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Trail Blazers Guard C.J. McCollum Previews Western Conference Finals

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Portland guard gives us a pro's preview of the Houston and Golden State series

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Player's Tribune has another article written by our own C.J. McCollum:  The Pro's Preview: Western Conference Finals.

In it he writes about his gut reaction, what to watch for, what he's learned from playing these guys, and who wins it.

I'm going to be honest. It kind of kills me to watch playoff basketball right now. It's tough to see Houston in the Western Conference Finals when we beat them last season but they earned it! Every time I tweet something about the playoffs, I get the replies like "Have fun watching from the couch!"

Jeez, man.

His reaction is not too surprising in that he thinks the games will be good examples of uptempo basketball.

Lace up your Nikes tight. This is going to be like an open gym game. Both of these teams like to play at a fast pace and shoot a lot of 3-pointers.

McCollum says that the defensive matchups will be the most intriguing thing to watch for in this series.  Who on Houston will cover Curry and who on Golden State will cover Harden?

He's learned from playing both these teams that it's no easy chore trying to stop either one of them.

The biggest thing you learn from playing against a team as good as the Warriors is that you absolutely cannot fall asleep for a second on defense.

CJ also has some suggestions for Kevin McHale on how to slow down Curry and it'll be interesting to see if his ideas are in the tool box of the Houston coaching staff.  He notes that the Rockets can score lots of points themselves, especially James Harden with his ability to get to the free-throw line.  He believes that Josh Smith is an X-factor for Houston:

They're a different team when Josh Smith is able to handle the ball and make good decisions. He deserves a lot of credit for turning his game around this season — he's shooting 37% from 3 right now, and his ability to make that lob pass to Dwight Howard in pick-and-rolls is a big asset.

Who wins the series?

It takes a very disciplined, focused team to beat the Warriors at their own game. I don't think it's going to happen this season. . . .  Warriors in 6.

This article was posted on the Player's Tribune site before Game One.  He also posted a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals before Game One.  Read it here.