Earlier, Celtics 101 gave it's Eastern Conference predictions 1-15. Here are the predictions for the Western Conference.
1) San Antonio Spurs: This team knows how to win, and while they are getting older, Tim Duncan is still superb and Kawhi Leonard made steady improvement all year, culminating in a huge NBA Finals performance. Never underestimate the heart of a champion.
2) Oklahoma City Thunder: While Russell Westbrook's absence might add some pressure the first six weeks of the season, they still have Kevin Durant and an elite defender in Serge Ibaka.
3) Los Angeles Clippers: Doc Rivers could be the biggest acquisition of the summer for any team. However, he still cannot shoot free throws for DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. Until the Clippers find someone else to carry some of the load down the stretch of games, they will not get past the Spurs and Thunder.
4) Houston Rockets: While the addition of Dwight Howard is great, he has not been a good influence for any team the past few seasons. Will he be happy in Houston? This team will be fun to watch. It might be comparable to the 2008-09 Magic team, but with a player like James Harden they'll be better.
5) Golden State Warriors: This team is a must watch, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are projected to shoot 600 three pointers each. The addition of Andre Iguodala should also be interesting considering his defensive prowess and willingness to play his role and do his job on the court.
6) Memphis Grizzlies: Size and grit, that's what this team is built on. They've been consistent for the past few years, and they will continue to be this season.
7) Denver Nuggets: This team lost Andre Iguodala and George Karl. They had lost nine of their last ten first round playoff series. They needed a change. It's an interesting concoction of players. Ty Lawson will run the show and Danillo Gallinari's return will be very welcome once he's healthy.
8) Minnesota Timberwolves: If Kevin Love stays happy and Ricky Rubio stays healthy, this team could run and gun their way into the playoffs.
9) Portland Trail Blazers: A star point guard in Damian Lillard along with LaMarcus Aldridge could give Portland something to root for.
10) Los Angeles Lakers: This team is a conundrum. Kobe Bryant's return is still up in the air. They do not have much talent beyond Pau Gasol , Bryant, and Steve Nash. Old age and a lack of depth will make it tough for the Lakers to finish in the top eight, especially in this tough Western Conference.
11-15) New Orleans Pelicans, Utah Jazz, Pheoniz Suns, and Sacramento Kings: These teams seem like they are all the same. The Kings might rise above this group, but these teams are all rebuilding.
Western Conference Finals:
Spurs over Thunder
Spurs over Heat
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