NBA Western Conference Playoff Preview: Not an Easy Path for LA Lakers

Here are some early predictions for the Western Conference playoffs. I anticipate some very good series, even in the first round. The Lakers are once again a great team with some very good players, but the rest of the West has gotten better also, and they may not find it so easy to make it the Finals.

Dallas, Denver, and Portland have all added significant pieces, while Utah and Phoenix have been playing better, and Oklahoma City’s young roster keeps getting better.


No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 8 San Antonio Spurs


The Spurs are currently the No. 7 seed in the West, one-half game ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers. With the injury to Tony Parker and the rests that Tim Duncan will probably receive, I think they will probably fall to No. 8 before the playoffs begin.

The Spurs will be the first challenge for the Lakers in the playoffs and may actually compete. Parker should be healthy by then, there are many playoff-hardened veterans, to go along with solid young players, on the roster, and their defense is tough.

In the end, however, the Spurs will be outgunned by the defending champs. With the the matchup problems Lamar Odom will present, the skill of big-men Gasol and Andrew Bynum, and the fact that Kobe is Kobe and the Lakers are the Lakers, the Spurs will make a first round exit. I could easily see a 4-1 victory for the Lakers.


Prediction: Lakers 4-2


No. 4 Utah Jazz vs. No. 5 Phoenix Suns


A matchup of opposites here: The run-n-gun Suns take on the grind it out, physically defensive Jazz. Also, a showdown between two of the best point guards Steve Nash, and Deron Williams, along with two of the best second-tier power forwards in Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer.

Utah may have to make some adjustments to match the Suns style, but whe...

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