Sports Central Playoff Bracket: Bottom half of the Western Conference

1. The Portland Trailblazers over the Dallas Mavericks
There are very few people actually choosing the Mavericks to win this one even though they are the higher seeds. The Mavericks rely too heavily on Dirk Nowitzki while the Blazers have Wesley Matthews, Gerald Wallace and LaMarcus Aldridge all averaging over 15 points per game.

Wild Card to watch:
Jason Kidd: Kidd has been respectable this season but needs to make a greater impact during the playoffs. His eight assists per game should be closer to 10 from here on out.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Aldridge has proven that he can be the team's star during the regular season but things change in the playoffs. It will be interesting to see how he fairs.

Blazers 4-3 Mavericks

2. The L.A. Lakers over the New Orleans Hornets
The Lakers don't look like a championship team anymore but they are fortunate to be facing a Hornets team without David West. West was the team's top scorer before he was lost for the season.

Wild Card to watch:
Andrew Bynum: Bynum needs to stay healthy first and foremost but recently his on the court vigour has had Lakers fans drooling.
Chris Paul: Paul was at his very best to drag his team into the playoffs, he will have to be superhuman to take them any further.

Lakers 4-1 Hornets

3. The L.A. Lakers over the Portland Trailblazers
The Lakers are very lucky with the way this bracket works out. The Blazers have enough players to overmatch the Mavericks but the Lakers won't rely on just one player. As much as Kobe Bryant does like to take over games, guys like LaMar Odom and Pau Gasol will be the difference in this series.

Wild Card to watch:
Andre Miller: The one telling advantage that the Blazers will have is at the point guard position. Miller is better than any point guard on the Lakers roster and will need to exploit that.
Derek Fisher: Playing stout defense for Fisher will be vital against the Blazers.

Lakers 4-2 Blazers


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