Monday, April 17, 2017
THE 2016-2017 NBA regular season has ended and the playoff picture has taken shape, in relation to the Western Conference qualifiers. Golden State and San Antonio have been consistent all throughout, but the same can’t be said of their top seeded counterparts from the other conference.
As expected, Golden State topped the race followed by the San Antonio, Houston, LA Clippers, Utah, OKC, Memphis and Portland. Here’s my forecast.
Warriors vs Blazers – There’s no holding back Golden State with the timely return of Kevin Durant. The post season is a crucial time for adjustment but this is just a tiny problem for coach Steve Kerr. Portland size-wise can match up with GSW but talent is wanting. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum must step up as well as big man Jusuf Nurkic with the absence of other bigs Festus Ezeli and Ed Davis to injury. It’s GSW over Portland in five games.
San Antonio vs Memphis – It’s gonna be war for the Gasol brothers, Pau and Marc. But Pau has the better edge as there are other bigs with the Spurs that can clog and score in the middle – LaMarcus Aldridge, Dewayne Dedmon and David Lee. Backcourt is loaded with scoring guards Tony Parker, Danny Green and Manu Ginobili. They all complement the team’s top performer Kawhi Leonard. The Grizzlies have a volume scorer in Mike Conley but he lacks support. Zach Randolph and Vince Carter had seen better days and Chandler Parsons is not known for consistency. The Spurs will sweep the Griz.
Houston vs OKC – A battle between MVP contenders but victory tilts towards the Rockets’ direction as James Harden has ample support. At any given time, the Beard’s crew of Lou Williams, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, Clint Capella, Ryan Anderson and Patrick Beverly can deliver the points. Records don’t matter in the post season and Russell Westbrook needs to do more for OKC to advance. Bigs Steven Adams, Enes Kanter and rookie Domantas Sabonis are serviceable but more production must come from Victor Oladipo, Andre Roberson and Taj Gibson. Houston in six games.
LA Clippers vs Utah – The Clips have their Big 3 in DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul and average a combined 53.4 points per game. Three other players submit double figures in scoring butthey lack another efficient big man to compliment DeAndre. The Jazz are having health problems at the wrong time. Top man Gordon Hayward has leg issues as well as PF Derrick Favors and SG Rodney Hood. Man in the middle Rudy Gobert has improved and is a good defender and rebounder. The French Rejection will matchup to DeAndre with his 3 blocks and 13 rebounds per game. Gobert could be this year’s defensive Player of the Year. Clippers in five games.
These are my personal projections and there’s a strong chance things will go otherwise. Still the Warriors are the top picks to win the WC title but San Antonio can very well make it. Next column, the Eastern contenders.
PLAYOFF TRIVIA – 2007 was GSW’s first post-season appearance in 13 years and they were seeded 8th. They upset No.1 seed Dallas and reigning league MVP Dirk Nowitzki in Game 6 behind the sweet shooting of Stephen Jackson and Baron Davis. Steph Curry at that time was still on his second year at Davidson College. I highly doubt if Portland can do an upset, unless GSW’s top five players suddenly goes pffft!/PN