Written by: Sam Grunther (@smg3095)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
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In recent years, the Western Conference has dominated the Eastern Conference in the NBA. The West has had more good teams than the East for some time, especially this year. The 7th seed Spurs would be the 3rd seed in the East. The 9th seed Pelicans who wont make the playoffs in the West, would be the 6th seed in the East. The Western Conference is so competitive and no game is an easy win because every team is strong.
In reality, all 8 teams that will make the playoffs in the West would probably have a good chance to win the East, but will lose and be a “pretender” in the West. It should be a crazy high level of basketball and ultra competitive run to the Western Conference championship. There are many capable teams, but some are real contenders while others are pretenders.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors will mostly likely enter the playoffs as the first seed. Although the 8th seed, who ever it is, will be no easy match up, the Warriors have home court. Oracle Arena could be home to one of the rowdiest crowds in sports and with the Splash brothers heating up in the playoffs, the fans will be extra excited. It is going to be extremely hard for any team to play Golden State in a seven game series with them having home court. If Klay Thompson comes back strong as expected, look for MVP candidate Steph Curry and Thompson to lead the Warriors with a deep playoff run. VERDICT-CONTENDER
The Grizzlies have had a great year so far. They currently sit at the number two seed in the West with a record of 47-21. However, they have been trending down recently and in the ultra competitive West, you have to stay consistent. They have had many bad losses to sub .500 teams in the last month and have been giving up more points defensively. If Memphis can’t be the #1 defensive team in the league, they can’t win the West, because at some point you’re going to need an offense with a lot of firepower. While the Grizzlies have had a great year, it would be far from shocking to see them go out in the first round. VERDICT- PRETENDER
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clips have had a roller coaster ride of a season. My pre-season pick to win the West has definitely had its ups and its downs. With Blake Griffin coming back, I think things are going to start to change and there will be more consistency. DeAndre Jordan has shown that he can be a dominant big man when utilized the right way. That is something not many teams are going to have. CP3 has been over looked in having another great season and I think it will continue in the post season. Look for Doc to coach up and to get players like Spencer Hawes and J.J. Reddick to play past expectations like he has for so many other players come the post season. VERDICT- CONTENDER
The Blazers are a team many people love. They are filled with energy and led by a flashy young point guard in Damian Lillard. They currently sit at the #4 seed, although that can very easily change in the coming weeks. The Blazers were a very trendy pick but I don’t see them making a deep run or winning the West. The injury to Wesley Matthews was a crucial blow and it will show in the playoffs, although not many people are talking about it now. I don’t see the guard and wing depth that other teams have and that will end up being their downfall. VERDICT- PRETENDER
The Mavs are currently tied for the 5th seed and could realistically move all the way up to the #2 seed, or all the way down to the 8th spot. The Mavs made some major moves in hopes to get Dirk another shot at a title in the off-season and at trade deadline. I think people forget how good Rajon Rondo is at playoff time. In this point guard dominated league, Rondo has been one of the best post-season defenders in terms of point guards the league has seen. The Mavs took the reigning champs, San Antonio Spurs, to seven games and their toughest series last season. Expect the Mavs to make a run with one of the most under appreciated stars in Dirk Nowitzki, and one of the most underrated coaches in Rick Carlisle. VERDICT- CONTENDER