Here is a look into every single Western Conference round one matchup.
Photo Credit: NBC
Warriors vs Clippers
The Warriors are going to win the series, the question is how quickly. The Clippers are a scrappy team and deserve a lot of credit. Montrez Harrell has been one of the most improved players in the NBA over the past 2 seasons. The Warriors have won 3 out of 4 meetings this year, with the lone loss coming in November with Steph Curry out. The Warriors will be able to spread the Clippers out and draw mismatches on many of the Clippers bigs. Warriors should sweep with a small chance the Clippers take a game at home.
Prediction: Warriors 4-0
Rockets vs Jazz
The Jazz won the first two matchups of the season, but the Rockets have won the two most recent. James Harden has been on another level and Clint Capela being back is a huge help defensively. The Jazz are a team that can cause the Rockets problems because of the way Rudy Gobert can shut down the center of the lane. The Jazz have the best defense in the West but will need to keep the pace slow to stop the Rockets. Houston should move on, but it won’t be easy. Chris Paul will need to play a big factor in this series to take the pressure off James Harden. The Rockets small ball lineup could be the difference maker with PJ Tucker drawing Rudy Gobert out of the lane. The Jazz will definitely win one at home and if they can get both and force it to 6 games, it will weaken the Rockets a lot when they face a resting Warriors in the next round. The Rockets need to get this series done quickly and they know it.
Prediction: Rockets 4-1
Nuggets vs Spurs
Most would peg this as the least exciting series with only one true superstar Jokic (who is often overlooked). This will actually be one of two exciting series in the first round I believe. Both teams are PHENOMENAL at home. Nuggets went 34-7 and the Spurs went 32-9 at home. Despite amazing records, both actually had losing records on the road. I doubt a team will win a road game. The Nuggets are similar to the 2013 Atlanta Hawks, lots of depth but the lack of an outside superstar might make them easy to stop for a well-coached team to clog the paint. My guess is it goes seven with no road team ever winning. People might think it’s not that big but think about it this way a 20-21 Nuggets team will play a 32-9 Spurs team in San Antonio and a 16-25 Spurs team will face a 34-7 team when in Denver.
Prediction: Nuggets 4-3.
Thunder vs Trail Blazers
This is the second of those two exciting series. I will cover the East in the next article, but no series will live up to these two series. The Thunder-Blazers series will feature two of the games best guards Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook. Lillard will have the edge, but Westbrooks teammate is better with Paul George length and playoff experience giving him an edge over CJ McCullom. George will be the best player on the floor, but not the most important. Steven Adams will be able to take advantage of a weak Blazers front-court and could have a massive impact on the series. He will dominate the paint and boards, causing huge issues for the Blazers. Thunder won the regular series meetings 4-0, it will be closer than that, but the Thunder will take the win anyway.
Prediction: Thunder 4-2