LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have topped the West all season, and now they're closed on Milwaukee Bucks for the best record in the tournament. LA Clippers, meanwhile, has prioritized load management over winning all seasons but still leads a bit ahead of Denver Nuggets for the No. 2 seed in the West.
Is Denver the biggest title candidate outside of Los Angeles? Which teams are the biggest threat to a Lakers-Clippers Western Conference final? Our experts answer the biggest questions and make their daring predictions about possible Western playoff teams.
LEARN MORE: How many real title candidates are in the East?
1. Fact or Novel: Denver is the most legitimate Western title candidate outside L.A.
Kirk Goldsberry: Fiction. Do you want to be legal? Take a look at Oklahoma City Thunder, who has performed best in the Western Conference since December 15 (October 29). How is it legal? Thunder has the best knack for playing in clutch situations. As Royce Young pointed out a few weeks ago, Thunder's five-hour crisis (Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams) is currently the best squad in the tournament. That group is overcoming rivals 30 points on 100 properties, and is leading this team to a big win like the victory coming from behind in Boston on Sunday afternoon. Do you know who wants to see Chris Paul and Thunder in Round 1 or even Round 2? Nobody, who it is.
Kevin Arnovitz: Fiction….
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