NBA Western Conference Playoff Teams at a Glance
A look at the eight teams representing the Western Conference in this year's NBA Playoffs
No. 1 SAN ANTONIO SPURS (61-21)
For a top seed there sure seems to be a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Spurs. Did they peak too soon? Has age caught up with them as well? Do they have enough size to compete in a long series over the next couple of months? San Antonio will hold off Memphis in the first round but all bets are off after that.
No. 2 LOS ANGELES LAKERS (57-25)
Here is another veteran team that gets the age questions thrown at it. The two-time defending champions have the luxury of 7-footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, the Sixth Man of the Year in Lamar Odom and the best finisher in the game in Kobe Bryant. “Flip the switch” is the phrase du jour around the Lakers in regards as to whether or not they can flip it on. With the size down low and Bryant on the court, the Lakers are always a dangerous team.
No. 3 DALLAS MAVERICKS (57-25)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Is this the last ride for Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and the current Maverick roster? Probably. They have actually instilled a defensive philosophy — 10th in the league in points allowed — but draw a Portland team that might just have their number.
No. 4 OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (55-27)
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Perkins make this a dangerous team in the West. Durant and Westbrook came close of pulling a first-round upset against the Lakers last season, and a year later they might find the Lakers again — this time in the Western Conference finals.
No. 5 DENVER NUGGETS (50-32)
George Karl did a great job with “two” teams this season — the one that had to endure the Carmelo-drama and the one that brought a crop of Knicks over in the trade for Anthony and meshed well enough to post an 18-7 record after the All-Star break. Unfortunately for the Nuggets, OKC stands in the way in the first round.
No. 6 PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (48-34)
Could Portland really be the darlings of the West? Seems like there is a fight between Portland, Oklahoma City and Denver for that crown this postseason. But the Trail Blazers went 16-10 after the break, including an 11-6 mark against playoff teams.
No. 7 NEW ORLEANS HORNETS (46-36)
No David West (ACL) means no chance inside against the Lakers. The Hornets have just four wins against playoff teams since the All-Star break — Memphis, Dallas, Portland and Indiana — and are about as far removed from the 8-0 start of the season as a team could be.
No. 8 MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (46-36)
The Grizzlies might finally get that first playoff victory, but that will be about it — one victory. The loss of Rudy Gay, who received the max contract in the offseason, was not as detrimental to the team as one might think — Memphis scored more per possession sans Gay. But experience will defeat size in the first round as the Grizzlies will put up a fight against the Spurs before an early KO.
— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter