The Western Conference has been notorious for being the tougher conference over the last decade or so. But just how tough is the West this season? We’re getting ready to find out.
The Warriors take on a Portland team that is very similar to the one they beat in five last year. The Clippers and Jazz take each other in what is expected to be the most competitive playoff series in the first round with both teams coming in with identical records. The MVP front runners Russell Westbrook and James Harden will take each other on in another highly anticipated match up. The Spurs will face off against a Grizzlies team that is always gritty and a tough match up.
The Western Conference doesn’t seem to be as tough as it was last season, when Kevin Durant wore Thunder blue and the Spurs looked just as good as the 73 win Warriors team. The Clippers were dangerous that season too before losing Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to injury after jumping to a 2-0 lead over Portland in the first round. Last season’s most memorable point came when the Thunder lost a 3-1 lead to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, which is often overshadowed by Golden State’s similar fate after jumping to a 3-1 lead over Cleveland in the NBA Finals.
This year, the anticipation isn’t nearly as high to match last year’s excitement but that could lead to some surprising upsets. If Portland can take the Warriors to six or seven and Memphis can hold off the Spurs for as long as they can, then the second round could see a big upset. The Jazz and Clippers are teams that could get hot and sweep the other, and have the chance to take on a Warriors core that’s still blending with the return of Durant from injury. The Rockets and Thunder each have a decent chance against the Spurs (with an even better chance of getting by Memphis). The Rockets could even be favorites if they run through Oklahoma City and the Spurs slip a couple games against Memphis.
The best bet to take down the Warriors may have to be a collaborative effort, as a quick sweep of Portland along with a 4-1 win against the Clippers would give the Warriors a pretty easy schedule given the Rockets/Thunder game could go to seven and the winner of that would likely go to six or seven as well.
That’s fourteen possible games in the same time frame that the Warriors would only have nine, which could be the difference maker. Not to mention that Golden State would have home court no matter who they face in the Western Conference Finals, which means that the West’s best chance to take down the Warriors would have to be a collaborative effort from the whole conference.