Updated: May 31
NBA Playoffs: Western Conference First Round Predictions
Written by: Andrew Felton
With the play-in tournament complete and the NBA playoff picture set, let's take a look at the first round games and who is most likely to proceed to the divisional semi-finals.
Denver Nuggets (1) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (8)
First up in the Western Conference is the number one seed the Denver Nuggets, who are taking on the eighth seed and play-in tournament winners the Minnesota Timberwolves. Dominating the Western conference with a record of 53 wins and 29 losses, this should be a straightforward win for the Nuggets, led by starman Nikola Jokic averaging close to a triple double across the season with 24.5 ppg, 11.8 rpg and 9.8 apg and again in the running for league MVP. The Timberwolves will not go down without a fight and have shown this through gaining a spot in the playoffs, after winning against the Thunder and have some star players of their own with Anthony Edwards, Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Prediction - Denver Nuggets win the series 4-1
Phoenix Suns (4) vs Los Angeles Clippers (5)
Also facing off in the Western Conference is the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers. With the Suns winning one more game in the regular season than the Clippers, we could see one of the closest series of this playoffs, which might go the distance. With the Clippers acquiring Russell Westbrook from the Lakers and him looking fired up, partnering with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, this Clippers team will be looking to reach the finals. However, going up against the Sun's will be no easy task. With Phoenix trading for Kevin Durant adding to their already stacked roster of Devin Booker and Chris Paul this is a team that could definitely reach the finals if all players are healthy and on the same page.
Prediction - Phoenix Suns win the series 4-2
Sacramento Kings (3) vs Golden State Warriors (6)
Creeping into the playoffs were last year's NBA champions the Golden State Warriors. With one of the best all round starting five in the league and a roster consisting of so many champions, Golden state will be looking for back-to-back championships with Steph, Klay, Draymond and Poole fearing no one. Golden State will be up against the third seeds, the Sacramento Kings who will be bidding to win the NBA championship for the first time since 1951. With a young team and a MVP candidate player in Domantas Sabonis this could be the Kings season to lift the title, but with no real stars can this team really go all the way and challenge for that championship.
Prediction - Golden State Warriors win the series 4-3
Memphis Grizzlies (2) vs Los Angeles Lakers (7)
Everyone doubted the LA Lakers this season with many writing them off from the beginning. With a terrible start to their season, constant injuries and a variety of trades, somehow the Lakers managed to gain a spot in the playoffs going above 0.500 with a record of 43-39 W/L, beating the Timberwolves in a play-in game to set up a clash against the Grizzlies. With the Lakers and Lebron James heading into this series as the underdogs, will the pressure be too much for a team led by a troubled Ja Morant, who is backing his team along with others to take down the Lakers and send Lebron and AD packing in the first round.