2020 NBA Playoffs: Western Conference Matchups

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Western Conference Matchups
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 12: Nikola Jokic (15) of the Denver Nuggets holds his face after taking a shot from LeBron James (23) of the Los Angeles Lakers during overtime quarter of Los Angeles' 120-116 win on Wednesday, February 12, 2020. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

In the last article, we took a look at the Eastern Conference matchups if they started now. This time, we’ll take a look at the Western Conference matchups. The Western Conference is a different animal than the Eastern Conference. Except for the eighth seed, all of the playoff teams are 10+ games above .500 right now. It was a pretty tight race for the last playoff spot and seeding between these teams. As stated all over, the NBA might be forced to start the playoffs as soon as they come back. No matter what, these playoff matchups are going to be fun to watch. Let’s take a look at these Western Conference matchups.

2020 NBA Playoffs: Western Conference Matchups

Lakers vs Grizzlies

This might be the only series in the Western Conference that might be over early. The Los Angeles Lakers have the best record in the West and second in the whole league at 49-14. They’re led by one of the best if not the best duo in all of basketball with Anthony Davis and LeBron James, who both are averaging over 25 points per game. One or both players are leading their teams in assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks. These two are going to be very hard to stop.

On the other side, the Memphis Grizzlies are one game below .500 but are competitive, to say the least. They’re lead by rookie Ja Morant, who is a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year. The Grizzlies also have a presents inside with Jonas Valanciunas, who is top three in multiple team statistics, including leading the team in rebounds per game with 11.2. Even though the Grizzlies can be a sneaky team, facing the Lakers isn’t going to be an easy task whatsoever.

Clippers vs Mavericks

The Los Angeles Clippers might be even stronger than they looked in the regular season. This team is nearly perfect when the team is 100 percent healthy and playing at full strength. The Lakers aren’t the only team to have a dominating duo. Kawhi Leonard is putting up 26.9 points per game while Paul George is averaging 21. Leonard is also leading the team in rebounds and steals. The starting five is filled with talent and this team has great depth throughout. The defense is also the Clippers’ strong suit. They are a very dangerous team that is out to show that they’re the team to beat.

The Dallas Mavericks have a strong duo as well with Kristaps Porzingis and Luca Doncic. The Mavs trading for Porzingis and drafting Doncic a couple of years ago was perfect. Porzingis is averaging 19.2 points per game while averaging 9.5 rebounds per game. Doncic is playing great right now. He’s averaging 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 8.7 assists while shooting 46.1 percent from the field. Doncic is one of the clear candidates to win MVP this season in only his second year. They also have other players stepping up like Tim Hardaway Jr (15.8 ppg) and Seth Curry, who is averaging 12.6 points per game and is shooting 45.3 percent from three and 50 percent overall. The Mavericks are just a few games away from being the third seed or even the second seed.

Nuggets vs Rockets

The sixth seed Houston Rockets are just 2.5 games back from the third seed Denver Nuggets. A big reason why the Nuggets are in front in because of the play from Nikola Jokic. He leads the team in points, rebounds, and assists per game. He’s also third on the team in field goal percentage. Jokic is a force to be reckoned with and teams will always have problems going up against the Nuggets because of Jokic. They’re also getting good play from Jamal Murray, who is averaging 18.8 points per game. The Nuggets can also be a tough defense for the Rockets.

Like most of these teams, Houston has a good duo on the court. Long time friends and former Thunder teammates James Harden and Russell Westbrook joined forced this offseason. Both are former MVPs and know how to lead a team. Many questioned if these two could work together and so far they have been. Harden is averaging a league-best 34.4 points per game and Westbrook is averaging 27.5 points per game. Harden leads the team in assists and steals while Westbrook leads the team in rebounds. The team traded for Robert Covington, who is a good all-around player. He leads the team in blocks and is top three in steals per game. The team as a whole hasn’t hit their stride yet which is scary for other teams. If this team can get it going, they’ll be as tough as they’ve been in the past few years.

Jazz vs Thunder

If the playoffs started as soon as they got back, these two teams will get to finish what they haven’t started. These two teams were about to tip-off until the league called the game because a Utah Jazz players felt ill in what was eventually diagnosed as coronavirus. The Oklahoma City Thunder are just one game behind the Jazz for the fourth seed. This team thought to be on the outside looking in after losing Westbrook but they brought in some good pieces and they are playing like a team. They brought in one of the best point guards in NBA history, Chris Paul. He leads the team in assists, steals, and is top three in field-goal percentage. They also brought in a young star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is having a breakout year while averaging a team-best 19.3 points per game.

Donovan Mitchell is getting better every year and this year is no different. He’s averaging a team-high 24.2 points per game. Center Rudy Gobert has been known as one of the best defenders in basketball. He leads the team in blocks per game and rebounds per game. He also leads the team in field-goal percentage. Bojan Bogdanovic is also contributing as he is averaging 20.2 points per game. The Jazz are a good defensive team but is going to get into offensive battles with teams. This team is only four games out of being the number two seed. This will be one of the most interesting first-round matchups in the whole league.

Last Shot

The Western Conference Playoffs are going to be an absolute dog fight from start to finish. This conference is stacked all around. I wouldn’t be surprised if the seventh seed (Mavericks) made a deep run. The amount of skill and the many duos in the Western Conference is going to make it a tough playoff for any team. We hope the NBA can resume soon because if it does, players will be warming up to the task for than ever.

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