Posted on: May 30, 2010 10:23 pm
Now that we've sat through, what seems like, a 13 month sabattical to finally get to the NBA Finals, it's here. After series sweeps and poor basketball, the conference finals finally brought some life that had been missing to the NBA Postseason. And, honestly, I don't think any basketball fan can be upset with this matchup. Even though the Lakers and Celtics are matching up for what seems, to us small market teams fans, like the 6,000th time in the NBA Finals, they are genuinely the two best teams at this point and two of the best franchises in the NBA (as evident by their 6,000 matchups). Both teams have faced adversity, have won with defense, have won with offense, have coaches who have been there and have players who have been there. This matchup was physical and contested back in 2008 and we can expect the same here. But how did both teams arrive to this point?
The Boston Celtics entered the 2010 postseason on a really sour note. As has been documented, the Celtics were 23-5 after Christmas but then went 27-27 over the next 54 games to stumble into the postseason as the 4th seed. Everything ranging from Doc River's interest in coaching the team to injuries to age had been used as reasons for the Celtics ailments. But a confrontation between Kevin Garnett and Quentin Richardson in Game 1 of the Heat vs. Celtics series highlighted what was a terrific comeback in Game 1 for Boston and they rode that momentum to a very convincing five game series victory over the Heat. Next up, the Celtics were matched up against the team that finished with the best record in the NBA and the team that had the two time defending MVP in LeBron James. Using the same tenacious defense and physical style of play that swarmed fellow NBA great Dwyane Wade, the Celtics contained LeBron as best as any team could possibly do and saw Rajon Rondo step up as the team advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for a rematch with the team that knocked them out of the postseason last year: the Orlando Magic. Like Wade and LeBron, Orlando had its own superstar in Dwight Howard that posted a huge threat to Boston's quest for a championship. But showing the stuff that champions are made of, Boston won both Games 1 and 2 in Orlando and held on to eventually eleminate the Magic on the Parquet in Game 6. The Celtics now enter this postseason looking for their second championship in three years with the starting lineup that Doc Rivers will tell you has never lost a postseason series.
Coming off two Western Conference Championships and after winning their 15th NBA Championship in Franchise History (second only to Boston's 17), the Lakers entered this season as the resounding favorites to repeat; at the very least in the Western Conference. They seemed to coast through the season on talent alone but still managed to establish home court advantage in the Western Conference. Being one of the most decorated teams in NBA history, the Lakers faced a polar opposite in the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder, who were the youngest team, collectively, in the NBA. The Thunder gave the Lakers fits with their athleticism, youthful energy and fantastic home court. The Lakers faced a challenge many didn't think would come so early, but fought it off and eleminated the Thunder in six games. Up next was a familiar postseason foe: the Utah Jazz. The Jazz and Lakers always seem to face eachother in the postseason, and this season the big bodies and matchup advantages that the Lakers possesed helped history repeat itself, as the Lakers managed to sweep Utah in four games and rest comfortably before a matchup with the rival Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals. Even in a tough matchup with a motivated, game Phoenix Suns team, the Lakers looked like champions throughout the series; winning convincingly in Games 1 and 2 and playing a great game of basketball to close out Game 6 in Phoenix. The Lakers look to close the gap between them and Boston in terms of the NBA's greatest franchise (17 championships for Boston to 15 for Los Angeles), and Kobe Bryant looks to add a 5th Championship to his storied career and allow for Phil Jackson to collect his 11th.
How do these teams match up and who has the advantage in what area? That will now be addressed.
Western Conference Champion: (1) Los Angeles Lakers (57-25; 12-4) vs. Eastern Conference Champion: (4) Boston Celtics (50-32; 12-5)
Why The Lakers Will Win: First and foremost, the Lakers enter this series with the Home Court after finishing the season with a better record than Boston. Both teams won on the other's court this season and it's well known how the Celtics were able to take that historic Game 4 at Staples back in 2008, but at the end of the day you'd still rather be the team playing its pivotal games at home as opposed to being on the road. They will still have the best player on the court for the entire series as well in Kobe Bryant. Bryant has shown as the postseason has continued that he's still, arguably, the best player in the Game. In a late game situation, there's no better player to give the ball to. Also, the Lakers have brought in Ron Artest for matchups like this, where they can throw him at Paul Pierce or Ray Allen defensively. Also, this Lakers team is better equipped to match up with a physical Boston team than the 2008 version of the Lakers. Now having won a championship as a team and having been battle tested as a team, there won't be any deer in the headlights looks that the Lakers had in 2008. Also, this is the first series Boston will have where they have to stay in the paint and guard every one of the Lakers big men. Teams like Cleveland and Miami didn't have the front court depth to give Boston's defense fits whereas the Lakers have the size to cause Boston problems.
Why The Celtics Will Win: Every bit of experience that the Lakers bring to the table, the Celtics bring as well. It could be argued that the only reason these teams aren't matching up for a third consecutive Finals is because of the injury to Kevin Garnett last season. The Celtics have shown the last two rounds that home court can be taken with just one victory on the road and they've shown the ability to do that. Even though Kobe Bryant is the best closer in the game, the Celtics have a player in Paul Pierce who is very adept in those late game situations as well: as highlighted in his Game 6 performance against Orlando. Furthermore, this Celtics team is still relatively healthy. They have problems with Rasheed Wallace's back, but everyone else has managed to stay hungry, motivated and on the court for the entire postseason whereas the Lakers have issues with Andrew Bynum that could hinder one of their on court advantages. Also, this Celtics team looks motivated and after knocking out three legitimate superstars in Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Dwight Howard, there's nothing that Kobe Bryant can do that would intimidate the Boston Celtics team.
Key Player for the Lakers: Derek Fisher has managed to step it up offensively when the Lakers have needed him to this postseason, and opposing point guards haven't trashed the Lakers as they did last postseason and all of this season. However, Rajon Rondo is the most difficult matchup in the series. Fisher will either have to guard Rondo or Ray Allen (if Phil decides to put Kobe on Rondo), which are both disadvantages for the Lakers. However, Fisher brings championship intangibles that most teams just can't find and, even just last postseason, Fisher showed that when needed he can still nail the crucial three pointer that can change a series. If his defense is going to be a problem this series, which looks likely, his offense will be needed to offset whatever disadvantage his guarding Rondo or Ray Allen may create.
Key Player for the Celtics: Rasheed Wallace's back should be better by June 3rd and hopefully that shows in his play. He looked really bad in Game 6 against Orlando, but if he's able to go for Boston then he makes all the difference in this Finals matchup. Lamar Odom is one of the toughest matchups in the NBA, but Rasheed Wallace is a player that can keep up with him and guard Odom. Criticized for his play all year long, Wallace has emerged into an absolutely terrific bench contributor this postseason for Boston and has been extremely important to Boston's ultimate success. If Bynum, Pau Gasol or Odom have to guard Wallace out on the perimeter, it opens up the door for players like Pierce and Rondo to get to the basket. If Wallace consistently hits that jump shot, it makes even more of a difference. All in all, Wallace brings the offensive and defensive intangibles off the bench that can offset whatever bench production the Lakers may or may not get on a nightly basis.
Prediction: Celtics in six
Key As To Why They Will Win: Honestly, I'm just a believer. I've picked against Boston all postseason long and, for that reason, Crotch and other Celtics fans probably don't want me to pick them here. But they've really emerged as the best team in the postseason so far. They've faced off against the best players in the league and knocked out two terrific, game Cleveland and Orlando teams. And they did so without home court advantage. Even though I think the subraction of James Posey this postseason from the 2008 NBA Finals matchup is something that some fans may forget, I truly believe Wallace is going to be a huge difference maker off the bench to combat Lamar Odom and, when it comes down to it, the Celtics have shown that they can win pivotal games in hostile territory. And they only need to win one in this series.
Conclusion: This series is a toss up and could really go either way. The two most storied franchises in the league meeting up once again creates for financial interest and also interest from a basketball perspective. There aren't two teams playing better ball at the moment and that's why they're here. After seeing Boston guard Dwyane Wade and LeBron James the way they did, you have to imagine there's going to be plans in place as to how to guard Kobe Bryant. Also, they were able to do it in 2008 and that put a lot of onus on his teammates who just weren't ready for that moment. They may be ready now, but I'm not sure that they're capable of overcomign what Boston does. Paul Pierce, in that 2008 matchup, was the first player I've seen in a long time take it at Kobe and dominate him as easily as Kobe can do to other players. That speaks volumes to his importance in this matchup. It should be a fun series and I wouldn't be surprised if I'm wrong, but I'm a believer. Your 2010 NBA Champions will be the Boston Celtics.
Posted on: May 19, 2010 1:38 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2010 3:17 pm
I figured since I didn't do a playoff preview this season for each team as I did last year, I'll do a fun little countdown to this year's draft, since that's where my team is going to be instead of the postseason. Well now that we got our debates about whether or not 2007 was worth the #9 selection, I'm going to give in to my loyal readers and say I was probably wrong by putting the 2007 draft so low. I was so deadset on proving that it was a bad draft, that I let some really bad drafts off the hook. Be that as it may, I stand by my journalistic pride and proclaim that this draft was better than 2007, regardless of what I'm about to say. But here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the number 8 draft on our list is the 2006 NBA Draft which features some really bad trades (sorry Chicago and Minnesota fans), really questionable selections (I'm looking at you Atlanta) and overall, just not a deep talent pool.
Top Ten Drafts of the Last Ten Years
2006-2007 NBA Rookie of the Year: Brandon Roy
2006-2007 NBA All-Rookie First Team
Tags: 76ers, Adam Morrison, Andrea Bargnani, Bobcats, Brandon Roy, Bulls, Carlos Boozer, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chris Quinn, Clippers, Craig Smith, Daniel Gibson, Derek Fisher, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, J.J. Redick, Jason Kidd, Jazz, Jordan Farmar, Jose Juan Barea, Josh Boone, Kenyon Martin, Kings, Knicks, Kyle Lowry, Lakers, LaMarcus Aldridge, Leon Powe, Magic, Marcus Williams, Mardy Collins, Mavericks, Nets, Nuggets, Oleksiy Pecherov, Pacers, Patrick O'Bryant, Paul Millsap, Pistons, Rajon Rondo, Randy Foye, Raptors, Renaldo Balkman, Rockets, Rodney Carney, Ronnie Brewer, Rudy Gay, Ryan Hollins, Sergio Rodriguez, Shane Battier, Shannon Brown, Shelden Williams, Steve Novak, Thabo Sefolosha, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Tyrus Thomas, Warriors, Wizards
Posted on: April 21, 2010 4:59 pm
Watching the playoffs always brings up memories of what you used to watch and enjoy in postseasons past. Only being 22, my earliest NBA Finals memory dates back to what I consider the greatest NBA Finals series I've ever seen, the New York Knicks vs. the Houston Rockets in 1994. But my peak playoff observing years didn't really happen until around 1998 or 1999. so to give the best comprehensive list I can, I'm doing off the top of my head and putting in order the top ten postseason moments of the last decade. Now this can be at any series (first round, semifinals, conference finals and NBA Finals) and I'll date them to allow for more clarity on certain topics. Hopefully fans from all teams will remember in agony, remember in bliss or us fans who cheered for teams without much postseason memories of the decade can remember moments that, even though we had no emotional attachment, just made us say "wow." So here it is, GoHornets21's Top Ten Postseason Moments of the Decade.
Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire, Baron Davis, Ben Wallace, Bulls, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chauncey Billups, Derek Fisher, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Eddie House, Heat, Kings, Knicks, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, LeBron James, Manu Ginobili, Mavericks, Nets, Pacers, Paul Pierce, Pistons, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Rockets, Shaquille O'Neal, Spurs, Stephen Jackson, Suns, Tayshaun Prince, Tim Duncan, Warriors
Posted on: June 1, 2009 1:13 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2010 2:43 am
After correctly predicting the NBA finals in my review of the conference finals, I find it important that I hurry aboard to try and keep up my good name by predicting the NBA Finals. In all honesty, I couldn't be happier with this matchup. Not only did I pick it, these, in my opinion, are the two best teams that the NBA could offer at this point. Both of these teams have faced adversity. Both have taken shots in the media and Stan Van Gundy and Pau Gasol have been the most critiqued figures in the media since the postseason started. But how did they get here?
Key Player for the Magic: Rafer Alston has been really hit or miss this entire postseason, as well, but when he's been on, the Magic have won. Point guards have given the Lakers trouble all postseason and Alston isn't the most talented player at his position, but is a quick and smart player at the point guard position. His shot has been really streaky and sometimes he takes ill advised chances on the offensive side of the basketball, but if can keep his head in the game and knock down open jump shots then he can be a huge difference maker for the Magic. Derek Fisher has had a hard time on defense this postseason and has struggled with his jump shot, so this is a prime opportunity for Alston to take advantage of that and thoroughly outplay Fisher. If he does that, then the Magic will have the advantage to the championship.
Tags: Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bynum, Cavaliers, Celtics, Courtney Lee, Derek Fisher, Dwight Howard, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, Jazz, Jordan Farmar, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Lamar Odom, LeBron James, Luke Walton, Magic, Mickael Pietrus, Nuggets, Pau Gasol, Rafer Alston, Rashard Lewis, Rockets, Sasha Vujacic, Shannon Brown, Shaquille O'Neal, Thaddeus Young, Trevor Ariza, Yao Ming
Posted on: May 18, 2009 12:36 pm
After a passable second round, the playoffs look to get exceptionally exciting with two very tough matchups. I will start off by saying that I really went back and forth on both series and can't get a good feel on either one, which speaks to how competitive these should be. Let's get to it.
Eastern Conference Finals
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (3) Orlando Magic
Why The Cavaliers Will Win: The Cavaliers enter this series on a roll that is out of this world. After winning their first eight games of the postseason, they've run an incredible wave of momentum right into this series. Everyone across the board is contributing and they've gotten an absolutely magnificent showing from LeBron James so far this postseason. I imagine they'll continue to get great production from LeBron but the defense will be key. And if you're going to rely on defense, being the number one defensive squad in the league helps in that department.
Why The Magic Will Win: The Magic look like a confident bunch. No team has been scrutinized more, outside of Los Angeles, than this Orlando squad. However, the coaching squad and players have responded to criticism and have shown the ability to win crucial games on the road (winning games 1 and 7 in Boston, and winning critical games 4 and 6 in Philadelphia). Dwight Howard is a matchup problem for anybody in this league, but with the Cavaliers he should look to have his way around the basket. Anderson Vareajo can't sporadically give him fits with his ability to draw chargers, but Ben Wallace hasn't received any playing time and I can't imagine him being fresh enough to check Howard. Even if he is, the offensive holes with him in the game will be glaring. When that happens, the Cavs become too one dimensional (go to LeBron and spot up).
Key Player for the Cavaliers: Mo Williams hit some big shots in game 4 against the Hawks but he's struggled with his shot this postseason. If he plays at the level he did during the first two series then Rafer Alston will be able to match him. Williams needs to convincingly take Alston to the limit at that position in order for the Cavaliers to win this series.
Key Player for the Magic: Courtney Lee will go unsung, but his defense on Eddie House against the Celtics was huge. He was big in the 76ers series and although he's lost his starting spot, he stopped a critical role player and I imagine he'll be asked to do the same against Delonte West. West has had a very good postseason thus far and if he continues to excel it's a huge feather in the cap for the Cavaliers. However, if Lee can have West struggle with his jump shot, it can further discourage this squad and have them defer to LeBron too often.
Prediction: Magic in seven
Key As To Why They Will Win: Dwight Howard will be the critical factor in this series and I imagine he's going to have a field day in the paint. This was not a problem for the Cavs in earlier series, but a severely injured Al Horford and a three point friendly Rasheed Wallace aren't necessarily intimidating presences.
Conclusion: I had these two teams in the conference finals before the playoffs started, and I picked the Cavs to win it. I have no reason to back away from that precition now. However, I'm riding the Magic bandwagon and really feel as if this team plays great ball together. I could really fall on my face with this pick as I've rode the Cavs bandwagon all year, but I'm jumping off for this series. It's not a matter of what the Cavs can't do, they've proven they can play with anybody in the league. This is all about what the Magic are doing. They've blown teams out, won tough games, faced adversity and overcome obstacles. The Cavs could be riding momentum, but no team should be as confident as the Magic are. That convincing victory in Boston for game 7 should give the Magic the confidence to win a seventh and final game in Cleveland.
Western Conference Finals
Tags: 76ers, Al Horford, Andrew Bynum, Ben Wallace, Carmelo Anthony, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chauncey Billups, Chris Andersen, Courtney Lee, Dahntay Jones, Delonte West, Derek Fisher, Dwight Howard, Eddie House, hawks, Hornets, J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, LeBron James, Magic, Mavericks, Mo Williams, Nuggets, Pau Gasol, Rafer Alston, Rasheed Wallace, Rockets
Posted on: March 24, 2009 11:46 pm
Edited on: March 24, 2009 11:47 pm
Previous Team: Cleveland Cavaliers - http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
Well now that teams are clinching divisions and spots in the postseason I thought it would be cool to go ahead and preview each team that is going to be a part of the 2009 NBA Postseason. I will do one for each team as they clinch a playoff spot and since we already have teams that have clinched, we will start with them. Now we will continue with the team with the best record in the Western Conference: the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers also throw two fantastic man defenders at you in Trevor Ariza and Kobe Bryant. Their defense as a real is hit and miss, but in crucial situations when they need to get a stop, they can rest knowing that they have two of the best that can at least slow down the opposing team's best wing man in critical times. Another thing that helps the Lakers is their sense of continuity amongst one another. This is a confident bunch that feeds off of the (I mean this in a good way) arrogance of their team captain. Kobe Bryant's never say die attitude feeds over to the team and they can really feed off of that.
Also, their defense is very inconsistent and always seems to pose a problem at inopportune times. Especially on the road, the Lakers really struggle to get a groove on the defensive side of the ball which puts a lot of pressure on the offense. The Lakers are very weak inside the paint which encourages a lot of players to simply play hard down in the paint on them. We saw it in last season's NBA finals, Pau Gasol isn't stopping anybody around the basket. Andrew Bynum is the best down low threat that they have on defense, and with his knee injury you don't even know if he'll be at enough strength to make much of a difference.
Why They Will Win It:
Why They Won't Win It:
Coming up next: the Boston Celtics.
Posted on: February 16, 2008 12:53 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2008 9:33 pm
I figured the all star break is the best time to reflect at all preseason comments and predictions .. so why not take this time to boast .. brag .. make fun of myself and shake my head at all that I said before the opening tip off of the 2007-2008 season.
We will start with the Western Confrence.
1) San Antonio Spurs - this was real close between them and Phoenix but I do believe that staying pat was the right thing for them to do. Their age, though, may come into question when the playoffs start.
I still agree with that and feel that keeping the team as was was the smartest thing to do. Only time will tell if they'll win but because of the Lakers and Suns trade my predictions were thrown out of whack. I, though, do like the Spurs over both of them at this current time. But as you'll soon see .. my predictions don't stand for much.
2) Phoenix Suns - As much as I've criticized them for their lack of defense there isn't a team that plays with more heart than this one. A very good team full of good character players. I'm not going out on a limb .. but I am saying they're my pick for champs this year.
I hate that I picked them to win it all. It goes against my "Defense wins championships" motto .. but I figured they'd come in with a huge chip on their shoulder after last season. Maybe the Shawn Marion trade demands hurt the team more than I thought it would .. but they look a lot more fresher with him out of there. I don't think they'll win the title now but I have them as probably the 3rd best team in the west.
3) Houston Rockets - Yes I do have them ahead of Dallas. I absolutely loved the moves that they made in the offseason and if Tracy McGrady's brittle back can hold up and if Yao can stay on the court (huge if's) they could be a sleeper to really make some strides this year. But because of the injury history .. I'm taking a chance by placing them this high.
Ugh. I hate Houston and always criticize their moves but I bought into the hype. All offseason I said Van Gundy was so much better than Adelman and that firing him was a mistake .. but then they made the transactions they did and I bought the hype. I back off of those current statements though they'll still make the playoffs. I still don't think they'll make it out the 1st round though.
4) Utah Jazz - I do believe that Deron Williams is a player with a huge upside and I could go on for days about how much I love Carlos Boozer and his style of play. I'm not a big fan of Mehmet Okur though .. and even though I am a huge fan of Andrei Kirilenko .. I'm wondering how he'll really adjust this season .. not only because of last year's dissapointment but also because of the offseason issues.
I pretty much agree with all of that5) Dallas Mavericks - I know I'm giving them a huge drop off .. but I see it in order. I'm really confused with this team because they have the most talent but I don't think they play with enough heart. Not that they don't play hard every night .. but when things get rough .. fingers start getting pointed .. excuses start being made and unfortunately that's not the way to handle situations. It's cost them the last two years and I don't see why things would change.
I agree with all of that as well.6) Denver Nuggets - I like A.I. and 'Melo together .. but there's still not much about this team that scares me. A.I. reverted back to his old ways in the playoffs .. and just because he notches assists doesn't mean he seamlessly gets his teammates involved. Carmello is a nice talent but I think he's better as a second option type.
I still pretty much agree with this .. though I hope they're the team that doesn't make the playoffs.7) New Orleans Hornets - I know this may be viewed as a homer pick but I don't believe that it is. They have a ton of talent and the addition of Morris Peterson is huge for the team as he's someone that not only plays tough defense but also stretches the opposing defense with his shooting and tough nosed play. The team usually gets hit with injuries every year .. but if they can somehow avoid it this year then a trip to the playoffs is in order, I believe.
I caught a lot of flack for putting the Hornets in the playoffs .. but everything I felt was justified. They're playing good now and should finish a bit ahead of this 7th seed .. but barring some huge collapse .. they should still be in.8) Golden State Warriors - I don't believe that they're a fluke .. but they are what they are. They're not better than last year because they gave away Jason Richardson. Baron Davis is great .. but he's also been one with huge injury problems. The team plays hard .. their fans are great .. but they didn't get any better than last season so I see them right where they were.
I still think they'll finish in the lower seedings in the West so I like this pick. Only problem is I called Jason Richardson their best player.9) Los Angeles Lakers - Regardless if Kobe gets traded or not .. I don't see them making it. This is just not a good team .. there's no type of frontcourt .. and though I love Derek Fisher I don't see how he makes them that much better. I expect a drop off from a team that's, believe it or not, overachieved the last couple years. Lamar Odom has put up good numbers but sometimes you forget he's even out there.
I deserve a lot of flack for this one. I said they had no front court (Andrew Bynum), I said they wouldn't make the playoffs (and then called them a championship contender in this blog), and I called them a bunch of overachievers. Whoops.10) Portland Trailblazers - A team well on the right track to something special. The injury to Oden really hurts the team .. and though they have promise they're still a year or maybe even two away in my estimation. I love Nate McMillan as a coach though.
I think that turned out pretty fair.11) Memphis Grizzlies - They did the right move in kind of reshaping the team .. but they just seem so bland to me. I don't have any reason to get excited about facing them (with the exception of Pau Gasol) and I don't really know which direction this team is heading in. They'll be better than last year .. but after last year's abysmal season .. that's not saying much.
I agree with that. Though I should have placed them lower.12) Los Angeles Clippers - The loss of Elton Brand kills them .. and after last year's sky high expectations .. they're reverting back to the same ol' Clippers. They've turned into a dissapointment again .. and this is another team where I'm just not sure in which direction they're going.
I agree with that still.13) Seattle SuperSonics - A very talented team. At the same time .. a very young team. I think they will be good in due time but not as quickly as Portland will be. Durant's exciting .. as is Jeff Green but I'm interested to see how Carleisimo handles the team because he's had a history of not handling young players well. And that's all this team is.
I like that prediction as well.14) Sacramento Kings - Mike Bibby has fallen off of the face of this Earth. He must have held on for dear life and brought Brad Miller down with him. This team is looking like another stale 33 win season .. or even worse .. and it won't be because of Theus. I like him as a coach but this is not a good situation. I look for at least Bibby to be traded by mid season .. if not Artest and/or Brad Miller as well.
Well I was calling for total rebuilding for them but they've turned out a solid team this year. Though .. I don't see them as a championship contender the way they are .. and even if they stay pat .. they may make the playoffs next year but they won't make any noise. They still have to make some moves to get back to the Kings of old.15) Minnesota Timberwolves - At least they're not stuck in the "stale/bland" situation that I've labeled the Lakers, Grizzlies, and Kings with. There's no hiding that they're rebuilding .. but as a result this year will be VERY tough. As will next year, more than likely, .. and I don't like Randy Wittman as a coach. They may be on the right path .. but they're right at the starting line. It may be rough for them this year.
I still agree with that. And then I made my playoff predictions.
I have backtracked my statement of Suns beating the Spurs in a seven game series .. and though the Rockets could probably beat the Nuggets in a seven game series .. they're not gonna play them in the 1st round so .. still on the outside looking in as far as the semifinals is concerned.
Oh but if you thought that was bad .. wait until you get a load of my Eastern confrence picks.
I will warn you to take my predictions with caution .. because my predictions for the 04-05 Pacers, 05-06 Pacers, and 06-07 Nets have not gone as planned. So this year's prediction (the Wizards) must immediately put a hit out on me .. or hope that they can break the mold.
1) Cleveland Cavaliers - In a wide oppen Eastern Confrence .. I'm going to go with the only team that can have eleven average players and one fantastic one .. and still manage to win. This is the East's version of the L.A. Lakers .. what helps them out is .. they play in the East. I'm a big critic of LeBron's and thinks he gets a little too much attention (as far as the media is concerned) .. but that's my only gripe and his play is undeniable. I think he's eclipsed Kobe Bryant as far as single best player in the NBA. It's fair to say they won't get the number one seed but they'll still be a really good team in the East. I was a little premature in calling LeBron better than Kobe, though.2) Boston Celtics - I do believe that they will be a good regular season team. Danny Ainge got people to care for this team again and for that deserves a pat on the back. Other than that, though .. I don't see them winning the title or even making it to the finals .. because none of the "big three" know how to win. They're all career losers (for a lack of a better word) and where's the help going to come from?
I still kind of agree with that though I was kind of harsh calling them all losers. I don't think they'll win the championship (I don't know why it's just a gut feeling I've always had .. but I had that same feeling about the 05-06 Heat) .. so who knows what's going to happen.3) Chicago Bulls - A team that is right on the brink but doesn't have a big man that can score. They have so many pieces in place .. but for some reason I just don't see hwo they can win a championship. It's hard to explain .. I just don't see the "it" in them. I believe Ben Wallace is past his prime .. and who knows how the team is going to react to everyone being on the trading block this offseason.
I was half right and half wrong on this. Right when I said I didn't know how the team was going to react to everyone being on the trading block .. wrong when I said they would be a top tier team in the East.4) Washington Wizards - My pick for the East is this team right here. I don't know why .. since they can't play defense to save their lives .. but I love Gilbert Arenas and have a man crush on Caron Butler. Jamison is playing in a contract year (as is Arenas) and I see huge production out of those two. They play a lot of offense and very minimal defense .. and that will bite them when they play the west teams. Lucky for them .. they don't play the western teams until possibly the finals. So I'm giving them the dreaded vote of approval to win the East.
I don't know. I look at my prediction and still don't see anything dreadfully wrong with it .. but they just have become bland to me. I no longer look at Arenas as an elite player .. I think he's more infatuated with himself than he is winning .. but they may still make noise in the playoffs when fully healthy. The problem is .. they're never fully healthy.5) New Jersey Nets - This team is sort of bland. Jason Kidd is great .. but Vince now has his contract .. and Jefferson's injury history has taken away a lot of his play .. to me anyways. They still don't have a frontcourt .. and after Kidd .. their toughest player, Mikki Moore .. left. So they will drop off in my estimation but will still be good enough to get the fifth seed.
Ehh .. I kind of foresaw the decline of the team but I had them at 5 which turned out to be too high. I also had them ahead of ..6) Detroit Pistons - My how the once mighty have fallen. Speaking of bland teams .. this is right up there with them. They've taken steps back in all positions .. mostly because of age. Flip Saunders has waisted the last two years with the Pistons .. and unfortunately they just don't seem to play as motivated as they did before. Nothing on this team excites me (except for Tayshaun Prince) and Billups and Hamilton both took drastic steps back in their game last year.
I'm eating serious crow pertaining to the Pistons and the Lakers. I can't say anything except for I was wrong .. and putting the Wizards, Nets, and Bulls ahead of them looks horrendously idiotic now. I still think Saunders will find a way to blow it in the playoffs, though.7) Toronto Raptors - I'm a big fan of Toronto but don't see where they wind up stepping above anyone I've placed before them. I like T.J. Ford and absolutely love Chris Bosh .. but the loss of Peterson hurts them. They got great chemistry and I see them possibly moving up from this spot up to possibly even the second seed .. but I can't get a handle on them and don't think they'll win the division.
I still feel that way about them. They're better than seventh but I still have a hard time getting a feel for them.8) Orlando Magic - I pondered them and the Heat .. but I figured I'd go with the younger team that actually has a bit of excitement to them. They overpayed immensely for Rashard Lewis .. and I'm not sure that Jameer Nelson is the guy at point guard. Who knows what happened to J.J. Reddick .. and Turkoglu is as streaky a player as I've ever seen. But Dwight Howard himself should will this team to the playoffs .. but I don't see them making much noise when they get there.
I still don't see them making it deep in the playoffs .. but they're better than eighth. Who knows what they'll do when they make it though.9) Miami Heat - I'm probably making a mistake by not putting them in .. but Dwyane Wade will be starting this season on the injured list. Shaq is also a year older .. and boy did he look sad at times last year. He's not at all the player he once was .. but that happens to everyone. It's just he's been "invinceible" for so long that to see him deteoriate like that really shocked me. This is a team on the downside.
This is a team on the downside. Unfortunately .. I don't regret not putting them in the postseason and they've declined so rapidly that they can't even sniff the playoffs. Even in that pathetic eastern confrence.10) Atlanta Hawks - I really like this team but I just can't put them in the playoffs this year. Joe Johnson is fantastic .. and the potential .. the players .. it's there. They strike me as an Eastern version of Portland .. and I guess it's a coincidence I placed both them and Portland in 10th in their respective confrences. Josh Smith is great as well .. and the two rookies were smart picks .. but I don't know how it will all come together. I wouldn't be shocked if they made the postseason though .. and if things keep on the right path .. they should make it by next season.
I stand by that. I hope they make the playoffs though.11) Indiana Pacers - Speaking of how the once mighty have fallen. I don't think the trade with Golden State killed them last year .. but they did take a raw deal. Jermaine O'Neal is the only player on this team that would really scare me. Other than that there's not much to them .. and O'Neal himself isn't guaranteed to play half a year with his past injury history. Who knows what direction this team is going to go in.
I still stand by that. I caught a lot of flack from Pacers fans for this pick too. Other than hurricane .. none of them are anywhere to be found any longer.12) Philadelphia 76ers - I like this team and want to think that they'll build upon how they did without Allen Iverson last year .. but I don't see that happening. Andre Igoudala did great last year .. but I wonder if he'll be able to surpass that this year .. which he'll need to do to get this team in the playoffs. Andre Miller is one of the best pure point guards in the league because of his passing ability .. but that's basically all he's got is his passing.
I'm content with that.13) New York Knicks - I don't like to put them so low but .. man I don't like the Randolph trade. Now they have two carbon copies of basically the same player with Zack Randolph and Eddy Curry. The only difference is Randolph can kind of pass out of the paint (and Curry can't pass at all) .. but who do they pass it out to? Jamaal Crawford, Stephon Marbury, Quentin Richardson, and company are only streaky at best. And though I want to be wrong here because I really like the guy .. I don't see how much Allan Houston can do for them. And on a side note .. man how bad do the Jared Jeffries and Jerome James signings look?
I look like a genius with that pick.14) Charlotte Bobcats - I keep wanting to move them up but just can't. I actually am one of the few who liked the Jason Richardson deal because it gives them a player who can score now. But losing Sean May (AGAIN) for the whole year hurts .. Okafor's not very dependable as far as staying on the court is concerned (fouls and injuries) and Raymond Felton is a good player but not a good shooter. All that factors into another bitter season for them .. which will probably start frustrating the fans.
I still stand by that. I do hope they make the playoffs though.15) Milwaukee Bucks - I want to put them up here and I will probably get flack for putting them so low but the drafting of Yi Jianlin made no sense to me and I don't know how Maurice Williams will play now that he's got his contract. On the flip side .. he did turn down Miami to stay here .. so maybe I'm making a mistake by questioning his drive. Michael Redd is fantastic .. but he's a one trick pony. He just shoots. He's great at what he does .. but I think he's a tad overrated as far as his salary is concerned.
I still stand by that as well. And then I made my playoff predictions in the East.
I had a lot of people telling me the Bulls wouldn't beat the Pistons in a seven game series and they all were right. I don't know what I was thinking with Suns and Wizards .. I now would take a safe pick and predict Spurs-Celtics in the NBA finals .. but overall I wasn't horrendously bad in my pre season predictions. I had some foreshadowing in there and some bad decisions (Lakers, Pistons) .. but overall I thought it was OK. It's always fun to look back and see what you got right and wrong though .. and I'm not as stupid as I sound sometimes haha. Take them for what they are .. these are GoHornets21's preseason predictions revisited.
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