With the Utah Jazz ending an incredible seven-game first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Western Conference semifinals can finally get underway. The Jazz will advance to play the Golden State Warriors, while we witness a Texas showdown in the bottom bracket.

1. Golden State Warriors vs. 5. Utah Jazz

The Jazz came away with gutsy performances against the Clippers, winning three road games in L.A. As impressive as that is, the Warriors are a completely different monster. Although the Warriors thrive when playing fast, pace really doesn’t matter for them because they have enough offensive weapons to find scoring in half-court sets.

Utah must count heavily on its defense, attempting to force turnovers and clogging the paint with Rudy Gobert’s presence. They have the size advantage when it comes to rebounding and defense, but it would be tough to overwhelm the Warriors, who are extremely versatile. Utah’s defense may be top notch, but Warriors offense is too overpowered due to high efficiency, ball movement, and versatility.

In this case, offense will overcome defense, mainly because the Warriors also possess potent defense. The Jazz have depth, which they should use to their advantage, but they have limited offensive firepower. They may be able to steal a game, but the Warriors should be able to dominate.

Prediction: Warriors 4-1

2. San Antonio Spurs vs. 3. Houston Rockets

This series is strictly offense versus defense. While the San Antonio Spurs possess one of the best defenses in the league, the Houston Rockets possess one of the best offenses. Behind James Harden, the Rockets are electrifying on the offensive end, surrounding him with multiple outside shooters to space the floor.

However, the Spurs are a well-oiled machine on both ends of the floor, led by Kawhi Leonard. Their defense is phenomenal, and their offensive execution is nearly flawless. As long as they protect the three-point line, the Spurs should be able to hold off Houston. Additionally, the Spurs have multiple defenders to throw at Harden, but he should mainly see Danny Green and Leonard as the primary defenders.

In this case, defense should overcome offense, as the Spurs are experienced enough to know how to contain a resilient three-point shooting team, dating back to the years when Gregg Popovich faced off against Mike D’Antoni led Phoenix Suns teams. The Spurs have the depth and defensive weapons to be able to overcome the Rockets, but the series shouldn’t be a short one.

Prediction: Spurs 4-2

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