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Western Conference playoffs preview and predictions

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In the second part of their conversation about the playoffs, Michael Erler, Jesus Gomez and J.R. Wilco tackle the Western Conference.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Erler
Oh my God, I just realized something terrible.

We're not going to get any Manu Game 5 home games. The biggest lock in all of sports!

J.R. Wilco
And last year we didn't get any Stephen Jackson game 6s. Life is hard, isn't it?

Michael Erler
It comes at you fast.

J.R. Wilco
Like an Anthony Davis spin move after a fake handoff.

Michael Erler
Boris and Aron were less than ideal in defending him.

They should've tried Kawhi, just for fun.

J.R. Wilco
Isn't everybody less than ideal?

Jesus Gomez
Four words: Matt Bonner, Davis Stopper.

J.R. Wilco
And I was thinking the same thing about Kawhi.

Michael Erler
I was hoping Tim would. C'mon, show how much you want that two seed.

J.R. Wilco
He did at the end of the fourth quarter.

Jesus Gomez
Stop living in the past, you guys. Let's preview the West.

Michael Erler
Okay, 1) Golden State vs. 8) New Orleans.

Obviously the question is how many games it'll take the Pellies to swing the upset.

J.R. Wilco
It's hard for me to picture this going even five games. Golden State owns New Orleans.

Michael Erler

I'll give New Orleans Game 3 at home.

Jesus Gomez
I think it's a sweep but it would be so much fun if the Pelicans steal the first game of the series.

J.R. Wilco
Agreed.

Jesus Gomez
So many columns comparing the Warriors to the '07 Mavericks.

Michael Erler
I'm not sure any team had more people I disliked on it than the '06-'07 Mavs.

Jesus Gomez
This year's Clippers?

J.R. Wilco
I don't know, that 1986 Boston Celtics team featured Dwayne Schintzius.

Jesus Gomez
I really think the Clippers are underrated there. Chris Paul is the worst.

Michael Erler
The Clippers just have Blake, CP3, Davis and Doc. I don't mind anyone else. Barnes is a nut, but he means well for his team.

I like Turkoglu (I have to) and Jordan is okay, and Redick was very impressive on a podcast with Lowe.

Jesus Gomez
Dahntay Jones is kind of a dirty guy. Hawes is unlikable.

Michael Erler
Hawes is a mixed bag. On one hand I disagree strongly with his politics, on the other, he's a big soccer fan.

J.R. Wilco
...back to GSW and the NOPEs.

Jesus Gomez
Yeah, sorry. The Pelicans could really make things (relatively) hard by going small as much as possible. Slot Davis at center and run with the Warriors.

Michael Erler
They have to do it with those guys for 48 minutes though. No bench.

Davis is gonna give Bogut problems. And he'll make the whole "Draymond Green can defend bigs" thing look kinda silly.

Jesus Gomez
Alexis Ajinca will have a great playoff game where he scores 20. Book it.

Michael Erler
That's the series where Pop can't answer the phone, right? He can't be impartial to either coach?

Or partial, I guess.

J.R. Wilco
I wonder how much Kerr identifies himself as a coach out of the Popovich family tree.

Michael Erler
Way more so than Phil, if you go by his offense and the stuff he says.

He spouts a lot of pop-isms.

J.R. Wilco
Sure, but I'm wondering about how he would describe himself.

Jesus Gomez
"Not Mark Jackson"

J.R. Wilco
Burn.

Michael Erler
He'd probably say Lute Olsen as much as anyone.

I love that Jackson still throws shade at them in broadcasts.

J.R. Wilco
Jackson still throw shade at everybody.

Well, everybody that he sees as remotely a threat to his old legacy.

Michael Erler
Such a phony. He can't be like "I love Steph" and then say Harden is the MVP.

It's ironic, that Jackson was a pass-first point guard who's like third all-time in assists, and he hated passing, while Kerr was a point guard in name only, basically a spot up shooter, and he loves passing.

Jesus Gomez
Not ironic at all. Jackson loved to hold the ball, Kerr didn't have the ball.

Michael Erler
That's interesting.

I guess Kerr needed people to pass it to him

J.R. Wilco
And since he was always open he knows what it's like to be ready to score and in position but never get the ball.

Jesus Gomez
Exactly. The bigger the role old players had, the more they like ISOs and post ups because they use to get those.

Michael Erler
I'm thinking if Bogut does something big in the WCF or Finals he might really show up Jackson.

J.R. Wilco
Like in a post game interview kind of thing?

Jesus Gomez
Bogut was the one guy who didn't like Jackson. I could see that.

Michael Erler
Or just yell stuff to him while going down the floor or something.

Jesus Gomez
He might need to wait until the second round because I don't see many big moments coming in the first round. I think the Warriors will win easily. 4-1.

Michael Erler
Yeah, 4-1.

Although the Warriors bench is sneaky bad.

J.R. Wilco
Sneaky "bad"?

Michael Erler
They're not the deep juggernaut people make them out to be. The starters are fantastic, but after Iggy, it goes down fast.

Jesus Gomez
I'm not a Speights fan but he's been good for them. Livingston too. They are not as deep as the Spurs but their starters minus Bogut can all play 40 minutes.

Michael Erler
I think Kerr is gonna push them pretty hard if he has to. Not Scooter Brooks hard, but 38+

J.R. Wilco
Wouldn't surprise me.

Jesus Gomez
He really shouldn't have to against New Orleans but we'll see.

Michael Erler
Okay, so everyone 4-1?

J.R. Wilco
I'm thinking sweep.

Jesus Gomez
Bold.

Michael Erler
Y'all love sweeps.

J.R. Wilco
They're so definitive.

Michael Erler
Okay, 2) Houston vs. 7) Dallas.

J.R. Wilco
Here's where we have to cheer for the Mavericks to win so we can have home-court advantage in the second round.

Jesus Gomez
I might be alone here but I think the Mavericks have a shot.

Michael Erler
I'm so tempted to pick Dallas. I really want to. But their defense is soooooooooooo bad.

Jesus Gomez
Sooooooooooo bad.

J.R. Wilco
As is their Rondo.

Michael Erler
I have no faith in Dwight Howard at all, and their PG situation is the one in the West that can't exploit the matchup with Rondo, and there's the Chandler Parsons revenge tour...

and the better coach....

But I just keep coming back to the Mavs D.

Jesus Gomez
It's crazy but the X Factor will be Josh Smith. If he plays well, the Rockets will advance easily. He provides a little bit of defense, rebounding and playmaking. They really need him.  If he plays poorly and Dirk plays like Dirk, I can see that series going long.

Michael Erler
Mavs are the healthier team, Dirk aside.

J.R. Wilco
I'm thinking it's likely to go seven.

Michael Erler
Eh, the hell with it. Mavs in seven.

It's probably gonna be Rockets in five.

Jesus Gomez
Way to backtrack.

Michael Erler
I talked myself into it.

Jesus Gomez
Here's the crazy prediction of the night: Mavs in six.

J.R. Wilco
Houston in 7.

Much to my chagrin.

Michael Erler
We know you're gonna be wearing your Olajuwon jersey cheering them on.

J.R. Wilco
You leave Hakeem out of this.

(And I don't own any jerseys.)

Michael Erler
No jerseys? Really? That's a shocker.

J.R. Wilco
I have my Spurs cap. And I have my T-shirts. That's enough for me.

Jesus Gomez
No jerseys for me either. What jerseys do you own, Michael?

Michael Erler
Lifetime or currently?

Jesus Gomez
Currently.

Michael Erler
Probably just a Manu and an old school Eagles Cunningham.

Jesus Gomez
I hope you don't wear that Manu jersey when you badmouth him on Twitter.

We should probably move on before this gets personal.

Michael Erler
I do that to show I'm impartial. You always hurt the ones you love.

J.R. Wilco
Yeah, but not because you do it on purpose.

Michael Erler
I can't win. Either I'm too hard on him or I pick him for 6MOY and get laughed at.

Jesus Gomez
So Grizzlies vs. Trail Blazers. Who you got?

J.R. Wilco
Grizz for sure.

Michael Erler
Ugh. I wish I knew how healthy Conley and Allen were.

Jesus Gomez
And Batum and Afflalo. So many injuries.

J.R. Wilco
Oh, that's right. I was assuming healthy Memphis.

Michael Erler
If they're like 80% then Grizz in five.

This series would only be interesting if I knew beforehand that the Spurs would sign the loser's best player.

Marc! LaMarcus! Fight for my love!

J.R. Wilco
I'm not too picky. I'd take either.

Although I prefer Gasol.

Jesus Gomez
It's too early to go there but the team that loses might have a hard time selling its star on re-signing.

Michael Erler
They'd have to trade Splitter.

I think at this point Pop is ready to take calls on Tiago.

J.R. Wilco
That poor right calf is like the left back wheel on my tricycle when I was a kid: always falling off.

Michael Erler
It'd be some story if it was literally falling off.

J.R. Wilco
Prove that it's not!

Michael Erler
Pop would probably stop thinking he's a wuss if it fell off.

Jesus Gomez
No, he wouldn't.

Michael Erler
Tiago thanks the Flying Spaghetti Monster every day that Danny Green is on that team.

J.R. Wilco
No doubt.

Michael Erler
If Green leaves, Splitter might request a trade. "Nuh uh, I don't want to be that guy."

Jesus Gomez
A sick part of me likes it when Splitter is out because it forces everyone -- hopefully Pop as well -- to acknowledge just how important he is.

Michael Erler
Most of the time Diaw and Baynes pick up the slack. And then you have games like the Pelicans.

J.R. Wilco
And ... back to Memphis-Portland.

Jesus Gomez
I'm blaming Michael for all these derails, by the way.

J.R. Wilco
So am I.

Michael Erler
Your hate nourishes me.

I'm taking the Grizzlies. Just way deeper.

Jesus Gomez
So the series might come down to Lillard going supernova or just playing at his normal level. LA won't be able to offset what Marc and Z-Bo do.

If Lillard finds that extra gear, it might be an interesting series. If that doesn't happen, I'm taking Grizzlies in 6.

Michael Erler
Beno might go supernova.

J.R. Wilco
For the other team he might.

Michael Erler
Now THAT'S a Pop loyalist right there, being anti-Beno

J.R. Wilco
You know me too well.

I'm calling Griz in 5.

Michael Erler
Same.

J.R. Wilco
Too many injuries for Portland.

Michael Erler
I'm not sure if Afflalo is even playing and McCallum got hurt in Game 82. They might not have a shooting guard.

Of course, when Allen is in the lineup, neither do the Grizzlies

Jesus Gomez
Haven't you heard of Alonzo Gee and Allen Crabbe?

Michael Erler
A former Spur castoff on each team.

J.R. Wilco
Gee came up through San Antonio's system, didn't he?

Michael Erler
2008-2010 just gets me angry.

J.R. Wilco
Almost everything gets you angry.

Michael Erler
This is true.

Jesus Gomez
Quick aside: Are Spurs fans lusting after Batum as much as in the past? It's been a disappointing season after a crazy Eurobasket.

J.R. Wilco
I don't think I'll ever stop. Pop would make such amazingly good use out of him.

Besides, I'm not sure you can put too many good French basketball players on the spurs.

Michael Erler
I think they're too busy trying to re-sign Kawhi and Green.

Jesus Gomez
Batum or Danny Green? That's the question I was afraid to ask.

Michael Erler
What's crazy is Green can make damn near Batum money, on merit.

J.R. Wilco
Gotta go with Green. Just because he's proven in SA.

Michael Erler
The advance stats LOVE Green. They pretty much think he's their second best player.

Jesus Gomez
Someone needs to be the heel. Give me Batum.

J.R. Wilco
Green's just so incredibly accurate when he's wide open.

Michael Erler
His home/road splits though.

J.R. Wilco
Even so.

Michael Erler
I like Danny more. Less of a wild card, more coachable, incredible transition defense, can get very hot.

J.R. Wilco
Ahh, Danny Green's hands: where fastbreaks go to die.

Michael Erler
Once guys punch another guy in the jewels, it's pretty hard for me to like them, but I'm wiling to give it a chance if Manu does it to Paul.

Jesus Gomez
It was Juan Carlos Navarro. He deserved it.

Michael Erler
For what?

Jesus Gomez
For being the European Jason Terry.

We are discovering that I'm lenient on nut-punchers. Except for Terry and Paul.

Michael Erler
I rooted for Terry in a couple of playoff series. I regret nothing.

J.R. Wilco
I can't bring myself to do it. Even against Miami, I couldn't stand the fact that he got a ring.

Michael Erler
I could get past it because I was happy for Dirk and I HATED Miami.

In 2006 I rooted for Miami against Dallas, and they had Shaq. My allegiances change quickly.