2012 NBA Western Conference Playoff Odds: First-Round Series Predictions, Expert Picks, and Prices: For the last several seasons, the NBA’s Western Conference has been without question the tougher of the two. More importantly, it has been the dominant conference in terms of championships for more than a decade. In the 13 seasons since Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls ended their second run of three straight titles, Western Conference teams have won it all 10 times. Oddly enough, only the Spurs, Lakers and Mavericks have won the conference during the 13-year stretch. Will this be the year that a new team breaks through and represents the Western Conference in the NBA Finals?

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2012 NBA Western Conference Playoffs Series Predictions and Previews:

No. 1 San Antonio Spurs vs. No. 8 Utah Jazz

The Spurs were supposed to be too old to contend for an NBA title this season, but they finished with the best record in the conference for the second year in a row. Unlike last season when they were sent packing by a young and athletic Memphis bunch, the Spurs get a comfy matchup against a Utah team that likes to slow the pace as much as San Antonio does. The Jazz have a slight advantage in the frontcourt with the scoring ability of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, but it won’t offset the huge advantage the Spurs have in the backcourt. San Antonio took three out of four from the Jazz during the regular season, and the results won’t be much different in the playoffs. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and the rest of the perimeter role players will carry the Spurs into the second round.

Prediction: San Antonio Spurs Win in 5 Games

No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 7 Dallas Mavericks

On the surface, this seems like a rough draw for the Thunder. The defending champs knocked off Oklahoma City in last year’s conference finals, and I doubt Dirk Nowitzki and company will let their title reign come to an end without a fight. The Thunder did win the regular season series 3-1, but all four meetings were close. With the scoring prowess of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and the interior presence of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, there is no doubt that Oklahoma City has the more talented team. However, there is something to be said about the mental edge the Mavericks will have as the defending champs against a young team facing high expectations. The high-scoring Thunder has enough offensive firepower to emerge victorious, but Dallas will give Durant and company all they can handle.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder Win in 7 Games

No. 3 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 6 Denver Nuggets

The high-octane Nuggets led the NBA in scoring this season thanks to their fast-paced offense, and while a young, fast team may seem like a horrible matchup for the veteran Lakers, the regular season results say otherwise. Los Angeles won three out of the four meetings with Denver, controlling the tempo and holding the Nuggets under 100 points in all four games. Meanwhile, big men Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum took turns pummeling the Denver frontcourt. With Kobe Bryant waiting to hit clutch shots down the stretch and the massive size advantage in the paint, the Nuggets are simply overmatched in this series.

Prediction: Los Angeles Lakers Win in 6 Games

No. 4 Memphis Grizzlies vs. No. 5 Los Angeles Clippers

The Grizzlies surged into the playoffs, winning six straight and 11 of their last 13 to close the regular season. Meanwhile, the Clippers lost their final two games, missing out on a chance to win the Pacific Division crown and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. While Memphis has the edge in momentum, Los Angeles does have the best player in the series in point guard Chris Paul. His ability to control a game and create easy shots for Blake Griffin and the rest of his teammates will give the Clippers a fighting chance against any team. However, Memphis has a big edge in depth in the paint and on the perimeter, and unlike last season, forward Rudy Gay is healthy. The Clippers made some serious strides this year, and even though they weathered a season-ending injury to Chauncey Billups, the experience and presence of the veteran guard will be missed in the postseason. Paul and Griffin are the two biggest stars in the series, but the Grizzlies have the better team.

Prediction: Memphis Grizzlies Win in 6 Games

2012 NBA Playoffs – Series Prices

Philadelphia 76ers vs Chicago Bulls Series Prices Odds
2905 Philadelphia 76ers +1000
2906 Chicago Bulls -1400

New York Knicks vs Miami Heat Series Prices Odds
2907 New York Knicks +675
2908 Miami Heat -925

Orlando Magic vs Indiana Pacers Series Prices Odds
2909 Orlando Magic +650
2910 Indiana Pacers -900

Dallas Mavericks vs Oklahoma City Thunder Series Prices Odds
2911 Dallas Mavericks +400
2912 Oklahoma City Thunder -525

Utah Jazz vs San Antonio Spurs Series Prices Odds
2913 Utah Jazz +1200
2914 San Antonio Spurs -2000

Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers Series Prices Odds
2915 Denver Nuggets +175
2916 Los Angeles Lakers -210

Boston Celtics vs Atlanta Hawks Series Prices Odds
2917 Boston Celtics -185
2918 Atlanta Hawks +165

Los Angeles Clippers vs Memphis Grizzlies Series Prices Odds
2919 Los Angeles Clippers +175
2920 Memphis Grizzlies -210

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