A Conference Final by any other Name…

The real meat of the NBA season is officially under way! The dead weight has been cut away and left behind with just the cream of the crop ready to battle it out for the right to call themselves a champion.

With the first games already over and done with the analysts are kicking their projections into full gear. Since their doing it…what the heck, why not me?

Right now I want to talk about the Western Conference. These guys definitely gave us an extremely entertaining end of the season with final playoff positions coming down to the wire; nothing sucks more than having nothing but worthless games to watch in the final stretch of the season (right, Cleveland?). So for those guys the playoffs really began a few weeks ago when those teams were to trying to jockey for final playoff positioning.

Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder fights for the ball with Ron Artest  of the Los Angeles Lakers during Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs on April 18, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Most Potentially Exciting First Round: Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder– In L.A. you have the defending champion and the unexpected upstart. L.A. should be here while those silly Okies should have been in the bottom of the barrel. With the surprisingly strong play of second year player Russel Westbrook and the dominating play of Kevin Durant the Thunder have the talent to bring down the defending champions if L.A. is not careful.

Biggest Expectations: Dallas Mavericks– if these guys don’t make some serious noise this year it will be a big disappointment. The Mavericks have been on the verge of greatness for years, but have always fallen flat in the playoffs. The playoffs have been their second home since the turn of the millenium, but since reaching the Finals in 2006 Dallas has been kicked out in the first round twice. With the blockbuster trade that lead to an incredibly hot second half of the season, expectations are high; anything short of the Conference Finals will be a disappointment.

And the two teams in the Conference Finals will be…

Dallas and L.A.- not just because these guys are the #1 and #2 seeds, but because they are the best in the conference by far. Sometimes you will see an upstart knock out a favorite (just ask Kentucky and Kansas fans), but this year it will not happen. Both of these teams are simply to darn good not to make it.

And the winner is…the Dallas Mavericks. L.A. is looking tired and I think the Thunder are going to push these guys to the extreme. They will have enough gas in the tank to take their semi-conference match up, but when they get to the Conference Finals against Dallas they are going to be too tired to keep up with the likes of Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, and company.

Beer: Pro-Am 2009 from the Southern Star Brewing Company in Conroe, TX- what the guys at Southern Star are doing is really cool. The plan is to take a home brewer’s recipe and produce it on a mass scale.

The lucky winners for the first go around were Mark Kizer and Scott Wells of Austin, TX. Their brew has a unique flavor that comes from a combination of the usual suspects as well as a special blend of spices. Considered a Saison style beer, the Pro-Am 2009 is a unique combination of flavor and drinkability that folks will enjoy as they watch Dallas beat up on anyone and everyone. At 7.2% ABV, Laker fans will be able to drown their sorrows with ease.

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