2016 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Round 1 Predictions

Posted by Joe Solari on April 18, 2016 in

After the first set of games in Round 1 of the Western Conference Playoffs, it seems like the top seeds are well set to cruise past opening round of the postseason games en route to an entertaining run in the NBA playoffs. The #1 Golden State Warriors, even with Stephen Curry out for nearly half of the game against Houston, eased past the #8 Rockets in a win of 20-plus points. The #3 Oklahoma City Thunder followed suit in a more impressive fashion, rolling past the #6 Dallas Mavericks in a 38-point rout. Then, in a not-surprising manner, the #2 San Antonio Spurs continued to flaunt their season-long home dominance with a thumping win of 20-plus points over the shorthanded #7 Memphis Grizzlies. And to cap it all off, a clinical performance by the #4 Los Angeles Clippers—led by Chris Paul and the returning-to-form do-all-forward Blake Griffin—gave the Clips a thrilling blowout win over the pesky #5 Portland Trail Blazers.

What can we expect from these eight teams that are still in the running for the top honors in the West? Will the favorites continue to impress in the playoff NBA odds or will we witness some changes and upsets in the course of the first round? Here are our bold predictions…

2016 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Round 1 Predictions

Golden State vs. Houston

The Warriors swept the regular season series against Houston with four wins by an average of 12.3 points per game and should have no problem with recording another four-game sweep over the disarrayed Rockets in the opening round of the playoffs. This is a Golden State team that is coming off a record-breaking 73-win season and is hell-bent on riding that success all the way to the Finals in the quest to repeat as National Champs, so there’s no way it will be allowing Houston to ruin that chance. And even if they Rockets played their mighty best, they’d still not just measure up; Houston’s defense has been deplorable and no other Rocket (apart from James Harden) is showing the ability to step up to the Warriors, so GSW should take this one easily, with or without the banged-up Curry in the fold.

Prediction: Golden Sweeps Houston, 4-0.

San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis

Thanks to their injury woes, the Grizzlies have been a mess down the stretch of the season (winning just one of their final 11 games) and they should count themselves lucky to be in the postseason. Their struggles were clearly evident on Sunday, as they had no answers to San Antonio’s stingy defense (led by DPOY Kawhi Leonard) while their offense simply couldn’t match up to the Spurs, especially in the paint. Making matters worse, the Spurs have owned the Grizzlies in recent years, including winning all the four regular-season meetings this year by an average of 12.5 points per game. Added to the fact that San Antonio would want to finish this series quickly and rest for a potential grueling showdown against OKC, a series sweep looks highly likely for the Spurs.

Prediction: San Antonio Sweeps Memphis, 4-0

Oklahoma City vs. Dallas

Like Golden State and San Antonio, the Thunder have a very favorable matchup in a Dallas Mavericks team that they swept through four games in the regular season, winning the games by an average of 9.5 points per game. Dirk Nowitzki has been a cog in the team and J.J. Barea has been a revelation for the Mavs down the stretch of the season. Unfortunately for Dallas, OKC knows how to contain the aged Nowitzki while Barea is confirmed out of Game 2 after he exited Game 1 with an injury. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s City’s top scorer Kevin Durant and triple- double machine Russell Westbrook are as solid and uncontainable as ever, setting up a lopsided matchup against Dallas. With that, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Thunder strike out the Mavs in four. Prediction: Oklahoma City Wins the Series 4-1, with the Mavs stealing one of the games in Dallas.

 LA Clippers vs. Portland

The Clippers won three of their four meetings against Portland in the regular season and, going by the manner in which Los Angeles stifled the Trail Blazers in Game of the playoffs on Sunday, there are more than enough reasons to believe that Doc Rivers’ boys will get the job done here. The biggest shot in the arm for the Clippers is the fact that Blake Griffin, whose been out of the LA team for more than half of the season, is healthy and seemingly returning to his scaring best. Not to mention, DeAndre Jordan is a rebounding beast (better than Portland’s Pumlee) and CP3 is a point god (obviously better than Damian Lillard). As a concern, though, the 3 of 4 wins over Portland in the regular season came by an average win margin of just 1.75 points per game, meaning the Blazers can definitely hang with the Clips. And although Lillard is no Chris Paul, he can just be as good (if not better than CP3) on a good day. When you combine that with the fact that C.J. McCollum is arguably the most improved Portland player this season, you get a Portland team that is very capable of taking this series all the way to Game 7.

Prediction: Clippers win the Series 4-2, with the Blazers stealing one win in LA and claiming another in Portland