As another grueling 82 season ends, another chapter begins with the NBA playoffs. We take a look at each first round playoff series with a matchup to watch and predictions. This is on the Western Conference, be sure to check out the preview of the East.

1) San Antonio Spurs vs. 8) Dallas Mavericks

I’ll make this short; nothing is getting on the way of the Spurs in the first 2 rounds of these playoffs, not even a rejuvenated Dirk Nowitzki and company. The Spurs swept the season series against the Mavs this season by an average of 19 points and it figures to be right around the same in this series. It will be a positive if the Mavs could at least get a game in, other than that, the Spurs are simply superior.

Matchup to watch: Dirk Nowitzki (DAL) vs. Tim Duncan (SAS)

Prediction: Spurs win 4-0.

2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 7) Memphis Grizzles

Memphis sneaked into the 7th spot on the last day of the season, with an OT win over the Mavs, avoiding a dominant San Antonio team. Their consolation prize? Kevin Durant and the OKC Thunder. This series also figures to an over quick. Durant (likely this year’s league MVP) seems just to motivated to have an early playoff exit this year. Also it should be noted this same Grizzles team knocked out OKC last year in the playoffs 4-1 so expect some revenge on their mind. The Grizzles do have an intriguing mismatch with Marc Gasol, but Durant and Russell Westbrooks scoring should negate that quickly.

Matchup to watch: Russell Westbrook (OKC) vs. Mike Conley (MEM)

Prediction: Thunder win 4-1.

3) Los Angeles Clippers vs. 6) Golden State Warriors

Wow what a series this is looking to be. Two of the best offensive teams (and worst defensive clubs also) go head to head in a series that is sure to produce plenty of highlights. The Clippers are an improved club (partly due to the improvement of Blake Griffin)  and they are slightly favored in this series but a lot of it depends on Warriors super-star Stephen Curry who can single handily shoot the Warriors into the next round (such as the Nuggets series last year). If Curry is cold and his supporting cast follows suit it could be a quick 5 game exit, but if they unleash the potential they’ve shown at times and the pieces come together, this can be one of the most memorable playoff series in recent memory.

Matchup to watch: Stephen Curry (GSW) vs. Chris Paul (LAC)

Prediction: Clippers win 4-3.

4) Houston Rockets vs. 5) Portland Trailblazers

This series involves two teams that are headed different ways. The Rockets were really on the upswing the last month of the season, while still staying relatively healthy. However Portland (once considered a top 3 team in the West this year) needed a late 9-2 surge just too even get into the playoffs. Portland started hot and has cooled dramatically in their shooting. Houston has been fairly consistent all season with their star duo of James Harden and Dwight Howard. Houston is the favorite in the series but if Portland’s own duo of Damian Lillard and Lamarcus Aldridge can get going early, it could be a long series for the Rockets.

Matchup to watch: Chandler Parsons (HOU) VS. Wesley Matthews (POR)

Prediction: Rockets win 4-2.     

Be sure to check back after the first rounds are over for my take on the semi-finals matchups in about 10-14 days.