Western Conference is going to be a lot of fun for the final 30 games. It’s almost impossible to rank the teams in the NBA Odds. However here's a look at the currently playoff matchups out West.
#1 Golden State Warriors vs. #8 Phoenix Suns
The Warriors have been nothing short of fantastic this season, NBA odds show them as one of the best teams and watching Golden State grow up has been a pleasure. Steve Kerr has built on what Mark Jackson started, and it’s let this team to a four game lead in the West with 31 games to go. However while they should hold onto the number one overall seed, their first round matchup might be an interesting one if the Suns fall out of the eighth seed.
The Suns look like they are actively trying to trade Goran Dragic, and with the Thunder only a half game back of the Suns for the 8th seed, I am assuming the Suns drop out of the playoffs and the Thunder get in. Currently the Thunder are six games back of the 7th seed, so getting that with only 29 games to go would be a stretch. However if the Thunder get into the 8th seed to play the Warriors, I am probably going to be backing the Thunder. OKC has mismatch nightmare written all over them when they come into Golden State. Stephen Curry is good, but Russell Westbrook would wear him out, and while Draymond Green is going to get some recognition for his defense this season, he won’t be enough to stop Kevin Durant from shooting over him. Plus that would create a mismatch down low on Serge Ibaka. Don’t be in a hurry to add the Warriors as your NBA pick to win it all, because this would just be their first round matchup. Mass tanking to avoid the Thunder in the first round might be the thing come April.
#2 Memphis Grizzlies vs. #7 San Antonio Spurs
I for one hope that this series stays in tact, because every time these two teams get together it’s a great series that goes seven games and is filled with some of the greatest examples of basketball that we have today. Both of these teams play physical; team oriented basketball that is rivaled by most of the league. However while I do think the Grizzlies will hold onto the #2 seed, the Spurs might climb out of the seventh.
The Spurs have suffered injuries to Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker this season, and they are only two games back of the 4th seed in the West, and 2nd in their division behind the Grizzlies, whom they are five games back of. Even though it would be a great series, I think the Clippers or even the Rockets could fall behind the Spurs before it’s all over.
#3 Portland Blazers vs. #6 LA Clippers
The Blazers lucked into the Thunder being injured a ton this season, and now they hold an eight game lead on OKC with 29 games to go. That’s going to be hard to make up, especially because of how tough the Thunder’s schedule is, so Portland is almost automatically locked into the 3rd seed. However if the above scenario turns out to happen and it’s the Spurs in the 6th seed, I would be all over the Spurs in that scenario.
The Clippers could be in some trouble with the injury to Blake Griffin, but lucky for them the All Star Break happened when it did. He will still be force to miss crucial upcoming games against the Spurs, Grizzlies (twice) and Bulls. Los Angeles is going to have to face the music sooner or later, and while their window is far from closing, it may not be as open as some of us originally thought this season. The West is unforgiving this season.
#4 Houston Rockets vs. #5Dallas Mavericks
If Houston can get home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, and James Harden isn’t the MVP, it’s a crime. Harden has taken his game to another level yet again this season, and it’s getting harder and harder to understand why Oklahoma City traded this guy away for a song and a few lap dances. Clay Bennett ($400 million) doesn’t have as much money as Mark Cuban ($3 billion) or Paul Allen ($15.8 billion) but the salary cap is about to go up, and he looks like an idiot if Harden wins the MVP in the same conference. However for all of that, the Rockets might be in trouble if Dwight Howard isn’t 100% by the playoffs.
The Mavs just signed Amare Stoudemire after he was bought out by the Knicks, which gives them a much-needed asset after they traded Brandan Wright for Rajon Rondo. This will allow the Mavs to play even faster by putting Stoudemire at the five for 20 minutes per game, and in this playoff series, it would be very hard to pick a winner. Houston might win in seven, but Dallas could easily out pace the Rockets if Houston isn’t healthy.