By Alex Pavlovic
Staff Writer

Can someone please tell TNT that those split screen commercials where two players talk at once are incredibly creepy and confusing? I mean I couldn’t even tell who one of the half-faced players was last night. It looked like Mike Bibby, but no one would put an Atlanta Hawk in a commercial right? Right? Oh well, it doesn’t even matter. With matchups this good, the games will sell themselves.

As much as I hate them, the Lakers will easily wax the Nuggets before squeaking by a tough Jazz team that’ll have no problem with poor T-Mac and whoever he’s playing with. MVP Chris Paul – that’s right, I said it – will easily lead the Hornets past Dirk Diggler’s Mavs, before falling in round two. Now on to the best first round series since the glory days of the Warriors – all the way back in 2007. Suns-Spurs is going to be one for the ages, and Phoenix will get its revenge for last year’s debacle where David Stern shafted them like they were a blonde on Spring Break.

Dreams do come true, at least in this column, leading to a delicious Suns-Lakers Western Conference Finals matchup. Shaq vs. Kobe! Nash vs. Kobe! Amare and Pau scoring on each other at will because neither gives a shit about defense! I can’t contain myself! Hold on, let me change my boxers. Alright I’m back, and I’ve got to believe this is finally Nash’s year. It’s his last hurrah, and after getting screwed last year, he’s got more than enough motivation to sneak past Kobe – a guy who knows a thing or two about screwing – and the Lakers in seven.

By Chris Hoffman
Staff Writer

I can honestly say that I’ve never been this excited for the Western Conference Playoffs. Mainly, this is because my Lakers hold the top seed, but there’s more to it than that. When the Lakers won three straight titles from 2000-02, there was little surprise in the early rounds. Sure the Spurs and Kings gave the Lake Show some epic series later in the postseason, but back then there was no point in watching the playoffs until the conference finals.

Times have changed in 2008, and even if the top-seeded Lakers bow out in the first round in wouldn’t be that big of a shocker in the ridiculously competitive West. Honestly, Melo and AI on an eight-seeded team? That’s crazy good. A Nuggets upset wouldn’t even register on the surprise scale compared to what the Warriors pulled off last year. Every team in the West has a feasible chance to win the whole thing in what could be the best conference playoffs ever.

It’s horrible that the Suns and Spurs are facing off in the first round because they’re the two teams I want to be embarrassed with a first round exit. Shaq looks even uglier in orange than he did in purple, but Tim Duncan finally showed some emotion, meaning I guess I’ll have to go with the Spurs. I feel bad for the Hornets because they aren’t going to be able to handle the defending champs in their first postseason together. We’re headed for a classic Lakers-Spurs clash yet again, and this time L.A. won’t need any .4-second heroics to reach the Finals, winning the series in six.

By Rob Garcia
Staff Writer

If you’re team doesn’t have an absolute stud running the show in the Western Conference Playoffs this year, then I’m afraid it’s time to pick your reel, load up the boat, and head out for some fishin’.

OK, so the Lakers are an exception to this rule, but in my opinion, everything really comes down to either an excellent point guard or a Kobe Bryant and only one team has the latter.

Let’s face it, Denver simply doesn’t stand a chance against the Bryant-Gasol a.k.a. Batman-7-foot-Robin duo that snatched the #1 seed from the West’s greedy hands. Los Angeles will meet the D-Train and a dangerous Utah team that took care of business in Houston on Monday night, shifting the scene to EnergySolutions Arena where the treatment of visitors resembles the movie “Hostel.” Ironically, the Jazz’s last home loss was to the Lakers back in mid-March, which makes me believe LA will survive.

In the most exciting first-round pairing, the Spurs and Suns will duke it out in seven games with no Horry-ble excuses this time around. But Steve Nash is still a liability on D and not even Superman can stop the relentless Duncan-Parker combo.

If you can believe it, Chris Paul is actually better than Dallas’ Jason squared and the Bugs have so many weapons around him. When the youthful Hornets encounter San Antonio, however, playoff experience will prevail and the Lakers-Spurs rivalry will be renewed.

When the dust settles, San Antonio shall return to the Finals for a Duncan-Garnett battle that will be epic.