After a surprise win in the play-in tournament, the Grizzlies became the last team in the West to make the playoffs. This makes for 4 exciting matchups in the West and we will predict how each of the first 4 series will turn out.
Jazz vs. Grizzlies : This will be an interesting matchup considering it includes a Grizzlies squad that is coming off of a thrilling OT win over a confident Golden State team on the road versus a strong Utah Jazz team that is ready to show fans why they are the number one seed. The defending NBA Rookie of the Year, Ja Morant has been nothing short of impressive so far this post-season, coming off an impressive stat-line of 35 pts, 6 rbs. and 6 assists entering this series, showing why he is one of the most impressive young point guards in the league. Another key player on this Grizzlies squad is Dillon Brooks, a talented young small forward who has shown he is a force to be reckoned with on defense, holding all-stars like Stephen Curry to 2-10 shots when defending him and holding San Antonio Spurs leading scorer to 20 points on 5-for-21 shooting in their win against them in the play-in tourney. In other words, it will be interesting to see what kind of effect Brooks can have on the stars on this Jazz team including their stellar shooting guard, Donovan Mitchell. Meanwhile, on this Jazz squad, you have a strong backcourt including the previously named, Donovan Mitchell, and Mike Conley, who now has to face the only other franchise he has ever known in the Memphis Grizzlies. Mitchell and Conley provide a great help to the offense averaging close to a combined 40 ppg and 4 rpg and 6 apg each. The Jazz also have a strong presence on the defensive end in the form of Rudy Gobert who averages close to 10.2 drpg, and 2.7 bpg. Overall, this will be an exciting series involving two teams with stellar guards and key defensive players, ending with the Jazz winning in 6 games.
Clippers vs. Mavs: This is one of the rare times that NBA fans get to see the same first round matchup two years in a row and it no doubt will be just as exciting this year as it was last. You have a hungry Clippers team that is determined to make up for losing their chance for a trip to the Western Conference Finals after blowing a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets versus a relatively young Mavericks team that is ready to show the world that they can make a deep playoff run. The Clippers two main all stars, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, are still putting up great numbers as they are both averaging about 23.0 ppg and 5.0 apg. They have also added some key pieces to help with their offense and defense including Rajon Rondo who is one of the best playmakers in the game and Demarcus Cousins who has always been known as a strong force on the court, adding more power to what was already a strong Clippers defense. Meanwhile, you have a Dallas Mavericks team headlined by a stellar young All-Star in Luka Doncic, first player in NBA history with 3 triple-doubles in his first 7 NBA Playoff games. He has a great supporting cast including two great 3-pt. shooters, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dorian Finney-Smith, who have 3-pt. Percentages of 55.6 and 80%. Luka also has an impressive back-up in Jalen Brunson who adds a decent stat-line of 15 ppg. and is always ready to step in and run the offense when Luka needs a break. Overall, these are two teams that are going to fight to win until the last possible minute, where the Clippers defense will prove to be the difference and they will defeat Luka and the Mavs in another sensational six game series.
Nuggets vs. Blazers : This is a matchup of two teams that always fight to win until the last possible minute. Last year, the Nuggets became the first team in NBA history over come to 3-1 deficits in the same playoffs. This year, this Nuggets team is determined to show that that wasn’t pure luck. The star of this Nuggets team is the current MVP candidate, Nikola Jokic, who is currently averaging close to a triple double with the stat line of 26.4 ppg, 10.8 rpg, and 8.3 apg. Nugget fans are also excited about the rise of small forward, Michael Porter Jr, who has stepped up after losing star guard Jamal Murray to injury, helping the offense with a solid stat line of 25.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg, and helping on the defensive end with 2 bpg. Meanwhile, you have a solid Blazers squad that wants to finally give their fans the playoff run they have been hoping for. The Blazers still have one of the strongest backcourts in the NBA in Damian Lillard and Cj McCollum, who are averaging a combined 55 ppg, 8 rpg, and 16 apg. Another key player on this Blazers squad is the veteran Power Forward, Carmelo Anthony who is showing people he still has what it takes to be an All-Star, including his performance in last nights win over Denver with a solid stat line of 18 pts and shooting 4-of-8 from the 3 pt. line. This will definitely be a battle between two of the hungriest teams in the league, ending with the Blazers winning in 6 games, claiming the first round victory that injuries played a heavy part in costing them last year.
Suns vs. Lakers: In this matchup you have the defending champions against a Suns team that is making the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2010, when they lost in the Western Conference Finals to the legend, Kobe Bryant, and the Los Angeles Lakers. Many people believed that the addition of Chris Paul was going to make a difference for this young Suns team and they were right. They went from being a team that narrowly missed the NBA Playoffs last year to being the second seed of a strong Western Conference. Devon Booker is still putting up a decent stat line of 25.6 ppg and 4.3 apg, while CP3 is averaging 16.4 ppg and 8.9 apg. Needless to say, the Suns definitely have a backcourt they can rely on to organize their offense. Meanwhile, their young center Deandre Ayton has grown to become a help on defense, averaging 7.2 drpg, along with helping on offense with a solid average of 14.4 ppg. On the other side, you have a Lakers squad that is determined to put their injury woes behind them and work towards capturing a second straight NBA title. The strong Lakers duo of Lebron and AD are both still averaging close to 30 ppg and 8.0 rpg, with Lebron averaging an extra stat of 7.8 apg. Needless to say, both teams in this series have strong duos helping their offenses. Also, the Lakers have two centers, Montrezl Harrell and Andre Drummond, that will be ready to put up a strong fight against Deandre Ayton for rebounds and buckets. Overall, this is going to be a thrilling series with the Suns team putting up a great fight against the defending champs, but the duo of AD and Lebron will power their team to win in 5 with the Suns getting at least 1 win for their loyal fans and to show the rest of the Western Conference that they are now a true threat.