The NBA Playoffs are finally upon us and it’s time to get to everything matters now. It’s not important how may triple-doubles Russell Westbrook has, as long as the Thunder wins. Can James Harden lead the Rockets past his old teammate and into the second round? Will the real Pau Gasol show up and be the next Tim Duncan. Will Chris Paul finally get that monkey off his pack and lead the Los Angles Clippers to the promise land? And, who can beat the Golden State Warriors?
Here are 5 questions for the First Round of the Western Conference Playoffs.
Who will step up and help Russell Westbrook?
Westbrook is the MVP, hands down. However, that was for the regular season. With averages of 31 points per game, you should expect the same in the playoffs. However, Westbrook will need help along the way if the Oklahoma City Thunder are to beat the Houston Rockets and James Harden. This is the time for Victor Oladipo to step up. He was brought over in a trade to help Westbrook on the offensive end and while his averages of 16 points and 4 rebounds were modest, the team will require more. If Oladipo struggles on the offense end he could shift gears and become a defender to try to slow down Harden. If he can manage to keep Harden from going basket-for-basket with Russell, the Thunder will have a chance to pull off the upset.
Are the Utah Jazz for real?
The Jazz was the best team that no one wanted to talk about. George Hill brought a toughness at the point the Jazz were missing since John Stockton retired. The Jazz are the best defensive team in the league for a reason and it all starts at the point. However, you cannot forget about Rudy Gobert and his 14 points, 13 rebound and 3 blocks per game. Gordon Hayward is an offensive machine that will give the Los Angeles Clippers fits on the wings. If the starters are struggling, the Jazz reserves are one of the best in the NBA. Depending on what happens with Derrick Favors, the Jazz can go smaller with Joe Johnson who has plenty of playoff experience and the ability to knock down a big shot if needed. The Jazz won 51 games for a reason and may be in line for a second round matchup.
Who will score for the Memphis Grizzlies?
The Grizzlies will go against a great defensive team in the San Antonio Spurs but who will score? Zach Randolph can offer a few buckets here and there but he’s no longer the offense threat he was three seasons ago. The pressure to produce will fall on the shoulders of Marc Gasol but he himself is not a consistent 25+ point per night player. With Chandler Parson out and Vince Carter near retirement, the Grizzlies will struggle from the field against the tough Spurs defense.
Will the Portland Trail Blazers vs the Golden State Warriors be the best of the First Round?
When looking at both teams we shouldn’t expect anything less that a shootout. Damian Lillard can score with the best of them and he will need to be on his A-game if the Blazers have any chance of an upset. While the backcourt for both teams may cancel each other out, it’s Kevin Durant and Draymond Green that will be the difference. The Blazers are thin in the frontcourt and will have a hard time matching baskets with the triple-double threat and the offense powerhouse that is Green and Durant.
Who will advance?
Thunder in 7
Jazz in 5
Spurs in 4
Warriors in 4