2010 NBA Playoffs: Western Conference First Round Preview and Prediction

While there was a playoff spot open in the Eastern Conference going into the final game of the season, all the postseason slots in the Western Conference had been filled. The only thing known going into the final game of the season was the No. 1 vs No. 8 matchup.

What was up for grabs were the No. 2 through 7 seeds on the last day of the season. All the matchups are now set and there are some interesting first round series.

The amazing thing about the Western Conference playoff teams is that every team won at least 50 games this season. Only seven games separated the No. 1 seed from the No. 8 seed.

All the Western Conference teams won 50 games in 2008 as well. The only problem was that none of them won the NBA title; it was won by the Boston Celtics that year.

Here is the Western Conference preview and prediction for the first round of the playoffs. Previously published was the Eastern Conference preview and predictions, so be sure to check that out if you have not.



No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 8 Oklahoma City Thunder  

Los Angeles has stumbled and sputtered into the playoffs this year. The Lakers are 4-6 in their last 10 games and have not looked like dominant team late this season.

Phil Jackson has already started to poke at the officials and the Lakers' first round opponent. Kobe Bryant has looked worn out and has been injured for parts of this season.

While most experts think the Lakers are the team to beat in the West, they look very beatable at times. Los Angeles looked the same way last season at times, but turned it up a notch on their march to the title.

Much like Cleveland in the East, one thing to watch this postseason is if Kobe gets help from the bench and role players. If Bryant has to carry this team from the first quarter to the fourth, he may start to wear down over a long playoff grind.

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Lakers