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2017 NBA Playoff Preview: Western Conference

Pondering each of the four first-round series in the West.

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The 2017 NBA playoff preview ponders this: how will the West be won, as in the Western Conference of the NBA? Ask Golden State: they know.

After all, they’re two-for-two since 2015, and want to make it three straight years of conference championships. Given their record and seed, there is a distinct possibility of such an occurrence.

And then, you have teams like San Antonio and Houston wondering if they’re chopped liver, so to speak. The Spurs and Rockets combine for a win percentage of .707. Notwithstanding that, either one would be an underdog against the Warriors in a series. That’s what happens when a team with Steph Curry and Kevin Durant wins over 80 percent of their games.

As we did yesterday with the Eastern Conference, we reflect on each of the four series.

2017 NBA Playoff Preview: Golden State vs. Portland

The Warriors are not going to lose this series. If they do, it would be an earthquake and one of the biggest upsets in NBA history. Only five times in several decades of this NBA playoff format has the number one seed lost in the first round. If it happens anywhere this year, it’ll be in the East.

Forget the fact that the Warriors have a lot of wins, star power, playoff pedigree, and a perfect regular season over Portland. Actually, wait: don’t forget those things. That’s why the poor Trail Blazers are heavy underdogs. Portland had to turn on the jets just to get here, and it’s one thing when you’re climbing over middling .500 teams. This is more like the Cleveland Browns having to play the Pats in Foxboro. Good freakin’ luck.

2017 NBA Playoff Preview: Houston vs. Oklahoma City

This could be the most entertaining series in the first round. Houston and all of their wins against likely MVP Russell Westbrook makes for must-see TV. How badly does Oklahoma City need Westbrook, you ask? Let’s put it this way: the Thunder wouldn’t be booming without him. Without the help of Kevin Durant, Westbrook led OKC back to the playoffs. He will need the cooperation of others on his team to stay there.

James Harden is the man of the hour for Houston, and the back and forth between him and Westbrook should be a lot of fun to watch. Despite the fact that this is a 3-6 game, the series feels quite even. With the exception of the March 26 meeting, the games were competitive. Flip a coin, fellas.

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