NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals Preview: Matchups, Predictions, and more

Semifinal Matchup: LA Lakers vs Houston Rockets

After dropping the first game in the playoffs to the Portland Trailblazers, the LA Lakers won 4 in a row to get past Damian Lillard and his crew. Although it seemed like the Lakers got by easily, this series had its ups and downs. In game 2, Damian Lillard suffered a finger dislocation and had to exit the game. Without Dame, the Blazers couldn’t close out the game. Further on, Lillard suffered a right knee sprain, and “Dame Time” halted to a stop. The Lakers responded by winning the series, but the Lakers had gone through some troubles as well. 

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 29: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates his three pointer during a 104-96 win over the Indiana Pacers at Staples Center on November 29, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Throughout the bubble, the Lakers have been one of the top stories. During the seeding games, they appeared to be struggling. They barely beat the Clippers, and lost to the Raptors in what were important matchups. Many were doubting whether the Lakers would even come out of their first round series, Charles Barkley being one of them.

However, the Lakers have a chance to make the Western Conference Finals by beating the small ball team of the Houston Rockets. While the Lakers only needed to play 5 games, the Rockets have just come off of a game 7 against the Thunder, and it wasn’t easy.

ORLANDO, FL – SEPTEMBER 2: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets reacts to play during Round One, Game Seven of the NBA Playoffs on September 2, 2020 at Advent Health Arena in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

After taking the first two games comfortably, the Rockets proceeded to give up the following 2 games. OKC evened the series in a surprising turn of events, with Dennis Schroder as the lead scorer for both games. There is no doubt that Chris Paul was one of the most important pieces of the puzzle, and that the Thunder were able to stay competitive due to him. He is one of the smartest guys on the floor, working smoothly with Schroder and young Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The series, however, did not end as well for this team, as the Houston Rockets managed to *literally* hold on to it. 

If the Rockets have any fatigue from this series, they mustn’t show it against the Lakers. They already took game 1, and if they want to get past the Lakers, the Rockets need help from everyone. Westbrook is set to play, and he will be an essential part of this series.

Prediction: Lakers d. Rockets 4-2

Semifinal Matchup: Denver Nuggets vs LA Clippers

Coming in hot off of another 7 game series are the Denver Nuggets. After going down 1-3 to the Utah Jazz, Jamal Murray put on a show and willed his team to win 3 games in a row, defeating Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz. This Nuggets team has shown that they can will their way back into a series, even if it looks like the opponent has a strong hold. They are definitely a worthy challenge for the LA Clippers.

ORLANDO, FL – SEPTEMBER 3: Jamal Murray #27 high-fives Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets during Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals of the NBA Playoffs on September 3, 2020 at Advent Health Arena in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Now, I know everyone wants to see a Lakers-Clippers Western Conference finals. It has been the narrative since the season itself started back in October. It looks like the Clippers can play their part in this narrative, with an impressive game 1 win over the Denver Nuggets. They passed the hard test of Luka Doncic and the Mavericks, and are ready to devour the Nuggets (pun intended). 

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 03: Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets dribbles the ball as Montrezl Harrell #5 of the LA Clippers defends during the second half on September 03, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

With Montrezl Harrell taking the 2019-2020 Sixth Man of the Year Award, the Clippers are well-equipped to help lead man Kawhi Leonard and partner Paul George. The Clippers are definitely one of the top contenders for the NBA Championship this year.

Prediction: Clippers d. Nuggets 4-1

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