The Western conference was even more stacked this year, and it wouldn't really surprise me if any of the lower seeds pulled off an upset.
Dallas Mavericks (8) at San Antonio Spurs (1)
I really like how this Dallas team has managed to be competitive this year, but this matchup is a real problem for them as San Antonio is a very similar team that just happens to do everything better. Dallas' best hope is to catch the Spurs during a cold shooting streak, but I don't think that will happen.
Prediction: San Antonio 4-0
Possible bets: Bet the over on every game. San Antonio should be willing to go back and forth scoring, assuming that their base defense will create enough separation by the time the game is over.
Memphis Grizzlies (7) at Oklahoma City Thunder (2)
During the last day of the regular season, I really thought Memphis was going to intentionally lose to play the Spurs instead of the Thunder. A more confident Reggie Jackson leading the second team and increased interior presence from the improved Adams specifically make them a harder matchup for the Grizzlies. By the way, I was watching the ESPN 30 for 30 on the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons earlier this week, and I think this Grit and Grind Grizzlies team of the past few years would've gotten much further in that era.
Prediction: Oklahoma City 4-2
Possible bets: Nothing really jumps out at me.
Golden State Warriors (6) at Los Angeles Clippers (3)
Even though the Warriors were my dark horse pick a couple months back to go far in the playoffs, this is just the worst possible matchup for them, especially with Bogut hurt. The Clippers have the interior size and skill to take advantage, while Doc Rivers should be reinforcing discipline and the need to take care of business. He knows a good showing will build the confidence and swagger they need to be real title contenders.
Prediction: Los Angeles 4-0
Possible bets: Bet the under in every game. I really think the Clippers will clamp down here and use their size and skill to bully the Warriors.
Portland Trailblazers (5) at Houston Rockets (4)
Both teams are very capable but also very inconsistent. In the end, it will probably come down to three point shooting for both teams. While the return of Beverly will definitely affect Liliard, the rest of the Portland team matches up pretty well, and Lopez at least has a big body to go up against Dwight Howard with. If they can stop the other shooters and let Harden get his, they should be able to pull through.
Prediction: Portland 4-2
Possible bets: Nothing really jumps out at me. The odds on a Portland upset (+160) don't offer much in the way of value.
Please click here for my Eastern conference preview.