2017 Western Conference Playoff Preview

Western Conference Playoff Preview

 

(1) Golden State Warriors vs (8) Portland Trail Blazers

Season Series: Warriors won 4-0

Four Factors: Per NBA Stats 

 

Warriors

Trail Blazers

OFF RTG

113.2

107.8

DEF RTG

101.1

107.8

EFG%

56.3

52.0

TOV%

14.4

13.7

Key Matchup: Lillard vs Curry

For the Trail Blazers to have any shot at upsetting the Warriors they will need Lillard to put on the show of a lifetime. As impressive as his 59 point effort in a win against the Jazz, it will take more than that for Portland to beat Golden State. For the Warriors the key will be Curry and for him to continue the rhythm hes in. After Durant went down Curry rediscovered his touch and has been constantly reminding everyone who is the games best shooter.

Burning question for the Warriors: How will Durant look?

Burning question for the Trail Blazers: Can Lillard and McCollum score enough to keep it interesting?

Analysis: The Warriors had very little problems with Portland in the regular season and there is no reason to expect anything other than for Golden State to dominate this series. The Warriors have been on a roll lately and they are in the process of acclimating Kevin Durant back into the fold. With him starting to look like he did before his injury, this series has the potential to be ugly and over fast. Portland will need something miraculous from Lillard and McCollum will have to put up big numbers as well just for them to have any shot.

Prediction: Warriors in 4

 

(2) San Antonio Spurs vs (7) Memphis Grizzlies

Season Series: Tied 2-2

Four Factors:

 

Spurs

Grizzlies

Off Rtg

108.8

104.7

Def Rtg

100.9

104.5

Tov%

13.9

13.5

EFG

52.4

49.1

Key Matchup: Gasol vs Gasol

It might not be the most important matchup but seeing the Gasol brothers play each other in the playoffs for the first time will be a treat. Both have had solid years and it will be interesting to see them go at each other in a 7 game series.

Burning question for San Antonio: Can they stop Conley?

Burning question for Memphis: Who can stop Leonard?

Analysis: Memphis will have its hands full with a Spurs squad that is the second best team in the NBA. The Grizzlies though can hang with the Spurs as both of their losses to San Antonio were by 7 and 6 points but can they take 4 games out of 7 from the Spurs. I just don’t see it with the way MVP candidate Kawahi Leonard is playing. The Spurs know they belong in the Western Conference Finals and I don’t see the Grizzlies getting in their way.

Prediction: Spurs in 5

 

(3) Houston Rockets vs (6) Oklahoma City Thunder

Season Series: Rockets 3-1

Four Factors:

 

Rockets

Thunder

Off Rtg

111.8

105.0

Def Rtg

106.4

105.1

Tov%

14.7

14.8

EFG

54.5

50.0

Key Matchup: Harden vs Westbrook

What else would it be? The two best players in the series just also happen to have the two best cases for MVP. Both are outstanding players and I don’t doubt both of them having at least 2 triple-doubles in this series at least.

Burning question for Houston: Can they limit Westbrook’s supporting cast?

Burning question for OKC: Can they defend the Rockets three point attack?

Analysis: This should be the most entertaining series as it features what I assume to be the MVP and the runner up for MVP. Westbrook and Harden have been amazing all season and I fully expect them to put on a show against one another. The Rockets have some much fire power surrounding Harden that its hard to see the Thunder being able to take the series but as we’ve learned this year don’t couldn’t out Russell Westbrook. It will prob take 4 monster triple-doubles but if he can do it they can pull off the upset.

Prediction: Rockets in 6

 

(4) L.A. Clippers vs (5) Utah Jazz

Season Series: Clippers 3-1

Four Factors:

 

Clippers

Jazz

Off Rtg

110.3

107.4

Def Rtg

105.8

102.7

Tov%

13.1

14.5

EFG

53.7

52.6

Key Matchup: Gobert vs Jordan

This is the closest series we will get in the first round and I expect it comes down to which center can limit the others offense from scoring. Gobert has been outstanding on defense and is a legit candidate for defensive player of the year while Jordan has had another solid year down low as well.

Burning question for L.A.: Can they play smart?

Burning question for Utah: Can they stop Chris Paul?

Analysis: This is the hardest series to figure out and ultimately I think homecourt ends up the deciding factor. Both teams are great and feature similar numbers. The Clippers do have a significant advantage at point guard with Paul and its hard to see him not finding a way to defeat the Jazz. Utah is outstanding on defense and it’ll take every bit to beat L.A. 4 times.

Prediction: Clippers in 7

All stats courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball-reference

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