The West has been wild already in the first round. An eight seed knocked off a one seed for the second time in a seven game series. Other than that, the prohibited favorites handled their business and moved on to the next stage of their championship chase. Without further adieu, here are my predictions for these two second round playoff battles.
Grizzlies vs Thunder
The Thunder and the Grizzlies come into this series after they both pretty much handled the Nuggets and Spurs respectively. The Grizzlies are led by their PG, Mike Conley and their stud in the paint, PF Zach Randolph. The Grizzlies must out-physical the Thunder in the paint, which could be a huge task because of the presence of C Kendrick Perkins. The Grizzlies are not a big jump-shooting team, so the Thunder must discourage them from coming in the paint. If they do that, this could be a tough series for the Grizz. For the Thunder, the biggest key is PG Russell Westbrook. He must find balance on the offensive end and get everyone involved. If he starts making this game a one-on-one matchup between he and Conley, then star SF Kevin Durant doesn’t get his touches and the Grizz keep the game close. I expect SG Tony Allen to get some looks at guarding Durant. If Allen is successful, then the Grizz can hang around. This series will come down to who can make the outside shot consistently and that’s the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Prediction: Oklahoma City wins series 4-2
Dallas vs Los Angeles
The Mavs come off an exciting series against the Blazers and now head into the next round to take on the LA Lakers. Dallas has played more physical than in past years and that’s all due to the presence of C Tyson Chandler. He will be very important in this series as the Lakers have the twin towers of PF Pau Gasol and C Andrew Bynum. Chandler must give these guys something to think about on the defensive end as well as be effective on the offensive boards. If not, Dirk will be by himself against the two seven-footers. Dirk not only has to show up on the offensive end, but on the defensive boards as well. After all, he is a 7 footer too. Another key for the Mavs will be Jason Terry. He has to show up and help match the scoring of Kobe and the Lakers. For the Lakers, they must simply impose their will on the Mavs. The Mavs have been known to back down when things get tough, so the Lakers must test that theory. The big key will be Bynum. If he is aggressive offensively, the Mavs will not be able to stop them. Bynum coupled with Gasol and Kobe will eventually overpower the Mavs.
Prediction: Los Angeles wins series 4-2
These are my predictions for the Western Conference second round. Enjoy the games folks!