J.A.: For Clippers-Warriors, I'm going with Denver Nuggets coach Brian Shaw's theory that two great players at the same position cancel each other out. So if Curry and Chris Paul negate each other, I'm taking Griffin over Green. Green might make things difficult for Griffin, but he won't win the matchup. That pretty much sums up my take on the series in general. It's still the No. 1 series to watch in the first round, the one everyone hoped for.
I fear for Vogel and Jackson if they don't make the conference finals -- maybe even the NBA Finals, in Vogel's case. That's the sinister side of these playoffs." -- J.A. Adande
What matchups do you most want to see in later rounds? To me, they both involve the outcome of this series. Golden State could advance and give us an extension of the regular-season matchup with Oklahoma City that gave us two games decided at the buzzer and Durant's career high of 54 points. And if the Clippers move on, could you imagine an NBA Finals with them against the Heat? Griffin and LeBron could combine to set a Finals record for dunks. Or flops. Either way, a Clippers-Heat Finals would be GIF-tastic.
Israel: The numbers geeks will have your head for the "mathematical" approach to the Clips-Warriors, but you'll probably be right anyway.
Before I venture back East -- that Toronto Raptors- Brooklyn Nets series is intriguing, but it would still be only the fourth-best series in the West -- I have to hit on Portland Trail Blazers- Houston Rockets. As much as Warriors-Clippers has the most intrigue, this series might have the most points. Like, over/under 240 points per game might be the standard.
We know the approach both teams take, with the Rockets leading the league in 3s made per game, while the Blazers might lead the league in itchy trigger fingers from distance. Between Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews and Mo Williams, the Blazers have plenty of willing launchers who'll play about 30-35 minutes or more. And while James Harden put up better than 30 per game against the Blazers in the regular season, both Dwight Howard and LaMarcus Aldridge had big-time numbers themselves in this season series.
I've actually got a Portland upset in this one because they're just in a better place right now in their game. But if it's offense you want, this is the series to watch.
J.A.: Really quietly, the Blazers are the hottest team in the Western Conference playoffs, winners of five in a row and nine out of 10. Also on the low-low, we can add Terry Stotts to the list of coaches who could really use a series victory. The best Blazers season in years and yet, they haven't signed him on for more.
I wouldn't mind a Portland victory for his sake and the sake of the midrange game. Aldridge and the Blazers thrive on the shots the stat geeks despise. Also, if Lillard goes off, doesn't that mean we have to move him up to that level Curry reached last season?