Friday , Apr , 20 , 2007 Oly Sandor

You vote on the Western Conference Winners, Head-to-Head

The Western Conference playoffs start with one game on Saturday and three games on Sunday. What teams will advance? Everybody knows the West is best. I like Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Houston. Read another of our Head-to-Head series, Western Conference playoff preview. Pick your first round winners and vote in the comment box below.

{{Head-to-Head:}} The regular season is over. This means the playoffs have arrived. Sixteen teams qualified for the NBA’s second season. In two months, only one team will be standing.

There’s nothing better than a Sunday triple-header of playoff basketball. So get ready NBA fans. Below is your Western Conference playoff preview.

Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Houston are my picks. What do you think? Read on and weigh in with your opinion. Enter your picks in the comment box below and we will tally up the results.

{{Dallas (1) versus Golden State (8)}}

The Mavericks are the NBA’s best team, posting an impressive 67-15 record. Their recipe for success is simple: play great defense and surround your one superstar, Dirk Nowitzki, with a deep team.

Home-court advantage, for the entire playoffs, will be a huge help.

The Warriors have been playing outstanding basketball, winning 16 of their final 21 games to clinch the final spot in the post season. This team’s often called a poor-man’s Phoenix Suns because they love to run and push the rock.

{{Worth Watching:}}
(1) Don Nelson faces his old team, the Dallas Mavericks. Hard feelings exist between ‘Nellie’ and Mark Cuban, the Mavericks’ owner, over how the coach left Dallas. (2) Can the Warriors force the Mavericks into playing an up-tempo style?

{{ Prediction:}} Dallas wins in six games. The Mavericks are too talented for the Warriors. But this series will be closer than most expect.

Phoenix (2) versus Los Angeles (7)

The Suns are better than last year. Amare Stoudemire is healthy and playing solid defense. Kurt Thomas is also back from injury, giving the Suns another low post defender. Phoenix already boasts a powerful line-up with Steve Nash, Shawn Marion, Boris Diaw, Raja Bell, and Amare Stoudemire.

The Lakers are worse than last year. They’ve battled injuries. They’ve battled chemistry issues. And they’ve struggled at point guard. With the exception of Kobe Bryant, the entire team has struggled to play consistently. Phil Jackson better use his Zen/Chi to help the Lakers find their ‘A’ game or this thing is over in a hurry.

Worth Watching: Kobe versus Raja, of course. These two have a healthy dislike for each other.

Prediction:
The Suns will win in six games. Los Angeles is a decent team, but their season hit a snag when Luke Walton and Lamar Odom went down with injuries.

San Antonio (3) versus Denver (6)

No doubt about it, the Spurs have been slept on. They could be the best team in basketball. Consider their 35-11 record since January 3rd.

The Spurs also play great defense. And great defense, as we know, wins NBA Titles. Look for San Antonio’s big three, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, to get off in this series.

The Nuggets clicked towards the end of the season, winning 8 of 9 games to clinch the sixth seed in the Western Conference. Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony have found their niche as a duo.

But Denver, even with Marcus Camby manning the middle, doesn’t play enough defense to make a playoff run.

Worth Watching: (1) The showdown between Tony Parker and Allen Iverson, two of the league’s quickest players. (2) In the past, Denver’s fans and coaching staff have complained about Ginobili’s flopping. Will the Argentine continue to pull a Vlade Divac and flop?

Prediction: The Spurs will win in six games. San Antonio could go all the way, while Denver has much to prove.

Houston (4) versus Utah (5)

This year, the Rockets will breakthrough and win their opening round series against Utah. Why? Well, Houston finally has a team to play next to superstars Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. Shane Battier, also known as Horace Grant part 2, leads the supporting cast. Rafer Alston, Dikembe Mutombo, Chucky Hayes, and Luther Head have all contributed to Houston’s success. The Rockets are also well-coached, disciplined, and have home-court advantage.

Utah struggled down the stretch, losing 7 of their last 11 games. This tailspin cost the Jazz home-court advantage in their series against Rockets. It even prompted Larry Miller, the team’s controversial owner, to tell the media that the “Jazz suck.”

Okay, the Jazz don’t suck. If they find their early season form, Utah could win the series. But Andrei Kirilenko must start producing.

Worth Watching: Will Tracy McGrady look for his own shot or facilitate for others?

Prediction: The Rockets will win in seven games.

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