Catrell Simpson: April 11th, 2017

The NBA season isn’t over quite yet, but all of the Western Conference matchups have been set. The chase for the Larry O’Brien trophy begins April 15th. The West is full of talented teams from top to bottom. Here’s what you should expect to see in each of the 4 series.

#1 Golden State Warriors vs. #8 Portland Trail Blazers

The Warriors have been playing their best basketball as of late. They were winning games without Kevin Durant in the lineup. Now that he’s back healthy, that makes the Warriors even more lethal. The Trail Blazers season has been a roller coaster ride to say the least. At the break, Portland was 10 games under .500, but thanks to the addition of Jusef Nurkic and the tremendous play of Damian Lillard, the Blazers find themselves back in the playoffs. Outside of Lillard, Nurkic, and C.J. McCollum, the Blazers don’t have guys that they can depend on night in and night out. Dame Dollar won’t go out without a fight, but ultimately Portland will be no match for Golden State.

Warriors in 5.

#2 San Antonio Spurs vs #7 Memphis Grizzlies

Maybe it’s just me, but these two teams seem like they have the oldest rosters in the league. For the Spurs, this is their 20th consecutive season of reaching the playoffs. This is just another typical Spurs season led by MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard. The Grizzlies are also no strangers to being in the playoffs. This is their 7th straight appearance. All-Star Marc Gasol and Mike Conley have led the team this season. It’ll be fun to see the Gasol brothers, Marc and Pau, go back and forth in this matchup, but I see this matchup ending very similarly to the way it ended last postseason.

Spurs in 4. 

#3 Houston Rockets vs. #6 Oklahoma City Thunder

This is the matchup I am most excited to see. I wish MVP voting could be delayed until after this series. For the Rockets, James Harden’s transition to point guard has proved to be huge and has really helped them offensively. The midseason acquisition of 6th man of the year favorite, Lou Williams, only made their bench stronger and made them more deadly around the perimeter. As for the Thunder, Russell Westbrook is the catalyst for that team. We know about his historic season averaging a triple double, but what most people don’t realize is that the triple doubles usually lead to Thunder wins. They are 37-12 when the Brodie gets a triple double. In this series, Westbrook will get his no matter what, but the Rockets will be too deep and too hard to stop from behind the arc.

Rockets in 6. 

#4 Los Angelas Clippers vs. #5 Utah Jazz

The seeds in this series have not been clinched yet, but if the season ended today, the Clippers would have home-court advantage in this series. The Jazz have exceeded all of my expectations for them this season. Gordon Hayward made his first all star team, and they won 50 games. They are solid all around; good big men in Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert, and sharpshooters in George Hill and Rodney Hood. For the Clippers, this may be their last playoff run with this core. Blake Griffin, CP3, J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers will all be free agents at the end of this season. I think the Clippers matchup well against the Jazz, and really should have the advantage everywhere. They have the better coach, more all stars, better shooters and rebounders, and all around more playoff experience. No disrespect to the Jazz but if the Clippers play up to their potential, this series should be over fast.

Clippers in 5.