Monday, April 30, 2012


San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz
SEASON SERIES: Spurs won 3-1
ANALYSIS: The San Antonio Spurs are once again the West’s top seed, but they are vowing not to be on the wrong side of another monumental 1/8 upset like last season. Gregg Popovich continued to manage Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker’s minutes, while giving younger players much valuable playing time. Despite only averaging 32.1 minutes, Parker scored 18.3 points per game and average 7.7 assists.

The Utah Jazz make it back to the playoffs after a one-year absence after making an effective playoff push. Utah finished No. 4 in scoring with 99.7 points per game and part of that is due to their ability to score inside. Al Jefferson scored 19.2 points and had 9.6 rebounds per game this season and Paul Millsap added 16.6 PPG and 8.8 RPG. What could hurt the Jazz is their defense as they allow 99.0 points per game—No. 23 in the NBA. 
PREDICTION: Spurs in 5

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Dallas Mavericks
SEASON SERIES: Thunder won 3-1
ANALYSIS: The Oklahoma City Thunder might be the No. 2 seed in the West, but they are the arguably the conference’s favorites to make it to the NBA Finals. In two bonafide superstars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder are one of the more exciting teams in the NBA. Durant won his third straight scoring title with 28.0 points per game and is considered to be in the MVP race.

The Dallas Mavericks looked like a shell of their former selves this season, but as they showed last year that when they get it together, they can win. The defending champions overcame rest, injuries and controversy to sneak into the playoffs as a dangerous No. 7 seed. Dirk Nowitzki put together another good season with 21.6 PPG and 6.8 REB. 
PREDICTION: Mavericks in 6.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets
SEASON SERIES: Lakers won 3-1
ANALYSIS: The Los Angeles Lakers started slow of the gate, but bounced back to take the Pacific Division crown over their city rivals, the Clippers. While Kobe Bryant continues to show why he is one of the best players in the NBA, the play of Andrew Bynum—for the most part—has been impressive. Bynum averaged 18.7 points and 11.7 rebounds for the Lakers this year and showed that he can be a good center in the NBA.

The Denver Nuggets are a deep and an explosive team as shown by their ability to score. Denver was tops in scoring average with 104.1 points per game and seven different players averaged at least 10 PPG, including midseason acquisition JaVale McGee. Rookie Kenneth Faried had a great showing in his first year, averaging 11.1 points and 8.3 rebounds after taking the starting power forward position for good on Feb. 19.
PREDICTION: Lakers in 7.

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Clippers
SEASON SERIES: Clippers won 2-1
ANALYSIS: After a strong playoff showing last year, the Memphis Grizzlies are back and better than ever this season by securing the No. 4 seed and homecourt advantage for at least one round in this year’s playoffs. Unable to play in last year’s run, Rudy Gay is back as he led the team with 19.0 points per game. The Grizzlies’ strong inside with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol will make for a tough out in the playoffs.

The Los Angeles Clippers are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2006 after the best season in franchise history. Having Chris Paul gave the Clippers excitement, hope and leadership. With his 19.8 points and 9.1 assists per game, he made everyone around him better. Blake Griffin was a good beneficiary to Paul joining the Clippers by scoring 20.7 points and having 10.7 rebounds per game along with many thunderous dunks.
PREDICTION: Grizzlies in 7.

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