Saturday , Apr , 18 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Western Conference Preview: How Los Angeles, Denver, San Antonio, and Portland succeeds in the playoffs?

Throw out the fat felt you used to mark the days until the postseason on your calendar -unless you ‘enjoy’ the smell. Stop watching Kevin Garnett shouting ‘anything is possible’ on youtube. And forget the meaningless end of season games between the Clippers and Warriors.
Like I said, the playoffs are here. Every game matters. Heck, every shot, possession, and second matters. All 16 teams are playing for keeps and, of course, the Lawrence O’Brien trophy …

Western Conference Preview: How Los Angeles, Denver, San Antonio, and Portland succeeds in the playoffs?Today is April 18th. The wait is over. And the playoffs are here. 

Throw out the fat felt you used to mark the days until the postseason on your calendar –unless you ‘enjoy’ the smell. Stop watching Kevin Garnett shouting ‘anything is possible’ on youtube. And forget the meaningless end of season games between the Clippers and Warriors.

Like I said, the playoffs are here. Every game matters. Heck, every shot, possession, and second matters. All 16 teams are playing for keeps and, of course, the Lawrence O’Brien trophy.

With that in mind, let’s finish our quick-hit playoff previews. Today, HoopsVibe The Blog is looking at the top four seeds in the Western Conference. As always, read the post, form an opinion, and get at us with thoughts in the comment box below.

1) Los Angeles … 

Realistic Goal: NBA Title.

Keys: The Lakers are the NBA’s have franchise. They have an elite player, All-Star calibre co-stars, solid role players, a deep bench, and dedicated fans. They even have a rock star coach, who is bigger than most players.

Do they have the toughness, though?

In last year’s NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics won their seventeenth banner by bullying Kobe and company. However, this season, lockdown defender Trevor Ariza has a bigger role and his grit could be the difference.

2) Denver … 

Realistic Goal: Win a round or two. 

Keys: A little chemistry can go a long, long way. The Nuggets, after swapping shot-first Allen Iverson for pass-first Chauncey Billups in a November trade, are far more functional.

But Denver goes from functional to scary if three things happen. First, Billups rediscovers his old playoff form and becomes the clutch Mr. Big Shot. Second, their committee of undersized posts continues rebounding and defending. And finally, Carmelo Anthony elevates his game and becomes the superstar we expected. 

3) San Antonio … 

Realistic Goal: NBA Title.

Keys: In 1836, Mexican President Antonio de Lopez Santa Anna underestimated a group of determined settlers and invaded Texas. Despite being undermanned, the settlers fought bravely at the historic battle known as The Alamo.

NBA teams would be wise not to pull a Santa Anna and sleep on the Spurs. Sure, The Big Three is now The Big Two. And sure, age is a factor. So what?

But Gregg Popovich’s crew will compensate for Manu Ginobili’s injury by being extra sharp on defense. Hall of Fame post Tim Duncan and Tony Parker will handle most of the scoring, but look for Roger ‘Big Shot Rog’ Mason to become the third wheel on offense.

#4) Portland …

Realistic Goal: Win a round or two, scare everybody, and establish themselves as the NBA’s team of the future.

Keys: Once upon a time, in the early nineties, the Cavaliers were dubbed the NBA’s next great team. They had Craig Ehlo, Ron Harper, Larry Nance, Mark Price and John Williams. They were full of promise.

One shot killed that promise. And it took drafting LeBron James to restore hope.

 

The young Blazers have taken a giant step this year, winning over 50 games and getting back to the playoffs. And they’ve done it by being a team. With Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, they have the talent to beat almost anybody.

They need to gain experience for the future, and, most importantly, must avoid a franchise-wrecking disaster like Jordan over Ehlo.

 What are the keys to L.A., Denver, San Antonio, and Portland succeeding in the playoffs? Get at us in the comment box below and come back to HoopsVibe The Blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of RMTip21.