BLOGTABLE: Which West teams win Round 1 of the Playoffs?
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 13, 2019 09:01 PM
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 24: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz drives to the basket against Clint Capela #15 of the Houston Rockets on October 24, 2018 at Toyota Center, in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
NBA Philippines blogtable
The 2019 NBA Playoffs are upon us, which means it's time for our Philippine bloggers to break out their crystal (basket)balls and gaze into the future. At the end of round one, which teams will be moving on, and which will be scheduling their vacations? Here are our picks for the Western Conference round one games:
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#1 Golden State Warriors vs #8 LA Clippers
Enzo Flojo: Golden State in 4
Nobody thought THIS LA team would still be alive and kicking come mid-April, and yet here we are, with the Lou Williams-led Clips facing the defending champs in the first round. It won't be much of a contest, though, especially with a reasonably healthy GSW raring to get "the real season" started.
Marco Benitez: Although the Clippers are an extremely well-coached team that made the playoffs despite trading one of their best players before the deadline, the Warriors are still the Warriors. With their Death Lineup among the best defensive units in the league, and now even deadlier with a motivated DeMarcus Cousins, regardless of how competitive the Clippers make the games, there’s just too much firepower to go up against. Warriors in 4.
Migs Bustos: 4-0 Warriors.
It will be brooms out for the Warriors. The Dubs are too strong and much more experienced than the Clippers.
Anton Roxas: Warriors in 4.
They’re the defending back-to-back champions with a roster that is even stronger than the ones they fielded during the previous two years. It’s going to be a nightmare for the Clippers.
#4 Houston Rockets vs #5 Utah Jazz
Enzo Flojo: Houston in 6
Utah's defense has been airtight the past few months, but even they may find it difficult to hamper Houston's Harden-charged, high-octane offense. The only way Utah pushes this beyond six games is if Donovan Mitchell has a series for the books and actually produces numbers that will somehow cancel out the production of MVP candidate James Harden.
Marco Benitez: This will be Offense versus Defense, as the league’s 2nd best offense matches up against the league’s 2nd best defense. During the regular season, the Jazz proved that they can defend the Rockets, allowing just 99 points per 100 possessions – that’s the least that the Rockets have scored against any Western Conference opponent, as per NBA.com's John Schuhmann. The question though is whether they can stop a finally-healthy Rockets squad with Harden playing his best when the stakes are at their highest. Rockets in 6.
Migs Bustos: 4-2 Rockets.
James Harden has proven time and again that he can lift his team whenever he wants to. What’s great about Harden is that even if he’s ball-dominant, he makes his teammates become great, too. So if the defense comes at him, his guys are always ready to produce. It’ll be tough for the Jazz to advance.
Anton Roxas: Rockets in 5.
The Rockets are known for their offense. Outside of Rudy Gobert, Jae Crowder, and maybe Thabo Sefolosha, the Jazz aren’t really that solid defensively. Utah’s got a problem. And, it’s Houston.
#3 Portland Trail Blazers vs #6 Oklahoma City Thunder
Enzo Flojo: Oklahoma City in 7
I love the Dame-CJ backcourt combo. For me, that's an all-planet-Earth top-3 guard duo, but with Jusuf Nurkic out against a team that swept them, 4-0, in the regular season, Portland may be out of their depth here. It wouldn't be wise to fully throw out the Blazers' chances, of course, especially with Enes Kanter also upping his game, but the Russ-PG-Adams trinity may just be too hot to handle for Portland.
Marco Benitez: This will be an epic matchup between the high-scoring Portland backcourt of Lillard and McCollum vs. the do-it-all tandem of Westbrook and George. Portland will rely heavily on Enes Kanter to make life difficult for Steven Adams inside. However, the Thunder are a much better defensive team nowadays and when consistent, are capable of locking down any team. In the end, I just don’t think Portland, without Nurkic, have what it takes to defeat OKC with their 2 potential MVP candidates. Thunder in 6.
Migs Bustos: 4-3 Thunder.
This series can go either way. What’s holding me back on rooting for the Blazers in this series is the absence of Jusuf Nurkic. Dame Time and 3-J McCollum can lift their team, but only to a certain extent, and they have yet to prove themselves in the grandest of situations. Russell Westbrook’s superstar status can get them on the other side. As long as he doesn’t play with blinders on and involve his team more, then yup, they can win.
Anton Roxas: Thunder in 6.
OKC is on a roll having just beat Houston and Milwaukee. Meanwhile, Portland does not look as threatening as they did prior to the devastating injury to Jusuf Nurkić. I see the electrifying tandem of Russell Westbrook and Paul George powering the Thunder over the Blazers in 6 games.
#2 Denver Nuggets vs #7 San Antonio Spurs
Enzo Flojo: Denver in 7
I don't want to bet against San Antonio, but I also cannot imagine the second round without the Nuggets, who have looked like the best team in the league at different points in the season. The Spurs have some things going for them, though, like Denver's relative inexperience and the terrific tandem of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, but if the Joker can keep up with his all-around wizardry and guys like Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and Paul Millsap hit their shots, Denver will knock the Spurs off.
Marco Benitez: I was actually surprised that the Spurs still made the playoffs despite their rough start. Though not as deep as the Spurs of old, but Pop is still arguably their biggest asset against a playoff newbie in the Nuggets, who despite having tremendous young talent, are untested in the playoffs. The big question is how will San Antonio stop Nikola Jokic. Solve that and they may even pull off an unlikely upset. Spurs in 7.
Migs Bustos: 4-2 Nuggets.
I won't count out the Spurs in this one, but the Nuggets have been steady all season and can overcome the Spurs' assault. I have faith in Nikola Jokic that he can lift his team, and the presence of Paul Millsap will be the x-factor.
Anton Roxas: Nuggets in 7.
The Nuggets are practically newbies when it comes to playoff competition whereas the Spurs are very much familiar with this type of environment. Despite this predicament, Denver does have the advantage in terms of their lineup and will find a way to edge San Antonio in a series that will go the distance.
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