After a long wait, it's finally time for playoff basketball! Check out our predictions for the 1st round matchups in the Western Conference below....
Los Angeles Lakers - Portland Trailblazers
Off the strength of a dominating performance by Damian Lillard, the Portland Trailblazers put together a more than memorable run to solidify their spot in the NBA Playoffs. As fun as it’s been to watch the Blazers have looked liked the most emotionally and physically drained team heading into a series. Even at full strength quite have enough to matchup with this Los Angeles Lakers team. Despite not looking their best in these past 8 games, expect to see the Lakers find their rhythm offensively against a poor defense in Portland. Los Angeles will certainly have their hands full trying to make things difficult for Lillard, but the Blazers also have absolutely no answer for LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Although I expect the Lakers to start playing like a true 1 seed, I could never imagine a sweep for Dame Time.
Lakers Win: 4-1
Los Angeles Clippers - Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks have bright future to look forward to with rising star Luka Doncic. He might be one of the most difficult players to guard in this league, but what better arsenal of defenders can you throw at him than what the Clippers have in Patrick Beverely, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard. Dallas has struggled against this Los Angeles team all year and that should continue in this series. The Mavs aren’t your typical 7 seed from a talent stand-point, and that should allow them to steal a couple games. At the end of the day, the Clippers are a more complete team and that will win-out in this series.
Clippers Win: 4-2
Denver Nuggets - Utah Jazz
The emergence of Michael Porter Jr has given this Denver offense a much higher ceiling. Missing Bojan Bagdonovic has certainly hurt the offense in Utah and it looks like Mike Conley will be missing at least 3 games in this opening series. We learned last year that Donovan Mitchell isn’t capable of carrying a team through an entire series just yet. it’s hard to trust the Jazz right now and Denver should take this series comfortably.
Denver Wins: 4-1
Houston Rockets - Oklahoma City Thunder
This will be the series to watch in the Western Conference. After being traded from Houston this past off-season, Chris Paul and the Thunder have surprised a lot of people with the success they had this year. You could make the argument that they have been the most consistent team in the west since the restart began. Russell Westbrook’s availability is up in the air and that is a tough loss for the Houston Rockets. Without Westbrook, James Harden and company are dependent on their ability to capitalize on their large volume of 3 point shots. This series will be a back and forth battle. 7 games.
Houston Wins: 4-3
Be sure to checkout our predictions in the Eastern Conference as well!