This is my second preview of the NBA Playoffs in the first round. The Eastern Conference Preview is located just below this one. The Wild West is a little more tricky when it comes to predicting winners, because 1-9* each and every team can surprise and run on any night..
*(Clippers are in a fight for the 8 spot with the Warriors)
1 Dallas Vs. 8 Golden State Warriors
What We Know: Dallas is the most Complete team in the Playoffs. Hands Down end of story. Pick your poison, They can run you out the Gym with Terry, Howard, Harris, or they can let Dirk sit back and kill you on the Perimeter. There Big men are efficient enough to go at anybody (though none of them are expected to score) and they bring Stackhouse off the Bench who on anybody Else's team would be starting. For the Warriors, assuming they hold on, Speed kills, and they have alot of it. Bringing the Don Nelson Run and shoot offense, expect Baron, Harrington, J-Rich, and Monta Ellis to keep the ball in constant movement.
X Factor. For the Mavs, Coaching..Avery Johnson lives by the principal of locking down when it counts. His in game coaching is right up there with the very best and I expect him to close the driving lane down in this series, forcing GSW to shoot. For the Warriors, Al Harrington and Stephen Davis are going to have to control the tempo..Theyre going to want to run, and if I were Baron and J-Rich, Id be telling them, Do what feels good. There taller then the Mavs guards, and more athletic.
Breakdown: Dirk is ultimately going to be to much for the Warriors. They have no answer for him. In a series where you can expect high scoring games, it will be quick work for the Mavs b/c no Warriors defend.
Mavs win 4-1
2 Phoenix 7 Lakers
What we Know: Last year this was the Series of the Playoffs. Kobe Raja Bell Smush Parker Steve Nash Lamar and Marion all played like this series was going to determine the winner of the finals. I expect much more of the same this year...We know Kobe's gonna get his, period..In fact if Phoenix learned anything from last year, let him get his, but deny everyone else. We also know Smush is to fast for Steve Nash, BUT Steve is tough. After getting posterized by Kobe last year he got up and scored 12 more to lead his tem to victory in overtime. As for Phoenix, they bring a completely different team to the table this year. Gone is Tim Thomas, and Back is Amare. which brings me to my X-factor..
X Factors: For the Suns, they have Amare back. Trouble, and I do mean Trouble for Lakers Big Men Down Low. Also, they have this guy named Barbosa, who if you dont know is the fastest, player in the NBA, and once inserted into the game, will score at will. He's a better shooting Tony Parker, and he doesnt even start. For the Lakers, Luke Walton and Lamar Odom are going to have to remain in the game. Them getting in foul trouble will spell the end to the Lakers.
Breakdown: Kobe is the BEST PLAYER in the NBA right now, but I keep scratching my head wandernig if he's alone can beat Phoenix..Hell, if not for a Tim Thomas 3 he wouldve did it last year..As for Phoenix, just let Steve do his thing, and take the pressure of of him on Defense and they should be fine. With Amare and Marion Down Low, one would assume this series should favor the Suns
Suns win 4-2
3 San Antonio Vs. 6 Denver
What We Know: The Spurs are the Hottest Team in Basketball, and can beat you on a variety of levels. Timmy, Tony Parker and Manu are probably the deadliest 3 man in the league..Each can take over a game and each is capable of fouling out someone who you depend on. For the Nuggets, when you have the number 2 and 4 scorers in the NBA its highly recommended you play towards there strengths.
XFactor: The Urban Legend that is Bruce Bowens defense Skills will be called to the test. Carmelo Anthony Can flatout feel it up, but if Bruce can frustrate him (which I expect) he will make quick work of the Nuggets by himself. For the Nuggets, you need Camby to be the man he's been all year long . Camby is atop the league in Defensive Rebounds and Block shots. Playing Tim Duncan, he's gonna have to guard for the slow yet effective drop step bank and go. If he can play Tim Duncan to his left forcing him away from the basket, he has a shot to be successful..I expect Nene to offer significant help in this area.
Bottom Line: This is one of those series where expecting ghe unexpected gets you serious Browny Points..AI is finals tested, and you know he's gonna drive Tony Parker crazy. Carmelo is going to have to bite his lip, grind it up and play through the dirty underhandedness of Bowen..If he allows Bowen to get in his head, its a wrap. All in all I gotta ride with San Antonio though. To much of the big 3 is going to be the downfall of the Nuggets..
Spurs win 4-1
4 Utah 5 Rockets
What We Know: The Rockets bring the best 1-2 Combo in the NBA in Yao Ming and T-Mac. Both are playing A level ball, and are playing great off of each other. As for the Jazz, Boozer, and Darren Williams are showing everybody there the future of the West. Malone and Stockton and rest assure knowing there legacy is well in tack with these 2 at the helm
X Factor: For the Rockets Shane Battier, Luther Head, and Chuck Hayes are going to have to be on all the time. Battier needs to ensure that Mehmet doesn't go off for 20 which he is more then capable of doing so. Luther needs to pick up all the scoring slack Bonzi wont, and Chuck Hayes needs to relieve Defensive pressure off Yao when the Pick and Roll comes, b/c believe me the Pick and Roll will come. For Utah, Mehmet Okur, and AK47 are European nightmares. They can both shoot rebound and defend. Mehmet is a matchup headache being 7ft. tall with a 3 point stroke. AK 47 flat our wears you out. He's a defensive stud who can lock down on T-mac and frustrate him to no end..They also have Derek Fisher who at any given moment can shoot your lights out.
Bottom Line, In order for the Rockets to Win, there going to have to start and finish this series with Yao. No exceptions..Whens he's Off T-Mac's gonna have to pick up the slack immediately, as the Jazz can score in bunches. For the Jazz, I'd pick and roll all game long. Yao is to slow to defend on the perimeter and Okhur, Boozer, and Kirelinko can all shoot. The Team with the Homecourt advantage will win this series, as both teams are to evenly matched for me to give anything accurate..
Rockets win 4-3 (each game will be close)