Sports Central Playoff Bracket: Top half of the Western Bracket

1. The Spurs over the Grizzlies
The late injury to Manu Ginobli will disrupt the team somewhat but they should still have enough to get past the Rudy Gay-less Grizzlies. This will be one of the tightest 1-8 seed contests in recent years but I still expect the Spurs to ride Tim Duncan to the next round.

Wild Card to watch:
George Hill: Hill has averaged 11.6 points in 28 minutes during the regular season. His workload will increase with the limitations/loss of Ginobli.
Marc Gasol: Gasol is a good player but may be overpowered by the Spurs leader Tim Duncan. The Spurs will run their offense through Duncan even moreso without Manu.

Spurs 4-2 Grizzlies

2. The Oklahoma City Thunder over the Denver Nuggets
In what looks to be the most evenly matched and exciting series of the first round, the Oklahoma City Thunder should advance past the revamped Nuggets. The Nuggets have prospered since the trade of Carmelo Anthony but won't be able to deal with the combination of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Wild Card to watch:
James Harden: The Thunder's sixth man will look to get in good scoring firm early on to propel him for the later rounds.
Raymond Felton: Felton doesn't start for the Nuggets but does play over 30 minutes per game. He must win his matchup with Westbrook at the point if the Nuggets are to advance.

Thunder 4-3 Nuggets