Insider offers a breakdown of every playoff series using an expert combination of scouting from Amin Elhassan and advanced metrics from Bradford Doolittle to answer three crucial questions. Also included are predictions from the writers and the classic Log5 formula for determining matchup probabilities.
It's amazing how quickly things can change in the NBA, especially at playoff time. Just a couple of weeks ago, the buzz in the West was that the red-hot Denver Nuggets had a clear path to the conference finals. They had edged the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers for the No. 3 seed, had what seemed like a favorable first-round matchup against the Golden State Warriors and a possible second-round matchup against a San Antonio Spurs team that floundered down the stretch while battling a multitude of injuries.
Fast forward to now: The Spurs are primed for another run to the Finals and the Cinderella-story Warriors have become the darlings of the league after knocking out the Nuggets.
San Antonio's big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili look as healthy as they have all season and are rested after the Spurs swept the Lakers in the first round. It wasn't quite as easy for the Warriors in their upset of Denver, and they are still dealing with fallout from the hip injury suffered by double-double machine David Lee.
But this is a rhythm team on a roll, and fourth-year guard Stephen Curry has shown a penchant for stepping up the most when the lights are the brightest. San Antonio has the edge on paper, but Mark Jackson's young team won't back down.
Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs
Western Conference playoffs