Staff Writer: Ryan Ward
There are only four teams left standing in the NBA playoffs and all four of these teams have their eyes set solely on the NBA finals and an NBA title.
The Eastern Conference finals might have the most intriguing matchup with the offensive minded Orlando Magic going up against the defensive beast in the Boston Celtics, but the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers have a lot of history over the past few years in the playoffs and will almost certainly be an all-out battle to see you can advance to the NBA Finals.
Obviously, coming into this series the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers are favored to come out on top, but the Suns have that run and gun offense and arguably one of the best point guards in the league in Steve Nash who could cause many problems for Kobe Bryant and company during the West finals.
The one position that the Los Angeles Lakers have had trouble guarding all season long and throughout these playoffs has been in the backcourt at point guard. In the first round of the playoffs, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder drove the Lakers crazy as he just drove to the basket at will and was able to make plays throughout that series. Fortunately, the Lakers were still able to advance as they came on strong late in the series, but Westbrook did leave an impression and showed that the Lakers have a weakness in the backcourt.
Problems continued in the second round of the playoffs for the Lakers, even though they swept the Utah Jazz 4-0, with Deron Williams basically doing the same thing that Russell Westbrook did in the first round. Obviously, Williams wasn’t able to impose his will as much as Westbrook was and the Lakers moved on with relative ease, but Derrick Fisher, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown have struggled against good point guards and will have their work cut out for them in Steve Nash in the Western Conference finals.
Ultimately, I really can’t see the Phoenix Suns competing with the Lakers length and size inside the paint as Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and most notably Pau Gasol will be just too much for them handle. Along with those three dominant big men in the paint, Kobe Bryant will also be a handful for the Suns as he is starting to come back to form and is looking more and more healthy with every passing game.
This series could go the distance and last seven games, but in my opinion it will be over in six the Lakers advancing to the third straight NBA finals competing for the second consecutive NBA title.
No matter what does happen in this series though, even if Steve Nash and company to give the defending champs run for their money, I believe nothing will stop Kobe Bryant’s charge for a fifth NBA title is no team left in the playoffs can compete with this team who are one as resilient as any team in the league.
Series Prediction: Los Angeles Lakers 4-2