Western Conference Playoff Preview

The final days of the NBA regular season and a look ahead to potential first round matchups

4/12/13 in NBA   |   droth   |   127 respect

Warriors fans desperately want to avoid playing the Spurs but this is a matchup that I think could actually be pretty interesting. As we've seen so many times in college basketball, an underdog that can shoot is always a threat. The series format of the NBA playoffs tends to eliminate the possibility that a streaky underdog will win, but the Warriors shooting isn't actually streaky - it's just plain good. The three ball is a huge part of Golden State's game and that Feb 19, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson (11) shoots while defended by Utah Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward (20) during the first half at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sportsallows them to be a threat no matter who they are playing. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson constantly run off screens and nail jumpers. They make opposing guards work and when they get free they're lights out.  

This season, Curry and Thompson combined for more three pointers than any backcourt combination in NBA history. It will be interesting to see if Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili can perform at their usual high level when they're exerting so much energy trying to chase the Warriors guards all over the court. And with Andrew Bogut's ankle injury apparently not serious and question marks surrounding Ginobili's health, this series could be a lot closer than many people think.

A Denver-Houston matchup would be wonderful television and I pray that it doesn't get pushed to NBA TV and poor time slots simply because of other marquee teams squaring off.  The two teams have a total of one superstar (James Harden) but I can't think of a first-round series that would be as fun to watch.  

Denver and Houston rank fifth and sixth respectively in OffRtg which tells us something that we already know: they score a lot.  Harden is a monster in transition, getting to the free throw line more than anyone in the league this year.  The Nuggets are up-tempo and love to use their high-altitude advantage to run teams out of the building and I hope we get the chance to see them try to outrun James and his boys.

The best individual matchup in the first round might be between Omer Asik and Kenneth Faried, two of the hardest working big guys in basketball. They are going to kill each other on the block going for rebounds and their individual battles will be just as exciting as the full-court sprints that we'll see from both squads.   Another reason I want to see these two teams face off is that it would make for a much better matchup than Spurs-Rockets. With the Rockets' reliance on James Harden acting as a one-man fast break, you could see 'Pop" really narrowing his focus on stopping Harden and simply shutting down the Rockets attack and slowing the game down.

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