NBA Playoff Schedule: Western Conference Teams Trending Upward
The Western Conference once again features far more compelling teams and storylines than their Eastern Conference counterpart.
While certain teams like the LA Lakers and Dallas Mavericks enter the postseason on fumes, other teams are entering the playoffs full-steam ahead. Here are the three teams you don’t want to be playing in Round 1 of what is sure to be an incredibly wild and eventful 2012 postseason.
No. 1 San Antonio Spurs
This team wins even when they try to lose.
Despite resting all their starters multiple times down the stretch, the Spurs are riding a nine-game winning streak and look like a team desperate to get the bitter taste of last year’s quick playoff exit behind them.
With Tim Duncan on his last legs, the urgency is much higher with this team than, say, an Oklahoma City to win now. No team is going to be more focused and more prepared for the grueling second season than the Spurs.
Can the old legs handle the rigors of four playoff series? That remains to be seen, but there is no question they’ll be incredibly tough to beat in Round 1.
No. 5 Memphis Grizzles
The Grizz are the team nobody wants to play.
Are the Grizzles Capable of Reaching the NBA Finals?
With Zach Randolph finally taking the brace off his knee, expect Z-Bo to begin the playoffs as a starter for the first time since the very beginning of the season.
The Randolph-Marc Gasol combo is one of the greatest frontcourt combinations in the league. Randolph is the rare back-to-the-basket scorer who is a great rebounder as well. With Z-Bo back in the mix, Gasol can face-up at the elbow and create some outstanding spacing on the floor.
With Mike Conley Jr. and Tony Allen playing stingy defense on the perimeter, this team is as balanced and deep as any squad in the entire conference.
The NBA Finals are a distinct possibility for a team that has flown under the radar for a second-straight season.
No. 6 Denver Nuggets
After beating the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road 106-101 Wednesday night, the Nuggs are all but assured the sixth seed in the West.
The top scoring team in the league looks to be on a collision course to face the Lakers, a team that just lost Ron, er Metta World Peace for potentially six games of the series.
Danilo Gallinari is finally healthy again, and has fresh legs after missing 24 games throughout the season due to various ailments.
With Ty Lawson playing the best basketball of his career, in addition to the emergence of rookie Kenneth Faried and newest player JaVale McGee, the Nuggets are suddenly a run-and-gun team that actually protects the rim. The defensive intensity is at an all-time high in Denver.
Winning seven of their last nine, this team is firing on all cylinders at the perfect time.
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