San Antonio Spurs (1) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (5)
|Two of the best ever from Wake Forest.|
The Clippers have youth, size, and the best player on the floor in Chris Paul. In some ways, it appears the Clippers are the perfect team for the job of taking the number one seed out. San Antonio is older, slower, and smaller. Feast on the offensive glass and exceed Tony Parker's production with CP3's, and you have yourself an upset.
But it's not that simple. The Spurs have superior health, home-court advantage, and, to put it nicely, a significant edge at head coach. They also have 3-point shooting. San Antonio ranked first in the NBA in 3-point percentage this season and continued hitting from deep against Utah at a 40.7 percent clip. The Clippers, nearly last in the league at defending the 3-point line during the regular season, closed out on Memphis well, but Memphis's weakness is shooting 3's, whereas it's a strength for the Spurs. The Clippers don't have the size or the consistent smarts to defend San Antonio's spread-floor offense.
With that spacing, Parker and Manu Ginobili will carve San Antonio up. The only way the Clippers contend with that duo is if Eric Bledsoe plays like he did in game 7 against Memphis. Tim Duncan should also get his on the green DeAndre Jordan, who will likely be in foul trouble for much of the series.
The best thing L.A. has going is Blake Griffin will likely put up better numbers than the 18 points and 6.4 rebounds he did against Zach Randolph. His production and offensive rebounding, as well as Kenyon Martin's and Reggie Evans's ability to drag the Spurs to hell, will keep this series close. Chris Paul will dominate as per usual.
The series will be close, but the Spurs have too many built-in advantages going in.
Pick: Spurs in 6
Oklahoma City Thunder (2) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (3)
The Western Conference matchup everybody wanted to see. After the Thunder thrashed the team that trounced them a year ago, they get their revenge match against the Lakers, who bounced them from the playoffs two years ago.
|Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant are two of the league's best pure scorers.|