Based on what we currently know about each team's roster and potential signings, it's obviously tough to call. But, I think it's not impossible and far-fecthed to give good predications. I think that there are only a few potentially impactful free agents left for contending teams to pick up. For instance, Miami still needs a legittimate big man & Greg Oden could be the answer. He's a big question mark as far as health is concerned & his current skill level is questionable with the missed time coming into consideration. But, if he is anything that he was in his 82 games for POR, I think that that could be huge and signficant enough for Miami to 3-peat. Otherwise, I don't expect them to go back to the Finals. They do have the best player, but as a team, they were further exposed in the playoffs and proved to be beatable. I think a lot of teams worried about their chances due to Miami's incredible season, but that was short lived once Indiana pushed them to an unxpected 7 games. Furthermore, the Spurs had the beat if it weren't for a few miscalls from Popovich and the refs.
Aside from Miami, I expect legitimate contenders to be the Spurs, Warriors, and Clippers out West and the Nets, Bulls, Pacers in the East. I leave out the Thunder because they haven't made a significant off-season move. They lost Kevin Martin, and don't really have the firepower outside of KD & Westbrook. Those two players, alone, normally would be reason enough to consider them, but the more competitive teams have gotten stacked on paper where as the Thunder have lost some weight. Also, I've never really trusted them as a playoff team to begin with. Last summer's run was undeniably impressive, but they weren't consistent by any means. Their half-court offense was atrocious then and still is. They have no low post presence and that is believed to be the key to even threaten Miami, who is now 7-1 against them in their last 8 games, each being by significant deficits.
On another note, I want to consider Houston, if and only if Dwight Howard comes into this season healthy. I expect him to be and to also come full equipped with an offensive moveset that he hasn't had before. He'll have more time with Hakeem than the lone week he previously celebrated and his coach is Kevin Mchale, a man that showcase the arguably the most impressive postwork the league has seen and the one who helped shift KG wimpy first 2 seasons into a 20-10 machine. Also, we need to look out for the chemistry between Howard & Harden. Analysts have hailed it to be a match made in heaven, but all is not guranteed. Personally, I think that it'll be diffcult with Asik still in the mix. We'll see though.
ECF Matchup - Nets vs Bulls
WCF Matchup - Clippers vs Warriors
Finals Outcome - Nets vs Clippers
What do you think is so wrong with the Thunder? They were the best team in the west last season and very well could have been a Finals team if Westbrook had been healthy. They are certainly a legitimate contender. I would be shocked if the Warriors, Pacers, or Nets are as good as OKC next year. People are sleeping on the Thunder big time. They should be just a nose behind Miami as chamiionship favorites next year.
Seriously i only really read the clipps win the whole thing, before i wrote my 1st post then b-ball fan you pointed out the thunder being left out and i went back and read his whole analysis. I dont understand why the thunder losing k-mart is such a big deal? He was inconsistent through the whole season. Who needs to pull off huge off season moves? The thunder with westbrook being healthy and maybe adding a healthy orton to their line up are still the contenders for the bet in the west. The best union of young talent in the league.
Okay i see you bought into the warriors hype, but let me point this out just as much as westbrook struggles to be consistent so does curry, barnes, and thompson who all have had their patches of bad shooting nights, and they dont stop shooting. Westbrook can compete with curry and create havoc once he easily gets past curry in the paint. Durant and thabo neutralizes iggy, barnes, and thompson. Ibaka, perkins, lamb and the rest of the thunder contend with bogut, lee and the rest of the warriors. Seems like a good match up thats why i cant write off the thunder.
Whats with the clippers hype? Clippers were on the ropes in the 2012 playoff, and a win is a win but the grizz started shooting too much and went away from their bigs which allowed the clipps to win that 1st round series. This year the grizz pounded the post and showed as long as you have a pg that can at least fight with chris paul and have a advantage in the post you can dominate the clipps. I believe the clipps may get the 3 or 4 this year but if the spurs or grizz get the opposing seed in the 1st round the clipps go home again in the 1st. I am basing my position off their post presence is weak.
Blake gets undeserved superstar attention with starting the all star game when truly he is just a highlight player who is respectfully a good player, but his skills are not good enough to win in a match up against another elite power forward in the west.
Dj is the most over payed guy in the league and a highlight back up who can easily be dominated by atleast half the centers in the league. In the western playoff considering teams who will and could make it he would be beat thoroughly by duncan, both gasol, dwight, javale, well with javale its a toss up between dj's horribl offense and javale's decision making, pekovic would dominate him, he cant contend with perkin's toughness through a playoff series, bogut would also out tough him.
Their frontline is not enough to get them over the hump. What are these hidden details i cant see that have people believing the clipps can win the championship? Get to the 2nd round i can definitely see and possible western conference finals depending on matchups that are favorable to their front line maybe, but seriously i am sure i am not missing anything. Is it the doc rivers signing? He is one of the best coaches in this era of basketball, but im not sure him being their will awaken some invisible skill in dj that makes him put up numbers comparable to his contract and finally hit some free throws. I think he could have a significant affect on blake, but he is still a couple years away from what the clipps need him to be to be contenders.
First off, I appreciate the lengthy replies from that few that I did get them from. I saw that I got -10 though. In my defense, these are simply predications. But to further that, I think that they are reasonable considering the summer moves made. The Clippers have made moves that should put them in a better position next year. It's not ridiculous to factor in the addition of Doc Rivers. From what we've seen & heard, he is definitely one of the best coaches in the league. Vinny Del Negro was good, but not great and simply didn't do enough to help the team mesh well. Considering that, and the injuries that hit them last year, the Clippers should be a better position with the additions of J.J. Reddick, Jared Dudley, & especially Darren Collison. I really don't know how two great shooters and an excellent backup point guard being additions to a team that lacked consistent shooting goes unoticed and/or underappreciated. I fully expect Doc to help get Blake & DJ more organized, at least on the defensive end. Again, this is a prediction. But, it is not far-fetched or outlandish. The playoff setting isn't simply about a "match up against another elite power forward." These off-season additions, especially Doc Rivers coaching, is to help this team become more team-oriented. In the half-court, L.A. lack the players to compliment CP3 in that setting. I fully believe that there won't be as many isolations and that the offense will be ran much more efficient. They should see defensive improvement as well. So cut the ignorance in asking, "What's with the Clippers hype?" It's not necessarily hype. It's higher expectation. Last year's team was all hype after throwing all those alley-oops, going up 2-0 in the first round and then getting outclassed/outcoached to get swept in the last 4 games.
Second, I'm not hoping on a bandwagon with the Warriors. I'm purely being logical in considering the moves that they've made. They added an elite defender & all-around player in Iggy. He should help open up more opportunities for the best shooter in the league, along with the additional ammo in Klay Thompson. Part of the Warriors problem last year was that they didn't have enough spacing & ball movement to adequately oppose the Spurs. Jarret Jack shot well, but he was equally as much as black hole on offense with the horrific iso sitations given to him. Having Iggy changes that dynamic. Also, they'll should a healthy David Lee ready to return and an improved bench with the additions of Toney Douglas and Jermaine O'Neal (a solid big man that plays good interior defense and can give Bogut significant breathers.)
Third, the Thunder were the best team in the West by record alone. If I'm not mistaken, San Antonio rested their starters in some key games that could've changed the final standings. The thing that I think is wrong about the Thunder is their coaching. We all know that OKC can run through the season, but it's a different story when playing in the playoffs. In those last few games against Houston, although Houston was no pushover, OKC made some bad decisions that brought that series to 6 games when it shouldn't have gone that far. The Grizzlies dominated them inside, for the most part, and exploited their half-court weaknesses even more than they had in the regular season with Westbrook. Yes, having Westbrook completely changes the outlook on this team, but it's not a two-man game. They made it to the Finals last year with 3 guys playing at peak levels. They don't have that this year. All isn't definite, but it's not such a sure thing for me to say that they're Finals favorites. That's simply a safe pick. Things have gotten much more competitive.They will be great, but I don't think it'll be in the scope that people had for them last year with a more stacked Western Conference.
Lastly, I never said that the Clips will win the whole thing. I didn't even mention who will win.
Why not. Please don't go too crazy over these predictions, it's too early.
ECF 2nd round: Heat vs. Nets, Bulls vs. Pacers
WCF 2nd round: Spurs vs. Rockets, Thunder vs. Clippers
ECF Finals: Heat vs. Bulls
WCF Finals: Spurs vs. Thunder
NBA Finals: Spurs vs. Bulls
Spurs in 6.
As much as I respect the Heat, let's not forget that their role players are another year older and another step slower. The Thunder are going to be just as good, though they might be missing K-Mart if Lamb doesn't fill his production. Rockets are a team to watch out for, even if they seem somewhat shallow. The Clippers did get deeper, and Doc will help as coach. I expect them to be a legit contender, even if some of the players don't complement perfectly. The Spurs will be hard to stop if the the big 3 play to similar form as last season, considering the youth will develop and they have a 2nd bench playmaker in Bellinelli. The Bulls will be incredibly difficult to score on, and if Rose comes back to at least 80%, I think they'll be a tough team to beat.
You could have maybe one of those teams right, perhaps all, but you have more of a likelihood to have all 4 teams wrong. I think the Bulls have the best shot to make a conference finals out of all the teams chosen. I didn't read most of the post, but did LeBron James and Kevin Durant die in some plane crash or something in this scenario? The Spurs are old, but also, not dead. Leonard will continue to improve as well. I would still give a slight edge to the Pacers over both Bulls and Nets. It will be interesting to see what the Warriors look like but you have Houston with their own big acquisition as well. I think Jack and Landry will truly be missed. Clippers- Blake/Jordan duo not ready, if ever, to make a conference finals, not a fan of their games. Nets- average age of starting 5- 32. Young studs in the East will shred through their D, and a rookie head coach. I wouldn't make picks this early but if I had to:
ECF: Heat vs. Bulls
WCF: Thunder vs. Houston
Finals: Heat over Thunder
No problems here with your predictions, they're your opinion, I can't hate on that. Note: At this point in his career, I don't think Greg Oden will be the key factor for Miami's 3-peat. They're pretty much set as they are.
Now I had an issue with one of your facts. "Miami, who is now 7-1 against them in their last 8 games, each being by significant deficits." I went back 9 just to include the entire 2012 season instead of capping it at 8. After all, the 8th was only a week after the 9th, it should be counted. Here are the scores
Mar 25 2012 103-87 Thunder
Apr 4 2012 98-93 Heat
Jun 12 2012 105-94 Thunder
Jun 14 2012 100-96 Heat
Jun 17 2012 91-85 Heat
Jun 19 2012 104-98 Heat
Jun 21 2012 121-106 Heat
Dec 25 2012 103-97 Heat
Feb 3 2013 110-100 Heat
Clearly Heat have own the series yes, but significant deficits? Really? Average score there is 101-98 Heat. Heat have an average margin of victory of 7.5, with 5 wins by less than 6 points. /rant
My way-too-early 2013-14 playoff picks:
W2nd: Thunder over Rockets, Warriors over Spurs
E2nd: Heat over Knicks, Bulls over Pacers
WCF: Thunder over Warriors in 5
ECF: Heat over Bulls in 6
Finals: Heat over Thunder in 6