By Craig Fields
Is anyone as excited as I am about the NBA Western Conference playoffs? These playoffs will be so competitive top to bottom that it will be hard to pick a winner of each series.
Sure each series will have its favorites, but those favorites could be also-rans when the series is all said and done. It is a pity that each conference has to have eight representatives because there are at least nine teams that deserve to go to the tournament in the Western Conference.
Unfortunately there will be a team that could possibly be 15 games over .500 at the end of the season and not make the playoffs. That’s how competitive it is in the West. The last three teams, the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, and Memphis Grizzlies all have something different to offer.
The Dallas Mavericks, who are currently 7th in the conference, play an offensive heavy type of game. They rank 21st in the league in defense and 8th in offense. They run set isolation plays and high pick-and-rolls for their future hall-of-famer Dirk Nowitzki. They rank third in the league in free-throw percentage and second in 3-point percentage. They shoot the ball at a high clip and tend to win their games that way. They play decent defense in spurts but overall their aim is to out-score and out-run you.
The Phoenix Suns, who are in eighth, resemble the Mavericks style of game play, but on caffeine. The Suns rank sixth in the league in scoring and 23rd in scoring defense. They rank sixth in point differential. The main Achilles heel of this team is their obvious lack of defense. They simply try to outrun teams and that is why they are fighting for the last playoff spot with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Speaking of, the Memphis Grizzlies are completely on a different side of the spectrum. While they may struggle at times offensively, they do not struggle defensively. They rank third in the league in scoring defense and 27th in scoring offense. The reason they are currently ranked 9th in the Western Conference standings is because of their absolute struggle to score consistently. It remains yet to be seen if these guys will make the playoffs, but with their all-around adept approach on the defensive side of the ball it would be hard seeing these guys not make the tournament. They caught fire against the Miami Heat (minus Dwyane Wade) on Wednesday night proving the Grizzlies would be a tough opponent.
If the Western Conference playoffs turn out to be half as exciting as the race to see who will be in the playoffs, then we are going to be in for a treat. Someone tell the end of the regular season to get here already!