The top six places in the Western Conference were decided shortly after the New Year, with teams like the Jazz putting in good shifts to secure a good seed. Recently, Memphis and Portland were guaranteed the last two spots in the Western Playoffs. But who will reign supreme to face the best of the East?
Golden State Warriors vs Portland Trail Blazers
Portland struggled until the New Year and the pickup of Jusuf Nurkic – the Bosnian centre has helped Portland go on a run which ensured they snatched eighth seed from the Denver Nuggets. Add this to Damian Lillard and the continuing form of CJ Mccollum, and we see a very offensively sound Blazers side. However, will the Warriors’ ‘Big Four’ of Durant, Klay, Draymond and Steph Curry overwhelm them with their perimeter shooting. Expect a straight shootout between these two sides, with the Warriors coming out on top.
Prediction: Warriors 4-2
San Antonio Spurs vs Memphis Grizzlies
The Spurs have proven to be one of the best all round teams in the NBA – while possessing All Stars such as Kawhi Leonard, the depth of their squad and the ball movement means that every player has contributed to a wonderful season. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, have been fairly underwhelming in the New Year, though Mike Conley and Marc Gasol provide the offensive threats for a fairly miserly side.
Prediction: Spurs 4-1
Houston Rockets vs Oklahoma City Thunder
In what is labelled the ‘battle for MVP’, the two best players (this season) match up in what should be a tantalising battle. Russell Westbrook and James Harden have been nothing short of phenomenal this season, and this matchup may be decided by which of the supporting cast can help out theiir talismen.
Prediction: Oklahoma 4-3
Los Angeles Clippers vs Utah Jazz
Los Angeles are another team like the Spurs – they share the points and the responsibility around. Stars such as Blake Griffin, Deandre Jordan and Chris Paul can help overpower weaker sides, but it will be intriguing to see how they match up against the defensive prowess of Rudy Gobert and Gordon Hayward. Do the Jazz have enough firepower over a series?
Prediction: Clippers 4-2