Matchups in the first round of Western Conference playoffs

Matchups in the first round of Western Conference playoffs
The Mavericks will have to devise a way to defend Rockets shooting guard James Harden, seen here driving against Mavericks guard Monta Ellis. (Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)




67-15 (Home: 39-2; Road: 28-13)


45-37 (Home: 28-13; Road: 17-24)

Season series: Golden State, 3-1.

Key stat: The Warriors' high-octane offense averaged an NBA-best 110 points per game and gets all the attention, but they actually played some defense too, holding opponents to a league-low 42.8% field-goal shooting percentage.

Outlook: Fans can't wait to see Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson go crazy raining down three-pointers. But check out how the Warriors move and share the basketball. They led the league in assists, averaging 27.4 per game. And the nation finally will get a closer look at the Pelicans' young superstar Anthony Davis, who can dominate at both ends of the court.

Prediction: It's going to be fun watching the Warriors, but it won't be a long series. Warriors in five.


56-26 (Home: 30-11; Road: 26-15)


50-32 (Home: 27-14; Road: 23-18)

Season series: Rockets, 3-1.

Key stat: The Rockets attempted an NBA-high 32.7 three-pointers per game and made the most (11.4). The Mavericks had the fifth-best efficient offense in the league.

Outlook: James Harden will have to step up his game in the playoffs; he has shot below 40% from the field in his last three playoff series. Since there are no back-to-back games in the playoffs, the Rockets hope Dwight Howard can play extended minutes. He's averaged only 22 minutes a game since returning from a knee injury. Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle is at his best in the playoffs and will have his team ready with different schemes.

Prediction: It's hard to have faith in a jump-shooting team, but the Rockets have MVP candidate Harden to get them over the top. Rockets in seven.


56-26 (Home: 30-11; Road: 26-15)


55-27 (Home: 33-8; Road: 22-19)

Season series: Tied, 2-2.

Key stat: The Clippers had the most efficient offense in the NBA. The Spurs allowed just 97 points per game, tied for third-best.

Outlook: Both the Clippers and Spurs, two of the NBA's hottest teams entering the playoffs, get rewarded by having to play each other. This has the potential to be the best first-round matchup in the playoffs. Chris Paul vs. Tony Parker. Blake Griffin vs. the ageless Tim Duncan. Doc Rivers vs. Gregg Popovich. So many story lines.

Prediction: How many times has there been talk about the demise of the Spurs? A weak Clippers bench will be the difference in this series. Spurs in six.


51-31 (Home: 32-9; Road: 19-22)


55-27 (Home: 31-10; Road: 24-17)

Season series: Memphis, 4-0.

Key stat: The Grizzlies gave up just 95.1 points per game, second-best in the NBA. The Trail Blazers averaged 102.8 points per game, ninth-best in the league.

Outlook: This will be the unhealthy series. Portland won't have guard Wesley Matthews (Achilles' tendon) and forward Dorell Wright (broken left hand) and has concerns about forward Nicolas Batum (right knee), backup guard Arron Afflalo (right shoulder strain), backup guard C.J. McCollum (sprained left ankle) and center Chris Kaman (back). Memphis hopes to get back point guard Mike Conley (sprained right foot) and key reserve Tony Allen (left hamstring strain).

Prediction: It'll be the last team standing healthwise. The Grizzlies grind down the Trail Blazers in six.