A Look at the Western Conference

San Antonio Spurs – So much for the Spurs getting old and their window closing. Yet again Parker, Ginobili, Duncan and company find themselves atop the Western Conference. Other than their big three, the Spurs are arguably younger and deeper than ever. They’ve had 5 straight years of tough losses in the playoffs. Will this be their year? I’m going to go out on a limb and say they’re hoping Memphis falls a spot as it’s a bad matchup for them.

Oklahoma City Thunder – No Harden no problem. Durant and Ibaka took big leaps forward this season and Kevin Martin has fit into the 6th man role flawlessly. With the largest point differential in the league at + 9.1, it looks like the Thunder successfully improved their long-term outlook without sacrificing in the short term, giving them a good chance for a finals rematch against the Heat.

Los Angeles Clippers – No doubt about it, the Clippers are the best team in LA. The only rough patch of the season came when Chris Paul went down for a few games. Griffin and Jordan have both improved significantly over last year and the bench has been amazing with Barnes, Bledsoe and Crawford all playing above expectations. Now that Grant Hill and Chauncey Billups are back, this team goes 12 deep.

Memphis Grizzlies – Looks like the hangover from losing Rudy Gay didn’t last too long. Seven wins in a row for a sneaky good team. Prince has fit in well for them, adding more defense and consistent shooting than Gay was providing. Let’s not forget the huge frontline of Randolph and Gasol is a matchup nightmare for most teams. Continue reading

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Western Conference Preview

Western Conference Preview

Oklahoma City Thunder – I do not like the Harden trade for this season. The Thunder might be better in the long run, but when you are so close to a title, why mess with it? Kevin Martin can flat out score, but he couldn’t guard me. That’s going to be a problem in the playoffs. His scoring will get them a lot of wins in the regular season though.

Los Angeles Lakers – It always works out for the Lakers. They were able to turn Bynum into Dwight Howard AND add Steve Nash. A Nash, Bryant, Peace, Gasol, Howard starting lineup is as good as it gets. Their bench is pretty terrible, but once the playoffs start and the starters play extended minutes, it won’t matter as much. The window for this unit to win is fairly small since 4 out of 5 of the starters are nearing the end of their careers, but they are on the short list of contenders this year.

San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs are one of the two teams in the conference (league?) that are two deep at every position. That means less minutes for Duncan and Ginobili which in theory will preserve them for the playoffs. This team should take a look at the standings near the end of the season and “adjust” their lineup to try and avoid a 1st round matchup against the Grizzlies. Continue reading