At the midway point of the NBA season, we make some Western Conference playoff predictions.
We continue our exercise from the mid-season Eastern Conference playoff predictions and we head West.
The Western Conference is loaded and much more deep than the East. The difference between first place and eighth place is a measly seven games. There are stars abound in the West, which makes this exercise very exciting.
I'd like to note, that just as we did in the Eastern Conference, we will not be worrying about the play-in tournament here. We will solely be focusing on who I believe will be the eight teams that will make the playoffs. With that being said, let's make it like a house party platter and dig in!
First round: 1st seed Denver Nuggets vs. 8th seed Dallas Mavericks
Some truly awe-inspiring content right here in this series. We get the two international superstars in Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic of the Nuggets and Mavs respectively. This matchup has a lot of intrigue and provides tons of star player showcasing.
The Denver Nuggets will look to repeat as Champions this upcoming postseason. They defeated the Miami Heat in last year's Finals to secure the title of the best team in the NBA. As per usual, the Nuggets are rolling along this season, led by MVP candidate, Nikola Jokic. This team is so much more than just Jokic. It feels like every piece the Nuggets add to their team is calculated and well-thought-out. There are no real "out of place" pieces on this roster.
A healthy Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. will help this team immensely as the season dwindles to a close. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a great role player for this team and Aaron Gordon has reinvented himself in Denver. Their bench is relatively young, but it hasn't been too much of a detriment to their season. On the other side of the court, we have the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs have a pair of scoring fiends in Doncic and Kyrie Irving. They can light up the scoreboard on any given night and are a scary one-two punch.
Aside from Irving and Doncic, however, there really isn't much fear the Mavericks will be able to instill in their opponents, especially the Nuggets. Jokic will bully rookie center, Dereck Lively II. Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon are much better options than Josh Green and Derrick Jones Jr.
In all fairness to the Mavericks, securing a spot in the playoffs and leapfrogging teams like the Lakers, Jazz, and Warriors will be impressive in its own right, but that'll be about all the postseason praise they will receive here. I expect this series to be easily had by the Nuggets without much of a fight from the Mavericks.
Prediction: Denver Nuggets win 4-1