|Posted by shawn cassidy on October 30, 2012 at 12:10 AM|
I guess it's time to take a stab at my predictions for the NBA. So let me dive into.
1st) Boston Celtics 61-21
Rajon Rondo's MVP bid weighs so much on the top record. But more importantly, the top seed has proven to be crucial for the Celtics. Losing game sevens(2010 Finals, 2012 ECF's) on the road can't happen anymore. I think this years team comes out of the gates similar to the 2010-11 team. But this team has better depth so I believe they sustain the top record.I feel like the Celtics can create issues for most of the top teams, and their able to counter the Heat. Boston can throw many guys at Wade, and Bosh. James on the other hand can win games by himself.
2nd) Miami Heat 59-23
The Heat will feel some championship hangover I believe. Teams will be gunning after them every single night. Teams will want to play even harder against them. Even though the Heat have two of the best players in the world. I think their depth isn't very strong. I also see Wade in, and out of the lineup because he seems to have injury issues every season. To be honest, either the Celtics or Heat will be the top seed. I don't think the Heat run away with the top spot, but if the Celtics remain healthy, and if Bradley, and Wilcox come back as strong as before. The Celtics will have the best record. Let's bring up the depth once again. Ray Allen won't be 100% this season, and Lewis is a shell what he once was in Orlando. Battier is a year older, and Mike Miller was considering retirement. The Celtics are much younger in the best way possible, and the Heat are older in the worst way possible.
3rd) Indiana Pacers 53-29
The Pacers are scary, and they give some of the top teams matchup problems. But the Pacers lack a superstar. They have a team, and a team that flows together very well. But the need for one guy to take over a game is obvious in Indiana. The Pacers are just good enough to place third against other teams with stars.Granger the guy who has potential to be a bigger star may deal with season long knee problems.
4th) New York Knicks 51-31
The Knicks already enter the 2013 season without Amare Stoudamire. But they have enough fire power in the East to wait for Stoudamire. Will Amare return healthy enough? I don't know, but I believe the Knicks have a good enough defense to help them survive. The Knicks are in search for that turnaround season. They've lost in the first round for two years in a row. I think this year they have a chance to make it to the second round, but they'll lose to the Celtics, or Heat in the second round.
5th) Chicago Bulls 47-35
Without Rose(until winter 2013), the Bulls go from contenders to mediocre team in the East.The Bulls have a great defensive coach, and that should save them at times in the season. Rose won't come out like gangbusters in February, and their is talk of shutting him down for the entire season. I think he'll return. Even if he comes out like an MVP. I think the Heat, and Celtics have enough to beat the Bulls.
6th) Brooklyn Nets 44-38
The Nets have two stars on their roster, and that should be enough to get them a spot in the playoffs. Joe Johnson had other All-stars in Atlanta to assist him, and in New York he has Deron, and some other solid guys like Gerald Wallace. I think the team in Atlanta was better, and in Brooklyn it's hard to say how well the team will mesh.
7th) Atlanta Hawks 42-40
The Hawks will be without Joe Johnson, and the load will be on Josh Smith, and Al Horford. Smith will be put in a superstar role, and it's time for him to take over. I have dreams of Rondo, and Smith running on the Garden floor someday. But in the meantime the Hawks have some depth, and they have two All-Star caliber players. Bottom line I'm very curious to see Smith as the focal point of this team. They can be a spoiler.
8th) Philadelphia 76ers 39-43
The 76ers have gotten BIG. Bynum has yet to hit the floor with 76ers. And I don't know how Doug Collins will use him. The 76ers lost their franchise player Andre Iguodala, and they lost Lou Williams. I'm not sure what will happen to this team when Bynum comes back. I don't see them advancing to the second round this season, and I wouldn't be surprised if they miss the playoffs.
Conclusion of the East Predictions:
The Boston Celtics are built to beat the Heat. The Celtics need to shutdown Wade, and Bosh when the time comes. They need to take a page from the 2008, and 2010 teams that beat James in the playoffs. James is a better player now up stairs. But the talent around him is older, and I think the Celtics want it more this season. James has the monkey off his back, and the hangover syndrome could set in. This season is championship or bust. Last season the Celtics were clearly the beaten down underdogs, and they had no business beating the Heat. The Celtics had the opportunity to, but the Celtics were without Bradley, and Pierce plus Allen were battling some tough injuries.
I can't say it enough, but the Celtics have enough to counter every contending team that stands in their way.
The Western Conference
1st) OKC 59-23
The Thunder made a big trade on the eve of the season. It's hard to say how much it's hurt them. They brought in Kevin Martin who can score in bunches. But he's been very one dimensional throughout his career. The Thunder still have two mega stars, and I still think that's enough to carry them to the top record in the West.
2nd) San Antonio Spurs 57-25
The Spurs have been the best regular season team for the past few seasons, but their unable to return to the Finals. The Spurs have one of the best coaches in the league, and they have the same formula year after year. I think the Spurs have a strong regular season, but I think they fall short in the playoffs once again.
3rd) LA Clippers 55-27
The Lakers, and Clippers battled back and forth for the top record in LA last season. I think the Clippers have better depth, and I think they create issues for every team in the West. The Clippers are deep at every postition. They added Jamal Crawford, Odom, Hill, and Matt Barnes. The Clippers give the Lakers matchup issues, and I think their underrated.
4th) LA Lakers 55-27
I give the Lakers, and Clippers the same record. I think the head-to-head will go the Clippers for the better seed in the playoffs. Yes the Lakers have added Nash, and Howard. But the star power is bright and shinny, and the media tells us they'll be great. Nash is past his prime, and he's still a top point guard in the NBA, but can he play 82 games this season? No way, and can Kobe? Kobe's entering the season hurt, and thank the USA team for that. The other question is how well will Pau, and Howard mesh inside. Gasol hasn't been the same since playing game seven against the Celtics in 2010. Gasol has still been very good, but he lacks that dangerous mindset.I think the hype is taking away from the Thunder, and Clippers in the West.
5th) Memphis Grizzlies 51-31
I like the Grizz, but I don't think they did enough in the offseason to make the next step in contender status. Memphis reminds me of the Pacers of the East, they can put some fear into the top teams, but they don't have that one guy to take them over the top.
6th) Denver Nuggets 48-34
The Nuggets obviously improved their roster. They brought in Iguodala, and I think for the first time in his career Iggy doesn't need to shoulder the load. Iguodala fits the mold for George Karl's team. I think the Nuggets can surpass some of the top teams, but guys need to step up like Gallinari.
7th) Dallas Mavericks 45-37
The Mavs will start the season without Dirk, but I think the Mavs will hang in. Some believe the Mavs will miss the playoffs, but I give them the benefit of the doubt. Dirk will come back, and help them make the playoffs.
8th) Houston Rockets 43-39
The Rockets have recently improved their roster by adding James Harden. The Rockets also added Jeremy Lin who has a lot to prove. The success of the Rockets weighs on Lin. I think the Rockets are a work in progress, and if they add another All-star type they may improve down the road.
Conclusion to the West Predictions:
I'm going with a shocker here. I think will see The Celtics, and Clippers battle in the NBA Finals. I like what the Clippers built last year, and they added a ton of talent to go with it. The West as a conference is deeper then the East. The Celtics are here to win this year, and they'll be raising that banner a year from now.