REDCHAIR; Sports Editor
West (Predicted December 2011)/ Actual
1) Thunder – Spurs 50-16
2) Mavericks – Thunder 47-19
3) Spurs – Lakers 41-25
4) Clippers – Grizzlies 41-25
5) Lakers – Clippers 40-26
6) Grizzlies – Nuggets 38-28
7) Blazers – Mavericks 36-30
8) Warriors – Jazz 36-30
(Finals: Heat & Thunder. Heat win in 6)
Although I wasn’t as successful as with the western conference I still think I did pretty well. The Clippers were the ones who splashed in the offseason with Paul and Billups but no one was sure how well they’d do. I had them at #4 and they’re really only two games away from being that. If Billups didn’t get hurt they could have possibly been a #3 which would have helped them this year in my opinion. Jazz barely squeaked in. They have young talent but they’re not ready.
1 Spurs vs. 8 Jazz – As I just stated the Jazz have young talent and the Spurs have older talent with some younger parts off the bench. Spurs somehow managed to tie for the best record in the NBA. Personally the Spurs bore me. I will not watch this series and unless the Jazz get lucky or Manu breaks something again the Spurs will advance.
2. Thunder vs. 7 Mavericks – The Thunder have a very similar roster as last season where the Mavericks seem a lot different. Mavericks lost two key guys like Chandler and J.J. Barea that helped a lot last season. The Mavericks got by because of Dirk’s big time shots. Age has really gotten to this team. Dropping from one of the top seeds all the way to #7 has showed this. They need to learn from the Spurs coach how to maintain. Thunder are just too good with Durant and Westbrook. These guys won’t be stopped in this series. Thunder also will feel like they have something to prove since the Mavericks are who beat them last year.
3. Lakers vs. 6 Nuggets – Somehow the Nuggets win games without having any big elite players. They are just a good solid team. That’s about all I can say about them. I like Afflalo but Lakers adding Sessions and Kobe keeping himself healthy and rested for the playoffs is all the Lakers need with the duo of bigs they have. Lakers will advance and Kobe will hit big shots anytime he needs to.
4. Grizzlies vs. 5 Clippers – This could be a fun series to watch. I like the guys on both teams. I think “Lob City” is going to be in trouble when they have to slow down and run sets. I think Paul can carry the team at times but Billups needed to be there for big shot for them to go deeper. I like the Grizzlies and I think they showed a lot of people how good they were last year without their best player in Rudy Gay. I think the Grizzlies advance in a lot of close games.
1 Spurs vs. 4 Grizzlies – Upset alert! Rankings wise this is really the only upset I have for your guys. The Spurs are good and have depth but in the playoffs the key players play more minutes and I feel like the Spurs will wear down. I also think this is the year that Mark Gasol shows he’s now the better Gasol brother in the NBA. He will be huge. I think Randolph will be back in shape after his injury enough to contribute. Gay will have a great series and Conley and Mayo will continue to do their thing and win games.
2 Thunder vs. 3 Lakers – This shit just got personal. Metta World Peace will be back after his suspension and hopefully Harden will be back to playing 100% after suffering a concussion. You have the top two scorers in the league going at it. Ibaka and Perkins are going to have to have a good defensive series against Gasol and Bynum. Before the Lakers traded for Sessions I figured the point guard position would be the downfall for the Lakers. He is a great improvement over what they had. I think the Thunder are determined to be in the finals or the season will be a bust. The depth of the Thunder and youth will outlast the Lakers. Expect a game or two where Kobe & Durant get the chance for a last second shot.
2 Thunder vs. 4 Grizzlies – The funny thing is this was probably one of the hardest series for the Thunder last year. I think they competed with the Mavericks better but not being able to close games and Dirk hitting big shots is why they lose. The Thunder and Grizzlies match-up really well against one another. Now the Grizzlies have Rudy Gay this series and could be a huge upset here. I’m not going to say that though. I believe last season the biggest flaws of the Thunder was their half court offense and their maturity to close at the end of games. I think they have fixed these problems and with the addition of signing Fisher brings great experience and also allows Westbrook to play some SG for the entire playoffs. I would love to see when Thunder go small with Fisher, Westbrook, Harden, Durant, and Ibaka/Collison. I think this series will go 6 or 7 but the Thunder will come out victorious to face the Heat in the finals.