Can the Grizzlies upset the Spurs in the playoffs?

The NBA regular season is hitting the final stretch as they are coming to the end of March in starting one of the key months of the season in April. Usually around this time, the playoff seeding in both conferences are pretty much set as most of us get a good idea of what teams will be facing off in the first round.

As right now, the Eastern Conference has the best idea of what seems playoff bound as there are four teams within the conference that aborted plans playoff spots. With the Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic clinched in their spots already, but only four spots left in the East and things could get interesting has teams will be battling it out for a chance to play the elite in this conference.

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The Western Conference on the other hand is looking much different right now has only one team in the conference has been held to clinch a playoff spot. With the San Antonio Spurs continuing their remarkable season with just 13 losses so far in over 70 games, Tim Duncan and company have been the first team in the West to post their tickets the playoffs.

Even though the seeding in the Western Conference can go up and down from here on out, the consensus at this point in time is the Spurs will walk up the number one seed and face off against the eighth seed in the West when it is all said and done.

As it always is, the eighth seed in both conferences usually tend to stay open until the final week of the NBA regular season. In the West there seems to be a tight race between the Memphis Grizzlies (37-31), Utah Jazz (36-33), Houston Rockets (35-34) and maybe even the Phoenix Suns (33-33).

Obviously, but the records shown above, the Memphis Grizzlies look to have the best chance of locking up that eighth spot and facing the San Antonio Spurs in the first round playoffs. This could be good news and it could be bad news for the Grizzlies as they have played exceptionally well recently, but will definitely have their work cut out for them against a very good Spurs squad.

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In my opinion, even though they probably won’t be thought to do much damage chance arguably the best team in league, the Grizzlies have a chance to pull off the upset as a matter pretty well with the Spurs.

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It is a bit of a stretch at this point in time to say that the Memphis Grizzlies could give the San Antonio Spurs a run for their money in the first round playoffs, but I wouldn’t count them out as it seems prudent to be extremely resilient when pushed up against a wall.

This matchup could easily change come playoff time, but with the way both teams are playing right now, I would anticipate this being the first round matchup between the first and eighth seed in the Western Conference.

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NBA Matchup: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks

San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks Fri. March 18, 2011 8:30 p.m. EST

The NBA regular season is really starting to wind down now as most teams around the league have no more than 15 games last before they are either headed home or into the playoffs. Two teams in the Western Conference that could be serious force to be reckoned with come playoff time are the San Antonio Spurs (54-13) and the Dallas Mavericks (48-20).

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SAN ANTONIO - APRIL 18:  Forward Dirk Nowitzki...
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Even though the San Antonio Spurs seem to have a tight grip on the number one seed in the Western Conference right now the Dallas Mavericks have just fallen out of the second spot in the West after the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers just went on a tear recently, these two teams will probably be looking to kill each other when they go head to head this Friday night in Dallas, Texas.

There will be basically nothing on the line for either one of these teams coming into this matchup, but with the potential of these two teams possibly meeting in the playoffs they will want to feel each other out and get a sense of what the matchups should be if they are to meet in the Western Conference playoffs.

There is a slight chance that the Dallas Mavericks could get back into the second spot in the Western Conference if they can get back to their winning ways over the next few weeks. The Los Angeles Lakers may be arguably the hottest team in the league right now as they have gotten it championship swagger back after struggling a bit at about the midway point of the NBA regular season, but since the two teams have identical records right now and will play each other one more time before the playoffs, positioning in the West isn’t exactly set in stone right now.

With that being said, and the fact that this game will be played on their home floor in Dallas, the Mavericks could come out with some playoff intensity in this game as they never like losing at home or losing to the rival San Antonio Spurs.

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As for the San Antonio Spurs, they will be looking to get back on track as they have struggled as of late after losing two big games to Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat on their home floor in San Antonio. These two losses to NBA title contenders will have almost certainly been wakeup calls for head coach Gregg Popovich. With that being said, the Spurs might also come out with a playoff intensity in this game which could make things very interesting moving forward as this might be an all-out battle from start to finish.

As of right now, I believe the San Antonio Spurs are the better all around team, but with their playoff seeding basically being fairly solid at this point they might not take the game as seriously as the Dallas Mavericks. If the Spurs start to lose early on, I would anticipate Popovich letting his foot off the accelerator and letting his reserves get some time while resting his starters.

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NBA Power Rankings: Lakers reclaim top spot with dominant victory over Spurs

#1 Los Angeles Lakers (45-19)

The two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers may have been struggling heading into the All-Star break, but the loss to arguably the worst team in the league in the Cleveland Cavaliers may have been just what the doctor ordered for this team as they have been the hottest team in the NBA since that loss.

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With seven straight wins and a dominant performance over arguably the best team in the league in the San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Lakers are making a case for the fact that they might be NBA Finals bound for the fourth straight year.

SAN ANTONIO - JANUARY 14:  Kobe Bryant #24 of ...
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#2 Chicago Bulls (43-18)

Even though the Chicago Bulls were targeting hometown boy free agent Dwyane Wade this last summer, not being able to sign the superstar may have been a blessing in disguise as point guard Derrick Rose has quickly become the favorite for NBA MVP this season and has led this team to second place in the Eastern Conference after a big win over the Miami Heat.

Whether or not the Bulls can maintain this kind of momentum remains to be seen, but as of right now they seem to be playing as well as any team in the league with a solid shot at clinching a high seed in the East heading into the playoffs.

#3 San Antonio Spurs (51-12)

Throughout the majority of this NBA regular season, the San Antonio Spurs have been the team to beat as they have been able to stay relatively healthy and consistently win basketball games. Ever since the All-Star break though, the Spurs have lost two big games to the Memphis Grizzlies and the arch rival Los Angeles Lakers.

Even though these losses haven’t really affected their chances of clinching the top seed in the West, they have shown that this team can be vulnerable and as a result they have fallen to third from first on this list.

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#4 Dallas Mavericks (45-17)

The Dallas Mavericks are staying strong in the Western Conference once again as they have been able to hold on to the second seed in the West for quite some time now and got a big boost off the bench with the addition of Corey Brewer, but they might be in danger of losing their grip on the second seed if they can’t hold of the Los Angeles Lakers.

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With just a handful of games left in the NBA regular season, the Mavs will be looking to win as many as possible before playoff time as the defending champs begin to breathe down their necks.

#5 Boston Celtics (46-15)

With all that has happen in the NBA over the past few weeks like the resurgence of the Lakers, struggles of the Heat and the Carmelo Anthony trade, the Boston Celtics have been able to fly relatively under the radar, but they may have their work cut out for them in the final stretch of the season trying to hold off the Chicago Bulls for the top spot in the East.

#6-10 Orlando Magic (40-23), Oklahoma City Thunder (39-22), Memphis Grizzlies (35-29), Miami Heat (43-20), Denver Nuggets (37-27)

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NBA Power Rankings: Lakers rise, Heat fall

1- San Antonio Spurs (49-11)

The San Antonio Spurs continue to play consistently well as the sit atop the NBA power rankings once again. Not only have Tim Duncan and company been able to keep their loss total to just 11, which is pretty impressive to say the least, but they are considered to be the team to beat in the Western Conference from here on out.

The Spurs did suffer a slight setback recently with former All-Star point guard Tony Parker going down with a calf injury, but if San Antonio can continue to play at this level with George Hill at the point over the next month or so, they will almost certainly clinch the number one seed in the West.

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2- Dallas Mavericks (44-16)

The Dallas Mavericks have played an excellent brand on basketball as of late and are just five games behind the league leading San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference, but unless Greg Popovich’s squad starts to struggle without Tony Parker, the Mavs will probably stick at the number two spot.

Mark Cuban made another key addition recently by picking up the recently bought Corey Brewer. This could prove to be a key in the final stretch of the season as Brewer provides an extra scoring punch off the bench.

3- Chicago Bulls (41-17)

There more people doubt this team, the more success they seem to have. Along with All-Star point guard Derrick Rose quickly turning into a legitimate superstar in this league and leading the way in the NBA MVP race, the Chicago Bulls have become arguably one of the best teams in the league.

Whether or not D-Rose and company can compete with the likes of the Celtics, Heat and Magic during the playoffs remains to be seen, but with wins over the Spurs, Lakers and the Heat earlier in the season, the Bulls could be dangerous to say the least.

4- Boston Celtics (43-15)

Not quite sure why the Boston Celtics are this far down this list of the NBA’s best, but I’d bet they will almost certainly rise higher and higher as we get closer and closer to playoff time. The Celtics did make a bold and questionable move by trading away arguably their best defensive big man in center Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder, but they should be able to continue to hold their own as long as they can stay healthy.

Things will get very interesting heading towards the playoffs as we see how well the Celtics can adjust to life without Perkins.

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5- Los Angeles Lakers (43-19)

The two-time defending NBA champions have had their fair share of struggles this season, but they have been able to get back to form recently with five straight wins, three of which over playoff bound teams. This veteran team might still be headed for disappointment come playoff time, but right now they look about as good as it gets in the Western Conference.

6-10: Miami Heat (43-17), Orlando Magic (39-22), Oklahoma City Thunder (36-22), Memphis Grizzlies (34-28), Denver Nuggets (35-26)

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Spurs Injury Update: Tony Parker to miss 2-4 weeks

At this point in the NBA regular season, the consensus around the league is that the San Antonio Spurs are the team to beat. Even though many people of question their age and their ability to sustain this kind of momentum throughout the rest of the season, this Spurs squad has been able to quiet the critics and play some solid basketball on both ends of the floor.

Despite the fact that the San Antonio Spurs are sitting pretty at the top of the Western Conference and have the best record in the league at 49-10, they suffered a major blow recently when point guard Tony Parker went down with a calf injury in the win over the Memphis Grizzlies this past Sunday. This injury doesn’t appear to be serious, but could keep him out as much as a month.

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This is the first major injury that this team has suffered all season long which is impressive to say the least considering the age of this veteran squad. Even though no other team in the Western Conference is really threatening to take the number one seed away from the San Antonio Spurs right now, they could be in trouble without their starting point guard as he is set to miss the next two to four weeks.

SAN ANTONIO - JANUARY 12:  Guard Kobe Bryant #...
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With the way this team is playing most people believe this won’t be much of a problem, but the competition does get much better from here on out as they are set to play teams like the Miami Heat (twice), Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and the Portland Trail Blazers during that span without Parker at the point.

Fortunately, the San Antonio Spurs do have a viable backup for Tony Parker who took over in the same position last season when the French import went down with a hand injury. George Hill played so well in place of Tony Parker last year that he almost threatened to take the starting role from here on out, but it coach Greg Popovich decided to stick with his veteran point guard this year.

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In my opinion, this will be a good test for the San Antonio Spurs as one the main reasons they have been able to contend with the likes of the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers has been due to injuries just like this. So if they can get past this and continue to play well, the Spurs could very well be on their way to yet another NBA championship.

The Los Angeles Lakers are still a very dangerous team and could ultimately be on their way to pulling off the three-peat once again, but they will get some serious competition from their rivals down the stretch. The one edge that the San Antonio Spurs have always had over the Los Angeles Lakers has been at the point guard position and without Tony Parker in the backcourt this weekend in San Antonio, the Spurs might struggle against the defending champs.

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Can the San Antonio Spurs come back down 0-3?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

There are only a handful of teams in the league today that can really say they are battle tested in the playoffs. Obviously there is the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, who have battled adversity over the last three years and then some, but the only other team in the Western Conference that comes close to Kobe Bryant and company in comparison is the San Antonio Spurs.

With four NBA titles in the last 11 years, the San Antonio Spurs have been arguably one of the most dominant teams in the league and always seem to have a tough, gritty basketball team ready to fight for every loose ball in order to get back to title contender status in the league.

It was only a couple years ago when the San Antonio Spurs swept LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, but since then they have really started to show signs of slowing down as Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are no longer young bucks and quite possibly on the downside of their careers.

Whenever team in the NBA looks at a playoff deficit as big as the one that the San Antonio Spurs face against the Phoenix Suns, the series is basically considered over and people are already saying the Suns will be headed to the Western Conference finals. The most likely outcome in this series is that the Suns will advance because coming back from a 0-3 deficit is damn near impossible, but the San Antonio Spurs have that “IT” factor that a lot of teams in the league don’t have and are as resilient as they come.

All you have to do in this series is look at Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich who is arguably one of the best coaches in the league today. Not only is this head coach extremely optimistic, but he has the respect of his players which is something many coaches around the league cannot say. Popovich has the longevity, the titles and the never say die attitude that you need going into an elimination game down by three games.

The Spurs aren’t getting any younger, that is painfully obvious that just the way things go in any professional sport when superstars start to age, but at the same time, the Suns aren’t getting any younger either. Steve Nash is without a doubt on the downside of his career just the way Tim Duncan is, but the difference in my opinion in a series is the experience and the four NBA titles the San Antonio Spurs have to show their resilience.

In my opinion, the Phoenix Suns will be the team to move on because of the fast pace, three point shooting and Jason Richardson. All those factors just seem to be too much for the aging San Antonio Spurs to handle. Even with that being said, I do believe Tim Duncan and company will make a series by winning the next two games and putting the pressure solely on the Phoenix Suns.

Do the Spurs have a chance to win this series?

No doubt my mind they have a chance to win this series, but winning four games in a row is no easy task and might be just too much for the San Antonio Spurs.

NBA Playoff Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Phoenix Suns

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

In the first round of the playoffs, both the San Antonio Spurs and the Phoenix Suns came into their series with a boat load of confidence and their sights set on advancing to the next round.

Despite many people believing that the Dallas Mavericks were the one team in the Western Conference that could give the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers a run for their money, the Spurs showed why they have been such a dominant and resilient team over the years by sending Mark Cuban’s squad packing much earlier than anticipated.

This season has been somewhat of a disappointment for the San Antonio Spurs as they had high hopes of competing with the likes of the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, but just couldn’t stay healthy throughout the regular season.

This past offseason, the Spurs made a trade to try and counter all the moves made by the best teams in the league. The Los Angeles Lakers signed Ron Artest, the Cleveland Cavaliers traded for Shaq, the Boston Celtics added veteran forward Rasheed Wallace and the Orlando Magic got another dominant scorer in Vince Carter.

With all these trades and free agent signings going on throughout the league, the San
Antonio Spurs felt compelled to do something in order to be able to compete with the best teams in the league that only got better during the offseason.

It has become more and more apparent over the last couple of years that the San Antonio Spurs are not getting any younger and a time for new blood is just around the corner, but that didn’t seem like the case in the first round against the Dallas Mavericks as they were able to knockout the second seed in six games.

Now Tim Duncan and company will have another challenge ahead of them in the form of Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns. A couple of years ago, when these two teams met in the playoffs, a lot of controversy surrounded the playoff series between these two teams as suspensions were handed out that ultimately changed the entire series.

Needless to say, the San Antonio Spurs moved on in that series and all anyone could talk about was what would have happen if the suspensions didn’t go the way they went.

Even though that is in the past, the Phoenix Suns have almost certainly not forgotten about it and will look to prove that at some point during this series.

Much like the Milwaukee Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks first round playoff series, I believe the Spurs and the Suns series will go the distance as they two teams are pretty evenly matched in my opinion.

This playoff series will be very entertaining though and definitely one for the books as neither one of these teams will back down and will be giving it everything they have as it just might the last chance for Steve Nash and Tim Duncan to contend for a title.

Series Prediction: 4-3 San Antonio Spurs

Can the San Antonio Spurs make one more title run?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

Over the past decade or so there have only been two teams in the NBA that have really made what you would call an NBA dynasty. When you think of the dynasty in professional sports you think of teams that can dominate for an extended period of time and most importantly win titles and championships consistently.

In the NBA, there’ve only been a few dynasties with only a handful of franchises labeled with that distinction. Back in the 90s it was the Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan leading the way as they won three titles in a row, had a two-year layoff, then won three more titles. If Michael Jordan stayed with the team during the two-year period where he chose to try baseball instead, the Bulls might have one eight titles in row.

The Boston Celtics were also one of these teams that have been called an NBA dynasty as they absolutely dominated the sport throughout the late 50s and 60s with head coach Red Auerbach and some of the greatest players of all-time in point guard Bob Cousy and center Bill Russell. This NBA franchise at one point absolutely dominated for about a 13 year span where they won 11 NBA titles.

Along the Boston Celtics, their hated rival in the Los Angeles Lakers have also had multiple dynasties during the franchise’s history with hall of famers and future hall of fame players like Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant dominating the sport in different eras.

Over this past decade the two teams that did dominate in dynasty like fashion in the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs. It was just title after title for these two teams as they battled back and forth for this distinction of the best team in the NBA at the start of the last decade.

This season the San Antonio Spurs, despite signs of slowing down, have shown that they might be able to contend for a title this season as they are giving the second-seeded Dallas Mavericks all they can handle in the first round of the playoffs.

Coming into the playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks were thought to be the one team in the Western Conference that have the best chance of dethroning the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. That still might be true, if the Lakers can get past the Thunder that is, as Dirk Nowitzki and company are as resilient as they come in the West, but they will first have to get passed Greg Popovich’s squad who are really making them work in the first round.

In game one of this series the Dallas Mavericks got out to a 1-0 series lead and with their impressive play it looked like they would most likely be the team to advance, but in games two and three the San Antonio Spurs got back on the board and to control the series going up 2-1.

Now anything can happen in this series in the Dallas Mavericks could very easily turn things around, but with the way the Spurs are playing in the experience they have in the playoffs I believe Tim Duncan and company will be the team to advance to the second round.

Can the San Antonio Spurs beat the Dallas Mavericks?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan

Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

The defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers are without a doubt the two teams favored to advance to the NBA Finals during these NBA playoffs. Not many people would argue the chances of these two NBA heavyweights meeting when it is all said and done, but with the defending champs looking a little banged up the Dallas Mavericks could end up being the team to come out of the West.

Obviously there are still two more rounds of playoff series to go before the NBA Finals are set, but that will never stop the people from speculating how things will finish in the two conferences.

Coming into the playoffs the Dallas Mavericks had arguably the biggest challenge of any of the high seeds in the Western Conference. The San Antonio Spurs have been arguably one of the most successful NBA franchises in the last decade or so as they have won three NBA titles in the last ten years and a total of four in the last 11.

That kind of success will never go unnoticed and is definitely something in that back of the mind of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban during this first round playoff series. In game one of this series, the Mavs dominated as predicted, but game two was another story altogether as Dirk Nowitzki and company struggled in the loss that evened up the series at 1-1.

Despite the game two victory by the San Antonio Spurs, the Dallas Mavericks are still favored to win this series and for good reason. Even though the Spurs have the titles, the Mavs have the talent and are arguably the hungrier team right now as they have their sights set on the NBA Finals.

The Spurs do have the big name talent in Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and especially Tim Duncan, but the Mavs have the better all around squad in this series in my opinion. The bench play in this series will be huge as the Mavs have arguably the deepest bench the league with Jason Terry leading the way.

With that being said, I believe the Dallas Mavericks being as deep as they are will be the turning point this series from here on out. The Spurs aren’t getting any younger, they may have promising young talent in rookie DeJuan Blair and point guard George Hill, but their veterans are starting to show signs of age and that will become apparent in the final games of this series.

Even though the San Antonio Spurs always seem to put a great team on the floor, the success and longevity has to end sometime and I believe that time is now as I can’t see them beating the Mavs in this seven game series.

The only way I see the Spurs gaining an edge in this series is if Richard Jefferson and Manu Ginobili start to dominate in the next couple of games. When these two players get hot, the Spurs are extremely tough team to beat and that was obvious in game two.

Ultimately though, the Dallas Mavericks will advance as the Spurs will not be able to contain the Mavs multiple weapons on offense.

NBA Playoff Previews – Western Conference


Staff Writer: Jeremiah Ira Yap


LA Lakers vs (8) Oklahoma City

Tough match-up for the Lakers. Oklahoma City’s talented young core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green will wreck havoc on the Lakers’ currently confused defense. There are two things intriguing about this series: Kobe Bryant, the Lakers best player, can be slowed down by the Thunders best defender, Thabo Sefolosha. Sefolosha has the right length to bother Kobe’s jumpers and the right speed to stay in front of him. I can hear Lakers fans saying, “Stopping Kobe in the playoffs? No way!”. Well, this isn’t 2006 Kobe where he was at his physical peak. Remember 2008? 2008 MVP Kobe was stopped by the Boston Celtics in the Finals, so there. Ha! Kobe was held to 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting against the Thunder in the last time these two teams played against each other.

Kevin Durant, the Thunders best player, cannot be contained by the Lakers’ best defender, Ron Artest. Durant has averaged 25 points against the Lakers. Although I’m still giving Artest the benefit of a doubt that he can still shut down one of the league’s best scorers. For all we know Artest may be channeling his inner Dennis Rodman with the blonde ‘do he’s sporting

This series is dubbed as “Durant vs Kobe”, but the real key for the Lakers is Pau Gasol and for the Thunder it’s Russell Westbrook. Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka can’t guard Gasol. It’s up to the Lakers to keep feeding it to the 7-foot Spaniard in the post.

Phil Jackson’s reluctance to curb Derek Fisher’s minutes will be bad for the Lakers. Fisher can’t guard a stationary lamp post and Westbrook is one of the quickest players in the league. The Lakers medical team better give Fisher some goggles to protect his eyes from the dust Westbrook will be leaving in his path. Westbrook exploded against the Lakers in their last regular season game.

The Lakers will have their hands full and will need six down to the wire games to eliminate the Thunder.

Dallas Mavericks vs (7) San Antonio Spurs

The Mavs have the greatest chance of beating the Lakers. They are a complete team and versatile at every position. Their midseason acquisition of Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson have reaped nothing but benefits. On the other flip of the coin, San Antonio’s acquisition of Richard Jefferson has been highly disappointing. Jefferson has been unable to adjust accordingly to Coach Popovich’s system.

Some say never doubt the Spurs in the playoffs, but realistically, their window has already closed. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan have been nagged by injuries and have not played a decent game after the All-Star break. Manu Ginobili has played great the past month but his age (32) and mileage make it hard to believe that he’s ready to take a lot of contact in the playoffs.

Dirk Nowitzki may have a tougher than expected series against the defense of Jefferson. Caron Butler and Jason Terry are the keys for the Mavs.

Dajuan Blair will have a big series for the Spurs, but Duncan and Parker need additional support from George Hill and Antonio McDyess. Don’t be surprised if the Mavericks win the series in five games. Stick a fork in the Spurs, they are done. It’s time to rebuild.

Phoenix Suns vs (6) Portland Trail Blazers

It’s a shame that Brandon Roy’s injury will greatly diminish the Blazers chances to advance to the second round. His presence would’ve made this an exciting series. Instead, we’ll see the Suns run Portland out the gym.

The Blazers don’t have the depth to keep up with the Suns up-and-down game. The return of Leandro Barbosa and Jason Richardson’s great play recently couldn’t come at a better time. The Blazers success will depend heavily on veterans Andre Miller and Marcus Camby, but their old legs will not be enough to outlast the Suns. Suns in five game.

Denver Nuggets vs (5) Utah Jazz

Carmelo Anthony must’ve been smiling on his way to the court for Game 1 against the Jazz. There was no one capable of guarding him after Andrei Kirilenko re-injured his calf strain. Anthony faced a combination of Kyle Korver, CJ Miles and Wesley Matthews and proceeded to drop 42 on the Jazz. The Jazz also had no answer for JR Smith, who scored 18 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter. The Nuggets can heat up in a heartbeat and the Jazz found that out in Game 1.

Aside from losing Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur left the second quarter of Game 1 after re-injuring his Achilles’. Even if the Jazz lost to the Nuggets, I still believe this will be a long series. The Jazz have a better coach in Jerry Sloan. He will make the necessary adjustments for Utah. Unlike with the Nuggets, who will miss George Karl sooner rather than later.

Interesting series. The Jazz will come back to win in six games. Carmelo Anthony may be the best player in the series, but Smith’s streak shooting and inconsistency will be detrimental for the Nuggets.