and I think they are going to fall short. Chris Paul will be a beast, but I'm not sure if he'll get enough production from his bench to win. I dislike the lack of depth on this Hornets squad. Injuries or foul trouble will kill this team. Dirk and Kidd are way more experienced, and will find ways to win in those close games. Josh Howard should have a huge series also. Neither Peterson or Stojakovic will be able to defind him efficiently. Terry off the bench could be an X-Factor. David West and Chandler on the other side will need to take advantage of a weak Dallas front court. Dallas has struggled against teams with winning records. So this series could go to 7. Chris Paul could surprise everyone, though. --- Dallas in 7

San Antonio Spurs (3)

Phoenix Suns (6)

While the Phoenix Suns have won the last two meetings against the Spurs, I'm not convinced that they can take out the defending champions in a 7 game series. The Spurs are starting to get healthy and will be dangerous in the playoffs. Amare and Shaq have gotten in foul trouble in previous games, and I think that could be a huge factor in this series. Bowen will have to do a solid job in slowing down Steve Nash for the Spurs to win. I like the Spurs because they consistently play good defense. I think the Suns need more time to gel with Shaq before they can compete for a title. Ginobilli and Parker are going to scorch the Suns. But don't sleep on Duncan, who is the foundation of this team. Both on offense and defense; everything runs through him. It will be a tight series, regardless. --- San Antonio in 7

Utah Jazz(4)

Houston Rockets(5)

I'll be rooting for Houston to win this series, but I don't like their chances. They lost to Utah last year in 7 games, and this year they are missing Yao. Utah is unbeatable at home, so if Houston falters in the first couple of games, this series could be over quickly. Houston plays great defense, but they are going to struggle to make points without Alston and Yao. Also they don't have anyone to match up against Deron Williams or Carlos Boozer; the two big stars on the Utah team. Korver is an underrated pickup by Utah and could be a difference maker in the series. Houston has been thriving in the underdog role all season, though. But I think their miracle run will come to an end with this series. At least, they have 22-0. T-Mac cannot be blamed for this year's lose. Injuries were the culprit. --- Utah in 6

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