(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (5) Los Angeles Clippers
With Tony Parker on the court, the Spurs outscore the Clippers by 26.5 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com/Stats. With Parker on the bench, the Spurs are outscored by 12.4 points per 100 possessions. Don’t think we will see a lot of lineups without Parker, though. Good luck, Clippers. Prediction: Spurs in five.
The Clippers just got out of a physical seven-game series with a team that was better than them. San Antonio matches up quite well with Los Angeles, and it will be important for San Antonio to avoid dropping Games One and/or Two. Prediction: Spurs in six.
(2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (3) Los Angeles Lakers
The Thunder limited the Lakers to 39.6 percent shooting in three games this season and the Lakers barely defeated the Denver Nuggets, a team devoid of frontcourt girth. Nick Collison, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins are solid defensively and they should at least prevent Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol from completely dominating the interior especially if Kobe decides to help the Thunder by taking a steady diet of long 2-pointers. Prediction: Thunder in five.
In a series where Scott Brooks actually has the upperhand, I like Oklahoma City’s chances to make quick work of a struggling Lakers team. The Lakers will need Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum to deliver against Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. Then again, can the Thunder avoid Westbrook from “taking over.” Prediction: Thunder in five.