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Oklahoma City Thunder (1) vs. Dallas Mavericks (8)
The Utah Jazz are the team with more depth, making them a likely option to make the postseason. With Dirk Nowitzki still on the Dallas Mavericks, however, a weak Big D roster will make it to the playoffs in 2013.
Unfortunately, that's as far as they'll go.
In a repeat of the 2012 postseason, the Dallas Mavericks simply won't be able to handle Kevin Durant in the clutch. Russell Westbrook will also have another year of seasoning and will begin to focus more on defense than anywhere else.
Oklahoma City will move with as impressive a series as we've ever seen.
Series Result: Thunder win 4-0
Los Angeles Lakers (2) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (7)
The Minnesota Timberwolves have placed themselves in prime position for a postseason run. Kevin Love is a legitimate superstar while Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea offer one of the best point guard combinations in the NBA.
Unfortunately, the T-Wolves simply cannot slow the Lakers down at the 2 or 5 and will succumb to Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum's brilliance. After all, this is the postseason we're talking about and Kobe is nearly impossible to stop once that time rolls around.
Series Result: Lakers win 4-1
San Antonio Spurs (3) vs. Denver Nuggets (6)
The San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets are set for a slugfest. San Antonio is led by crafty veterans and the legendary coaching of the Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs. Denver, meanwhile, have an explosive offense and a future Hall of Famer in George Karl at the helm.
So who will emerge victorious in this battle of equal wits and high-octane offense?
Ty Lawson will break out in a major way while rising stars Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee will play exceptionally well. Unfortunately, that simply will not be enough to combat the likes of Tony Parket, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan.
Nor will it be enough to trump the depth San Antonio will put forth.
Series Result: Spurs win 4-3
Memphis Grizzlies (4) vs. (5) Los Angeles Clippers
In a rematch of the 2012 postseason, the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers will remain the next best teams behind the Thunder, Lakers and Spurs. They'll also remain bitter rivals as their physical war finds a round two.
This time around, it will be the more fundamentally sound frontcourt that walks away victorious.
Rudy Gay will show up in a major way but that won't be the story. Nor will Mike Conley Jr. matching Chris Paul blow for blow as he did in 2012. The telling tale will be Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol as they combine for a dominant series in which 15 and 10 from each on a nightly basis can be all but expected.
Series Result: Grizzlies win 4-2