Western Conference–Second Round by guest blogger Alex

I was out buying a man yesterday at the LLS Bachelor and Bachelorette Auction and clearly too busy to post anything having to do with the NBA.  So, totally my bad.  Alex sent me this yesterday, so now I’m just making him look bad by posting old news.  But, thems the breaks when you’re working with me I suppose.  Then, Alex throws me a curveball and his images aren’t embedded and I actually have to reveal my luddite-ness as it takes me nearly 15 minutes to give you these out of proportion, misaligned images.  And, there you have it folks.  Happy Saturday, call your Mom tomorrow, and read the wonderful, wise and witty words of the man of many costumes, Alex Post.

Well the Celtics won last night, so I don’t have to talk about the Hawks anymore, which I really appreciate.  The Lakers did not win last night, however, so that leaves two first round series ongoing in the West, and thus uncertain semifinal match-ups.  I’ll speculate some anyway, and if I turn out to be wrong, I’ll just pretend I was making some “Dallas” it-was-all-a-dream reference in keeping with the dumb tv thing.  
Without further ado, the Western Conference:
Previously, on Spurs v. Jazz
I predicted the Spurs would win in 5 because I was too chicken to predict any team would sweep a first round series.
 
The Spurs were never in any danger.  I confess I only watched 3/4 of one of these games, and while Utah seemed to be playing well, they also seemed less poised, less experienced and not as good at basketball as San Antonio.  The highlight of the series didn’t even happen during the games; it was when Spurs coach Greg Popovich collected his Coach of the Year trophy and gave a tearful acceptance speech thanking his staff, his players, and the exiled geneticists in the American Virgin Islands who have been producing flawless Tim Duncan clones for the past decade.

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(Duncan003 emerges from the growth tank and meets his “father”)

 
Previously, on Grizzlies v. Clippers:
I favored Memphis because I thought the Clippers were too inexperienced.  Apparently I don’t read my own analysis because Chris Paul did what Chris Paul does: win basketball games in a manner so devastating that he traps the other team’s spirit in an Ecto-Containment unit.
 
The Clips are up 3-2 as I write this, and, assuming Griffin and Paul can play and play well tonight after getting banged up last game, and I expect them to, then I expect them to win and thus finish off the series in 6.  Zack Randolph has indeed looked shaky in his return to Memphis from injury, and Gay has not been the difference-maker they hoped he would be.  Meanwhile, Griffin played pretty well the first 3 games, without making a huge impact, but really stepped it up in Game 4.  CAVEAT: If the injuries sustained by Griffin and Paul (especially Paul) cause them to miss time or play hobbled, Memphis could and in fact should steal this series from Mo Williams, Randy Foye and the other non-Chris Paul Clippers.  If those guys are good to go though, LA should win.  And if Memphis just taught Griffin how to play playoff basketball, look out San Antonio.
 
Stay Tuned for: (1) SAN ANTONIO v. (5) Los Angeles Clippers (?) 
It will be interesting to watch the Spurs face their first true test of this post-season.  The team has had success all season with Coach of the Year Popovich (COYP) carefully monitoring and limiting the minutes of his best players; against the Jazz that practice continued, which allowed Duncan, Ginobli and Parker to shine in these first round games without getting over-extended.  What happens when Parker has to chase Chris Paul around, and Duncan has to fight Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan down low?  Actually, Duncan will probably still win out with his superior skill set and experience, like he did against Milsap and Jefferson, but the games will keep getting more and more competitive (trenchant analysis) and either the Spurs bench will have to continue to play outstanding, or the big 3 are going to have start playing more minutes, which could mean diminished effectiveness or, official theme of the 2012 playoffs, injury, brought to you by Lemon-Lime Gatorade Replacement Cartilage. 
 
Prediction: Spurs in 6
I probably should learn my lesson and never pick against Chris Paul again, but the Spurs are not the Grizzlies.  I can see Paul channeling the energy and enthusiasm of his teammates to win a couple games, but I think San Antonio has too much talent, poise, experience and coaching wherewithal to get bested by this fresh-out-the-box LA team.  Too bad if I’m right though, this Clips team is a blast to watch when they’re clicking.  Oh if its Memphis, still Spurs in 6.
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Previously, on Thunder v. Mavs:
I gave the defending champion Mavericks way too much respect for winning it all last year, and had them winning two games.  Instead they got swept.
 
This series only featured one team that wanted to win.  Durant, Westbrook and 2012 Mr. T Look-Alike Award Winner James Harden all played very well, but there were stretches during all 4 games where it seemed like they left the door wiiiide open for Dallas to steal a couple wins, and maybe even the series.  But Dirk and company collectively shrugged their shoulders and went back to perusing brochures for summer timeshares in the South of France.  The Thunder really have to find a more solid way to get to the rim and manufacture points when their jumpers aren’t falling, though.  Right now the plan seems to be to give James Harden the ball and hope he does something awesome, which, as a Harden fan, I find exciting, but I don’t know if it will be enough against the Lakers and Metta World Peace’s elbows.
 
Previously, on Lakers v. Denver:
My heart picked Denver in 7, but, in a M. Night Shyamalamian twist, I revealed at the end that I had the Lakers advancing the whole time.
Well it is all tied-up 3-3 as of this writing, so the jury is still out, but the nice thing about my pick(s) is I can claim I was right regardless of who actually wins out.   I also noted JaVale McGee might be a gamechanger for Denver and he certainly changed Game 5, with his 21 points and 14 rebounds.  Then again, LA’s Andrew Bynum also changed that game by stating beforehand that close-out games were “easy.”  The Nuggets, like any good reality show contestant, took that comment to heart, making Bynum eat his words, and also probably like 3 hamburgers.  Then the Lakers just fell apart from the jump in Game 6, which Kobe tried to turn into his own personal flu game, but like every Jordan impression of his, he fell short.  After the game Kobe called out his teammates for lacking passion and the ability to battle, and welcomed the return of Metta World Peace for Game 7, a man made of passion and battle-axes and psychosis. The way the Nuggets opened this series, I’m surprised they won a game, and yet they can win the series with a win in LA on Saturday.  They wont though.

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(In addition to not losing big games, Jordan also never shopped at Urban Outfitters)

 
Stay Tuned for: (2) OKC v. (3) Los Angeles Lakers (?)
This should be a great series.  The league’s scoring champ in Durant against the number 2 scorer in Kobe; two legit MVP candidates this season, a young, athletic scorer trying to figure it out and the wily veteran who has been there before and is trying to cement his legacy as one of the greatest ever.  And yes it makes me sick to my stomache to praise Kobe.  These teams split their regular season series, with LA memorably beating OKC in double-overtime a couple weeks ago (The Metta World Peace elbow game).  No one on Dallas seemed able (or in Dirk’s case maybe just willing) to put the Thunder away when the Thunder went cold at times.  The Lakers have that guy.
 
Prediction: Thunder in 7.
(Thunder in 5 if the Nuggets get through)  Kobe really looks like he’s going for it, and Bynum continues to shine like he did in the regular season…while also being inconsistent.  I anticipate some great contests with this match-up; and by that I mean epic scowl-offs between Bynum and the Thunder’s Kendrick Perkins (assuming his hip is ok).  Ultimately though, I see the Thunder stepping up and going to the Western Conference Finals, providing Kobe with a longer off-season to find a new wife to cheat on.
Enjoy the games!

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