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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 17: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers dribbles away from Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz during a preseason game at Staples Center on December 17, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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Picking The Western Conference Semifinals

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

One things is for sure with our Western Conference Final Four: we have some new blood.

The Warriors didn’t make the group, the Lakers were eliminated and Houston was never the same once they traded James Harden. 2021 will give us either Utah, Phoenix, Denver or the Clippers in the NBA Finals representing the Western Conference.

Which teams will get one step closer?

#2 Phoenix Suns vs. #3 Denver Nuggets

First off, I have to admit when I am wrong, with these two teams I was wrong.

I thought both he Lakers and Blazers would be here getting ready to battle. Injuries did in the Lakers and the Blazers just couldn’t get past the Joker. This isn’t about those teams it is about who has advanced. Congrats to both Phoenix and Denver for getting here and now each are just one series win away from the conference finals.

On the surface this looks like it is about health.

Chris Paul found a way to battle through a shoulder issue while Denver is banged up and will still not be whole for this series. Look for Denver to get every last drop out of Nikola Jokic but they have larger issues.

The backcourt in this series is a big advantage for Phoenix. Paul and Booker should feast off of Denver’s backcourt. The Nuggets will really miss Murray and Barton in this series. Phoenix is a really good defensive team and they will have the ability to put Bridges and Crowder on Michael Porter Jr, to limit his impact. Denver is well coached, they will battle, they just won’t have enough.

The pick: Suns in 5 (in a very competitive series)

#1 Utah Jazz vs. #4 Los Angeles Clippers

I really like the dynamic of this series.

I did pick both teams to be here but quite honestly was surprised at how much the Clippers struggled with the Mavericks. They have been a great road team so far but they are going to have to win at least one game in Utah and that will be very tough.

The Jazz have such a great team balance. The Clippers refused to play big against Dallas but what are they going to do with Rudy Gobert? He isn’t a huge offensive threat but his ability to get easy baskets combined with his ability to protect the paint may force the Clippers to play Zubac, or Cousins way more than they did against Dallas.

Kawhi will have to be great and I am sure he will be. I like Utah’s overall depth and versatility here and rarely do they beat themselves. The Clippers slip into some bad habits at times and I can see them spoiling a game or two in this series. Get ready for a ton of three pointers and some intense basketball.

The pick: Jazz in 6.