Thursday, March 6, 2008

Around the NBA: Playoffs

Well, with the playoffs coming fast, it is time to seperate the contenders from the pretenders. I'll start with the West and the Phoenix Suns. The Suns went from being a contender to a pretender in my mind. The Shaq trade is really hurting them as they are not able to spread the defense like they used to be able to do. Now, the Dallas Mavericks, I'm not entirely convinced they have what it takes to be a contender right now either, right now they are on the bubble of being a pretender. The Houston Rockets went from being pretenders to contenders very quickly, winning a franchise high 16 games in a row. The top teams in the West right now are the Spurs, Lakers, Hornets, and Jazz, all of which have championship caliber teams. Although I think the Hornets will need a little more experience before they make it to the big one.

Now on to the East, the very weak East. The only teams that are contenders in my mind are the Celtics and the Pistons. I know what you're thinking, "What about the Cavaliers?", right? Well as they really only have one good scorer in LeBron James, they don't have what it takes to be serious contenders at this point in time. But the Pistons and Celtics on the other hand, for the Pistons, Rasheed Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, all proven players. And for the Celtics, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Sam Cassell, and James Posey have the experience to lead this team to the big dance.

The East seems like it will be a two team showing between the Pistons and the Celtics. In my opinion, the Celtics have the better team and will go on to win the Eastern Conference and go on to the NBA Finals.

There is one team that could shake up the East a bit that not alot of people are giving credit to, and that is the Orlando Magic. They hold two wins over the Celtics the season already. Another team that could be trouble to the top teams in the East is the Toronto Raptors, they are very young and are stacked with talent.

Back to the West for a quick minute, there is one team that has the power to stir up the Western Conference quite a bit too, and that being the Denver Nuggets. Currently holding on to the 9th spot in the West, they are rapidly gaining ground on the Warriors and may even replace the Suns in the play-off picture if the Suns don't turn the heat up.
As the play-off race begins to heat up, this looks like to be the most exciting road to the play-offs in recent memory, and the play-offs themselves look like they are shaping up to be really good themselves.
My predictions for the NBA Finals is going to be a classic match up between the Lakers and the Celtics, with the Celtics taking #17.