What an incredible start to the NBA Playoffs in the Western Conference, two series with intense game 7’s. But we are off to the second round with Ryan and my predictions for the Western Conference Semifinals.
Lakers (1) v Rockets (4)
Jarael: We finally made it here. The Western Conference Semifinals. I tried to be cool and predict an upset in the first round and it was one shot away from being the Thunder over the Rockets. I was impressed with how the Thunder played. They were a bit more inconsistent than in season play but they played with a lot of heart. Chris Paul is 35 and still one of the best leaders in the NBA. Hell of a series. I think the most impressive thing about the Rockets is they stick to their game plan. Lots of threes and they try to play hard on-ball defense. However, they do run into a bit of an obstacle, well two. Anthony Davis and LeBron James. There is not one person who can guard either one of those players for the Rockets. If they don’t make threes, this series won’t be pretty at all. I like Westbrook’s advantage on the open floor and at the rim. Harden will score at will on Green and Caldwell-Pope, but I think in the long run, when they slow the game down in the half court, Anthony Davis dominates. I don’t want to disrespect the Rockets, but i think the Lakers are a better team and more importantly, they are playing like they are a better team. I like the Lakers. If we see 30 PPG LeBron, they could potentially sweep the Rockets. Am I crazy? I don’t know. (Lakers 4-1).
Ryan: So you’re telling me, it was James Hardens’ defense that came up clutch in the final seconds of a Game 7? Maybe this Rockets team is realizing there are other ways to win games than jacking up 50 3-pointers a game, but I doubt it. The problem the Rockets are going to face is when they start to see the Lakers take a decent lead, will they try to chip away at the lead with small ball or start throwing up Hail Mary 3’s to get back into it quickly? I assume the latter. I can see the Rockets winning Game 1 and maybe another game in the series when they are on fire shooting. But eventually they will shoot themselves in the foot and lose the series with their lack of discipline. (Lakers 4-2).
Clippers (2) v Nuggets (3)
Jarael: Of all the match ups left in the playoffs, this is the one I am least excited about. Murray has been a man among boys in the playoffs but I look for that to come to an end. Kawhi and the Clippers team defense will be a bit more effective than the Jazz. I think my problem with this match up is it’s not exciting, it’s not a challenge. I hate to say it but I can see the Nuggets not winning a game. The Nuggets seem to be playing hard with less talent, similar to OKC but the Nuggets at least have a few players that could be considered all stars. I think Jokic is the only person who can make this series challenging. If he is able to be dominant with his passing and putting pressure on the bigs in the post and beyond the arc, I can see the Nuggets being more competitive. But more competitive is not enough in the playoffs, you need to have talent, effective coaching and good team chemistry. The Nuggets are not as talented and it will hurt them in the end. I also think we see the Clippers begin to play better basketball. Kawhi tends to get better as the playoffs go on. I think we see Paul George play consistently and they get more energy from Harrell. This Clippers team is scary and I think they put that fear into the Nuggets. I will give the Nuggets one game, the bubble has been weird. We shall see, Clipped (4-1). I am definitely crazy.
Ryan: Frankly, I do not have a lot of confidence (mostly because of Paul George) in the Clippers as I almost predicted an upset against the Mavs last round. My lack of confidence continues into this round against the Nuggets. I feel that Paul George is extremely overrated and do not see PG taking a team to the finals as the 2nd best player on a team. This is why I am going with the upset! The Nuggets do worry me as they looked exhausted at the end of Game 7 the other night, but I feel that they are more balanced as a team. I see this series going back and forth and I hope I continue to see Murray light it up. (Nuggets 4-3).
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