The regular season has concluded and the 2017 NBA Playoffs are set to open on Friday, April 12th. Below are my previews and predictions for every series in the West.
#8 Portland Trail Blazers vs. #1 Golden State Warriors
In one of the better point guard matchups in this first round, Damian Lillard’s Trail Blazers take on Stephen Curry and the mighty Warriors. Lillard averaged 27 PPG, 5 RPG, and 6 APG to lead Portland while Curry had another outstanding year with 25/7/5 and a second straight season with over 300 threes. I expect some high scoring games with both back courts leading the charge. The Warriors swept the three game series against Portland this year and I expect them to have little trouble with the Blazers in this series. Golden State overwhelms Portland in 5 games to advance.
#7 Memphis Grizzlies vs. #2 San Antonio Spurs
If you like grind it out possessions on offense and a heavy emphasis on defense, this will be the first round matchup for you to watch. These two teams split their 4 games series this year, with the home team winning all four games and either team topping 100 points just once in the whole series. The Spurs have not missed a beat in their first season since Tim Duncan retired, as they put up yet another 60+ win season. Kawhi Leonard has carried some serious MVP consideration with his play this season and Lamarcus Aldridge is filling Duncan’s void nicely. The Grizzlies are led by Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, as they try to pull off the upset. The Spurs have been here time and again and will have no problem handling Memphis. San Antonio sweeps the series.
#6 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. #3 Houston Rockets
Top 2 MVP candidates Russell Westbrook and James Harden face off against each other in what will be the most anticipated playoff matchup in either conference. Westbrook averaged the first triple double for a season since Oscar Robertson (31 PPG, 10 APG, 10 RPG), while Harden wasn’t far behind with 29 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds. Mike D’antoni’s high powered Rockets lead the league in 3 point attempts and look to get back to the Western Conference Finals after a one year absence, while Russell Westbrook has willed his team to the playoff’s despite the loss of superstar Kevin Durant. At the end of the day, Harden has a lot more around him than Westbrook does and the Rockets will beat the Thunder in 6.
#5 Utah Jazz vs. #4 Los Angeles Clippers
After a four year drought, the Utah Jazz are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Gordon Hayward, whose is likely to opt out of the final year of his contract this summer, averaged 22 points per game during the best season of this career to this point. The Jazz front court is anchored by big man Rudy Gobert who averaged 14 points and 13 rebounds this season. Meanwhile, the Chris Paul – Blake Griffin led Clippers seem to be a 4 or 5 seed every year, but have yet to break through beyond the second round. I think the Clippers experience and the realization that their window may be closing with the upcoming free agencies of Paul or Griffin will have them playing motivated basketball in the first round. Los Angeles wins a hard fought series in 7 games.
Let me know what your predictions are in the comments down below.