NBA Season Preview

Eastern Conference:

Atlantic Division

1. Boston Celtics – Return the same team that battled the Heat to seven games. They replace Ray Allen with Jason Terry as their spark off the bench.

*2. Philadelphia 76ers – Made a huge splash with the Andrew Bynum trade. There bench is much improved with sharpshooters Dorrell Wright and Nick Young.

The Andrew Bynum pickup will give the Sixers the low post threat they have been missing.

*3. New York Knicks – There is a lot of scoring and depth, but the lack of defense will continue to keep this team from being special. (MS)

*4. Brooklyn Nets – The first year in Brooklyn will bring a playoff appearance, but unfortunately that appearance won’t last long. (MS)

5. Toronto Raptors – Jonas Valanciunas, their top pick from 2011 will make his debut and help Bargnani up front. Their backcourt has a new look as Kyle Lowry will start at the point and Jose Calderon will be the sixth man.

Central Division

1. Indianapolis Pacers – They surprised everyone last season as they became a contender. With an excellent front court of West and Hibbert they must find someone to replace Darren Collison at the point.

*2. Chicago Bulls – They take an obvious hit with Derrick Rose out, but if he returns later on, the potential is still there for a deep playoff run. (MS)

Due to this injury in the playoffs, the Bulls will be without Rose until March.

3. Milwaukee Bucks – Explosive back court of Jennings and Ellis but somewhat weak in the front court.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving is slowly climbing the ranks of point guards in the league but he needs some help around him.

5. Detroit Pistons – They are starting to piece together a solid squad, but mo town needs to show patience because they are still a few years away.

Southeast Division

1. Miami Heat – LeBron finally got his elusive championship; and he, Wade, and company are positioned for a repeat. (MS)

Now that LeBron has the title monkey off his back, he is hungry for more.

*2. Atlanta Hawks – They went 40-26 last year mostly without Al Horford, so his presence this season should provide a boost. (MS)

3. Orlando Magic – Its transition time in Orlando now that Howard is in LA.

4. Washington Wizards – A Bradley Beal, John Wall backcourt has the Wizards fans excited.

5. Charlotte Bobcats – After 7 wins last season it can’t get much worse. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will be one to watch in Charlotte.

Matt’s Eastern Conference Playoff Teams

1.Miami*
2.Indiana* – They are ready to take the leap to a division title, with some help from a Rose-less Bulls team
3.Boston* – Even with age and the loss of Ray Allen, the Celtics are still the favorite to win the Atlantic.
4.Atlanta
5.Philadelphia – They surprised many last year, but should be able to build on success this season, especially if Andrew Bynum’s health can hold up.
6.New York
7.Chicago
8.Brooklyn

East Finals: Miami vs Indianapolis

East Champion: Miami

East Finals: Miami over Chicago (MS)

East Champion: Miami (MS)

Western Conference:

Southwest Division

1. San Antonio Spurs – As long as they have Duncan, Parker and Ginobili and sprinkle in young talent they will be a contender.

*2. Memphis Grizzlies – A very exciting team to watch, but must keep Gay and Randolph healthy.

*3. Dallas Mavericks – Two years removed from a championship the window is closing for them, as age and health have become a bit of a concern. (MS)

4. Houston Rockets – With the addition of James Harden they can battle for the 8th spot.

5. New Orleans Hornets – Everyone is excited to see how Anthony Davis’s game translates to the next level.

Can Anthony Davis’s play translate to the NBA level?

Northwest Division

1. Oklahoma City Thunder – Every major piece returns from last year’s Western Conference championship team, so another run at the title is in store. (MS)

*2. Portland Trail Blazers – LaMarcus Aldridge must put an average team on his back.

*3. Denver Nuggets – They’re solid if not spectacular, and George Karl seems to get every ounce of talent out of his teams. (MS)

4. Minnesota Timberwolves – Certainly a sleeper, especially with Love missing some early action, but they showed enough flashes last year to sneak into this spot in 2012-13. (MS)

Can the T-Wolves hold down the fort until they get Love back?

5. Utah Jazz – Have added some Williams (Mo and Marvin) to a solid front court of Millsap and Jefferson. They could battle for the 8th spot with good health.

Pacific Division

1. Los Angeles Lakers – Even with some health issues early on, this All-Star cast should propel them to the top spot out West. (MS)

The Lakers made a splash acquiring Howard and Nash. Will it lead to a title?

*2. Los Angeles Clippers – The little brothers of the Staples Center will be a tough out again this year. They need a good run in the playoffs to sway Chris Paul to return next year.

3. Golden State Warriors – The Warriors have made a commitment to Steph Curry, now its his turn to get them to the playoffs.

4. Phoenix Suns – No Nash, but Beasley and Scola could provide some excitement in the desert.

5. Sacramento Kings – DeMarcus Cousins is a monster down low, but they need the guards to produce.

Matt’s Western Conference Picks

1.LA Lakers*
2.Oklahoma City*
3.San Antonio* – Like fine wine and certain cheeses, the Spurs just keep getting better with age.
4.Memphis – The core of Gasol, Gay, and Conley has been steady, and if Zach Randolph plays a full season they’ll be in the hunt in the Southwest.
5.Denver
6.LA Clippers – Griffin/Paul Year Two should be fun to watch, and adding oldies Lamar Odom and Grant Hill adds some depth.
7.Dallas
8.Minnesota

West Finals: Oklahoma City vs San Antonio

West Finals : LA Lakers over Oklahoma City (MS)

West Champ: Oklahoma City

West Champ: LA Lakers (MS)

 NBA Champion: Miami over LAL (MS)

NBA Champion: Miami in 6 games

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