A lot of times when people analyze the NHL or NBA, they start with the East. But www.anysportanytime.ca is founded in the West, so I’m going to start with the West!
(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (8) Memphis Grizzlies–
Spurs Top Three–Tony Parker 17.5 PPG, 6.6 APG; Emanuel Ginobili 17. 4 PPG, 4.9 APG; Tim Duncan 13.5 PPG, 8.9 RPG.
Grizzlies Top Three– Zach Randolph 20.1 PPG, 12.2 RPG; Mike Conley 13.7 PPG, 6.5 APG; Marc Gasol 11.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG.
Analysis: The Spurs come into the series as the hands on favourite, having won four NBA titles since 1999. The fact that 2011 is an odd year as well will help San Antonio because their four previous Championships came in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007. Gregg Popovich is as good of a coach as any in the entire NBA and has maximized the performance out of his players. The question in San Antonio is the health of Manu Ginobili, who injured his elbow in a meaningless game last night in Phoenix and is doubtful for Game One. This will be the fourth playoff appearance in franchise history for Memphis since moving from Vancouver in 2001. They have yet to win a playoff game, going 0-12 in the process. The X factor in the series is Randolph. The tenth year power forward has a criminal past dating back to his days in Portland, but seems to have everything under control now. Still the Spurs have the three best players and will win in six.
(2) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (7) New Orleans Hornets–
Lakers Top Three–Kobe Bryant 25.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG; Pau Gasol 18.8 PPG, 10.2 RPG; Lamar Odom 14.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG.
Hornets Top Three–David West 18.9 PPG, 7.6 RPG; Chris Paul 15.9 PPG, 9.8 APG; Carl Landry 11.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG.
Analysis:The future of the Hornets is currently in question as there have been rumours of a possible future move to San Jose. There are also rumours that their star point guard, Chris Paul is interested in leaving the Hornets. The Lakers had a surprisingly solid year from Lamar Odom, who at 31, seems to be rejuvenated with his marriage to reality television personality Khloe Kardashian. The X factor in the series is Andrew Bynum’s health. The Lakers center averaged 11.3 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per game in only 54 games. If his knee is close to being a 100%, he provides a significant body at 7’0″, 285 pounds, and compliments Gasol up the middle very well. I’m taking the Lakers in five.
(3) Dallas Mavericks vs. (6) Portland Trailblazers–
Mavericks Top Three–Dirk Nowitzki 23.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG; Jason Terry 15.8 PPG, 4.1 APG; Caron Butler 15.0 PPG, 4.1 RPG.
Trailblazers Top Three–LaMarcus Aldridge 21. 8 PPG, 8.8 RPG; Wesley Matthews 15.9 PPG, 3.2 RPG; Gerald Wallace 15.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG.
Analysis: At 32 years of age, Nowitzki’s numbers are down a little bit from the last two seasons, but not down substantially by any means. At 7’0″, 245 pounds, he is still Dallas’s top player and is the best player on either side in the series. However time is coming to an end on his chances of winning a Championship. I like the Mavericks’ depth as Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic offers Dallas a wealth of experience. The major question in Portland continues to be the health of their core players, and questions of what could have been? Fortunately, they should have Marcus Camby and Brandon Roy despite the fact they missed a combined 58 games this year. Head coach Nate McMillian utilizes the players he has at his disposal to the best of his ability in trying to come up with a winning formula. I like Dallas’s depth however and the Mavs will win in six.
(4) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (5) Denver Nuggets–
Thunder Top Three–Kevin Durant 27.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG; Russell Westbrook 21. 9 PPG, 8.2 APG; James Harden 12.2 PPG, 3.1 APG.
Nuggets Top Three–Danilo Gallinari 15.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG; Ray Felton 15.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG; Wilson Chandler 15.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG.
Analysis: Two teams that made blockbuster deals during the regular season meet in the first round. The Nuggets traded Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to New York for Felton, Gallinari, Chandler and reserve center Timofey Mozgov. The Thunder meanwhile traded Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green to Boston for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson. I understand the Thunder’s intention was to get bigger and meaner in the postseason, but without Green, Oklahoma City loses a significant starting shooter that played consistently at small forward. I think many people were impressed with the amount of immediate talent the Nuggets were able to receive for Anthony, and their ability to continue to win now under head coach George Karl. Since the trade Denver went 18-7, and have had no problems scoring. This past week they scored 264 points in two games If Nene Hilario, Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and Chris Andersen play at a respectable level, the Nuggets will pull off the first round upset. My pick: Denver in 7.
Tags: andrew bynum, Brandon Roy, carl landry, carmelo anthony, caron butler, chauncey billups, chris andersen, chris paul, dallas mavericks, danilo gallinari, david west, denver nuggets, dirk nowitzki, emanuel ginobili, george karl, gerald wallace, gregg popovich, j.r. smith, james harden, jason kidd, jason terry, jeff green, kendrick perkins, kenyon martin, kevin durant, Kobe Bryant, lamar odom, lamarcus aldridge, los angeles lakers, marc gasol, marcus camby, memphis grizzlies, mike conley, nate mcmillian, Nate Robinson, nenad krstic, nene hilario, new orleans hornets, oklahoma city thunder, pau gasol, peja stojakovic, portland trailblazers, ray felton, russell westbrook, san antonio spurs, shawn marion, tim duncan, timofey mozgov, tony parker, tyson chandler, wesley matthews, wilson chandler, zach randolph