im not sure, id say the spurs are basically out of it, but if the lakers were knocked out before the spurs had to face them, i wouldnt discount duncan, he played the lakers very close and the kings and mavs will not be able to defend him near as well. the mavs still have to learn how to play defense, i like them having van exel on the team the whole season, nash was exhausted by seasons end last year, being replaced for periods of time by van exel will help him loads come playoff time, a healthy adrian griffin gives them some defense, and who knows maybe dirk will be swatting everything that comes in the lane next season. the kings might be a clear cut choice, but they still arent a godo defensive team, and they only have one guy who has proven he can hit a shot down the stretch, if webber could step it up and play better late in games theyd be almost a lock, still need another body to throw at shaq though, divac and pollard are nto enough. the lakers, i dno, 4 in a row just sounds too good, they kept george, and they still haveall the key pieces to the puzzle, but they looked a lot more mortal against the west last year then in years before. all depends on shaq.
so my pick is............. Spurs, claxton and parker are a great tandem at the point, and duncan is the best player and second most dominating player in the league, he finds a way to get it done.