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 Feldy's NBA Playoff review Part II - The Western Conference first round

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TheFeldster
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20110415
PostFeldy's NBA Playoff review Part II - The Western Conference first round

Well, the West have finally gotten around to confirming their playoff seedings, so I'm back with another blog explaining the who, why and where of the Western Conference first round playoffs
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1 v 8 - SAN ANTONIO SPURS VS MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

It's not the Playoffs unless the San Antonio Spurs are playing. Over the course of the last 20 years, the Spurs have missed the Playoffs once - and that miss gave them the No. 1 draft pick Tim Duncan.

This year, the "too old" Spurs of last year have exceeded their own lofty expectation, finishing on top of the West and only just missing out on the No. 1 overall, being beaten out by the Chicago Bulls.

Meanwhile, a team no-one expected to see in the Playoffs are the Memphis Grizzlies. A team that has made the Playoffs only 3 times - and not one a single match in them - is back to the Playoffs, having edged out the Houston Rockets for the 8th spot.

With Manu Ginobili playing with injury for the Spurs, and Rudy Gay missing for the Grizzlies, neither team is without their injury problems. How much it will effect them is still to be seen.



KEY MATCHUP

Tim Duncan vs Zach Randolph

He's one of the NBA's most recognizable names. And Tim Duncan remains a key figure in the fight for the Championship at 34 years of age. Duncan, while surrounded by a more that capable cast of team-mates, is the backbone of Gregg Popovich's team, and the Grizzlies will no doubt be keeping a close eye on him.

His direct teammate in this series is Zach Randolph, playing in his first Playoffs series since 2003 after a career at Portland, New York and the Clippers. Despite his lack of team success, Randolph is an All-Star player, and very important to the Grizzlies - even more so since the injury to dynamic small forward Rudy Gay.

While both teams are very "team orientated", the battle between these two power forwards will definitely be one to watch.

IN SUMMARY

The Grizzlies have played in three Playoff series in NBA history, and lost all of them 0-4.

With the playoff experience of the veteran Spurs, I can't see the Grizzlies doing an awful lot here. If injuries and age take their toll on the Spurs, the Grizz may steal a game. But I think the Spurs should cruise here.

San Antonio in 4.

2 v 7 - LOS ANGELES LAKERS VS NEW ORLEANS HORNETS

The reigning Champions take to the floor in this matchup as the Los Angeles Lakers face off against the New Orleans Hornets

The Lakers have lost some very winnable games this year, and looked shaky in parts. However, early in the season they proved they can be the dominant team that has won the past 2 NBA Championships, getting off to an extremely fast start, winning their first 8 games

Very few teams can say they started in such a way. One of them is the Hornets, who also won their first 8.

While the Lakers have cruised through for the most part since their big start, the Hornets have struggled in part. They threatened to miss the Playoffs, finding themselves in a 3 way scuffle with the Rockets and Grizzlies for the last 2 spots. To top off their shaky form, star forward David West is unlikely to appear in the playoffs after injuring his knee.


KEY MATCHUP

Derek Fisher vs Chris Paul

The Lakers are Kobe Bryant's team - they have been since Shaq departed for Miami. But it would be a folly to disregard to impact that veteran floor general Derek Fisher has had on the Lakers over the years.

The prime playmaker over all of the Lakers Championships in the last decade, Derek Fisher has the Playoff experience that most players can only dream of. And he's up against a true superstar opponent in this series.

For all of their injury and form issues, the Hornets can hold onto some form of hope so long as Chris Paul is on the team. Talk has been rife of Paul being traded to various teams this year, but the talk was stifled by the Carmelo Anthony circus and Paul didn't go anywhere.

Both of these playmakers have a habit of taking control of a game and directing it the way they want it.

Watch as they try to outdo each other here.

IN SUMMARY

Without David West, the Hornets are going to really struggle to get over the LA Lakers. But look for Chris Paul to orchestrate at least one home win here.

Los Angeles in 5.


3 v 6 - DALLAS MAVERICKS VS PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS

The Portland Trailblazers seem cursed. Their marquee draft picks, Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, spend more time on the sidelines than on the court, and it's left to big LaMarcus Aldridge to carry his team.

In this state of disarray, the Blazers have hung on and remain in the Playoffs despite thoughts that they'd miss out.

They come up against the rather impressive Dallas Mavericks, whose odds for the Championship were quite low before the injury to Caron Butler that ended his season. The Mavericks are still a large threat and with 57 wins, will be looking for a Championship this year.


KEY MATCHUP

Dirk Nowitzki vs LaMarcus Aldridge

With Oden still missing and Roy practically a reserve due to his injury, it's down to LaMarcus Aldridge and poached Bobcat Gerald Wallace to carry the load. If the Blazers are to have any hope against the Mavs, Aldridge in particular is going to need to fire offensively.

He'll be going toe-to-toe with one of the greatest scorers from the power forward position in the modern era, Dirk Nowitzki. If Nowitzki is allowed to fire and get a shooting rhythm going, it's lights out for the Blazers.

A lot rests on LMA's shoulders in this one.

IN SUMMARY

The Mavericks have faded out of the public eye recently, but they still should be a formiddable Playoff threat. With all their injury woes, the Blazers still have to power to lift themselves over the line, but I think a Dallas win is more realistic.

Dallas in 5

4 v 5 - OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER VS DENVER NUGGETS

The people of Seattle must be fuming. After a decade of mediocrity following the Payton-Kemp era as the Seattle SuperSonics, Oklahoma City get almost instant success with the same franchise.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are in their 3rd season after replacing the Sonics, and have their first division title tucked away and look like a team that may challenge for a Championship in the future, under superstar Kevin Durant's reign.

Their opponents are the New York Kni Denver Nuggets, featuring half of Stoudamire's pre-Melo teammates.

Without Carmelo Anthony or fellow Knick/former Nugget Chauncey Billups, the Nuggets do not look like a challenger. But they've kept themselves afloat very well since the trade. Playoffs are another matter, but the way the Nuggets have been playing recently is enough to give this series

FELDY'S PICK OF THE ROUND (WEST) cheers



KEY MATCHUP

Russell Westbrook vs Ty Lawson

A career high 37 points. 10 straight 3 point shots. That's what the stat sheet read when the Nuggets faced the Minnesota Timberwolves last week for Ty Lawson.

He's got an ankle injury and isn't a 100% certainty to suit up for Game 1, but coach George Karl is confident he can get up for it anyway.

He's facing off against the second most exciting player on the Thunder, Russell Westbrook, in the point guard position. Westbrook is probably the better player, but Lawson's form is really high and his potential is sky high. This is the moment that he'd want to shine if he wants to play in the 2nd round. And with Westbrook involved, you can be sure it will be a track meet.

IN SUMMARY

The only series in which I can envision an upset on the West, the Thunder still seem a class above the new look Nuggets. But I reckon Denver can steal a couple of games off the Thunder and give them a little scare Wink

Oklahoma City in 6.
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Feldy's NBA Playoff review Part II - The Western Conference first round :: Comments

Agreed on 4 v 5 being the pick of the round here. Denver has been WAY better than expected since the trade. The Thunder should still her too much though, and their last two matchups indicated as much.

Surprised I had forgotten Memphis were 0-fer given how much I loved that stat and love to throw iT out. Their recent form has me thinking they could trouble the Spurs some. I reckon Memphis can get two wins there.

Though I just got that feeling another Dallas meltdown is on its way. Portland in 6 for me. What a great first round series these two team gae us in 2003, when Portland forced te issue 7 despite trailing 3-0.

Love your work Feldy. Almost as much as I love Penelope Cruz, but not quite.
And gotta appreciate the effort you put in too, it's no small task to create these previews now that for some reason you can't copy paste images. Kudos to the dedication.
Cheers man, glad you enjoy it. I know I enjoy writing them up, even if it takes a fair slice of my day out Laughing

On Dallas, they did finish with a 4 game winning streak, and they've played some great ball all year. I don't think they'll win the Championship, but I still think they'll take Portland out this round.
 

Feldy's NBA Playoff review Part II - The Western Conference first round

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