It’s been an all-LA spring in the sports world. All three major teams that play in the Staples Center have advanced in the playoffs, meaning those security guards that work there will be getting lots of OT, especially this weekend with games everyday, including two doubleheaders. So which team is the most likely to advance beaten the veteran Lakers, the upstart Clippers, and the surprising Kings in hockey? Put your money on the ice squad. Why do I say that? Keep reading my NBA Western Conference playoff recap and look ahead to Round 2.
1 San Antonio Spurs vs 8 Utah Jazz (Prediction - San Antonio in 4, Actual - Same): They have the best coach and play the best team ball. I know they were watching the Memphis-LA Clippers series thinking “we’re gonna smoke whoever we play next.” And Tony Parker said “nous allons battre celui que nous jouons.”
2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs 7 Dallas Mavericks (Prediction – OKC in 5, Actual – OKC in 4): This series ended so long ago, I forgot what happened in it. From what I remember, the Thunder didn’t really play a good game in this series. Dallas put up a strong effort in the series. That should go to show how good the Thunder are this season.
3 Los Angeles Lakers vs 6 Denver Nuggets (Prediction – LA Lakers in 6, Actual – LA Lakers in 7): Everyone thought the problem in this series would be Kobe jacking up shots and not getting the Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol involved. So the big men decided to just skip the middle man and check out of the 3 losses in the series. Who would have thought that it would take Metta World Peace to restore order in Game 7. But really, this Lakers team has a serious talent deficiency outside of the big three. And more important, the heart is lacking outside of Kobe.
4 Memphis Grizzlies vs 5 Los Angeles Clippers (Prediction – Memphis in 7, Actual – LA Clippers in 7): Two virtually even teams. But let’s not fool ourselves: this series was settled in Game 1.
So let’s move on to what promises to be quick work in this 2nd Round of the Playoffs
1 San Antonio Spurs vs 5 Los Angeles Clippers (Game 1, Tuesday 9:30pm, TNT): The Clippers have no chance in this series if we see stat lines like this again: 8 pts, 4 rebs, 2 blk, 2 TO. No that’s not Caron Butler, that is Blake Griffin in Game 7. He’s going to have to have a bigger impact against a team that is not as offensively challenged like Memphis. But if there is a series that Chris Paul wanted, it would be this one, if that counts for anything. Spurs in 5
2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs 3 Los Angeles Lakers (Game 1, Monday 9:30 pm, TNT): Why was Denver so successful against the Lakers in the last series? Lightning quick and dynamic point guard play, big men not yielding in the paint, and outhustling the Lakers on loose balls and transition plays. I think Oklahoma City can double-check all of those boxes. But here is hoping to the basketball gods that Bynum and Gasol get it and come to play this series because if the Lakers can make this a half-court game I love their chances. Out of respect for Kobe and the fact the Lakers still have two seven-footers I will make this pick. Thunder in 6