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Column: Western Conference playoffs impressions

By Eddie Leonard
On April 23, 2014

The first round of the Western Conference playoffs has already had fans on the edge of their seats. The four games are perfect matchups that all have the potential to go at least six games.
The first matchup that immediately stood out to me this week was the Clippers v. Warriors series. This series had fans jumping out of their seats because DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin were throwing down dunks like it was practice on the Warriors defense. The series - though even at 1-1 - has been lopsided, let me explain why.
The Warriors stole Game 1 in the Staples Center. The Clippers star point guard, Chris Paul, lost the ball out of bounds with 18.9 seconds left in the game with his team down 107-105. When I say, "lost" I mean Draymond Green reached in and fouled Paul, causing the ball to go out of play. The call on the court was that Paul lost control of the ball and that it was Warriors ball. This turned the entire game around because the Clippers were forced to foul and it became a four-point game.
The Clippers would bounce back in Game 2 with a monstrous 40-point victory over Golden State. Griffin thrashed the Warriors inside the entire game as he exploded for 35 points in only 30 minutes.
The second series that has caught the eye of the basketball world is the Thunder v. Grizzlies series. A lot of people looked past Memphis in this matchup because they viewed last year's series as a fluke because Westbrook was injured.
However, this is not necessarily true because basketball's middle name is matchups. The Grizzlies matchup well against the Thunder in the post. The Thunder have a lot of great wing and perimeter defenders, but Serge Ibaka is the only threat deep in the post. Post coverage has been a problem for the Thunder because Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph post up all the time in the paint, spreading the floor for shooters Conley and Miller.
As for the series itself, the Grizzlies are lucky they did not go down 0-2 in the series. They should have won game 2 in regulation but Kevin Durant brought the Thunder back when he drilled a jaw dropping three pointer while being fouled. Luckily, the Grizzlies pulled out a overtime victory because they would have never forgiven themselves if they blew it, considering they let Perkins send the game to overtime.
In the Western Conference, the Houston Rockets and the Portland Trailblazers series can be summed up in two words: LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge exploded for 46 points and 18 rebounds in the overtime win on the road - especially incredible since he was going up against former Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard.
The last series, the battle of Texas, is between the Spurs and the Mavericks. The Spurs currently have a 1-0 series lead but the game was a lot tougher than expected. The Mavericks had a lead late in the game but they blew it. Dallas hung tough despite Nowitski only scoring 11 points, one of the worst playoff games of his 16 year career.

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