Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The Clarion Content's Sports Editor is excited because it is easy to write a short and sweet NBA basketball preview this year. There are only five teams with any shot at contending for the NBA title. In the East the contenders are: the Boston Celtics, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic. In the West, it is the Los Angeles Lakers or the San Antonio Spurs. It says here that the winner of the Western Finals is going to take the crown. The West is beating the East.
The Celtics are going to be dragged down by Garnett's body betraying him, even with point guard Rajan Rondo excelling. It will not be enough, Ray Allen is another year older, too. Getting 'Sheed helps Boston, but he is aging and slower as well, unless Garnett finds the fountain of youth, the Celts can't go the distance. The Cavs have the best player in the league, LeBron James. Despite King James's superlative efforts, it is simply not physically possible to win it alone in the NBA. Long Shaq supporters, the Clarion Content has been losing faith lately. How will an aging, immobile Shaq handle playing second fiddle? Our fear is that this isn't the same Shaq that D-Wade got to play with, that Shaq had a bit more left in the tank. The Orlando Magic are the wild card. We cannot believe that Vince Carter will suddenly morph into a successful, driven NBA basketball player. We have followed from him from Chapel Hill to Toronto to East Rutherford, why now? But if somehow it did happen... If the light went on and it clicked for Vince, the Magic would have to be the favorites in the East. Right now, we see them as the third fiddle.
The West is where it is at! Firstly the defending champs, the Lakers, play there. Second Tim Duncan has a lot more left on the odometer, than the other big guy with four rings on his fingers, Shaq. Ginobli's heath is a big concern for the Spurs.
We have been waiting for months to say it, but we believe that Ron Artest is a down grade from Trevor Ariza, Lakers fans! Ariza was unstoppable off the dribble, shooting lights out from 3 point line, comfortable being low on the totem pole. Artest is crazy and high maintenance. Heck, he hadn't even played a game and he had already introduced Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian. Excitement happens around old Ron Artest, just not the good kind. Plus his offensive game has deteriorated with his foot speed. He is also no longer the lights out defender he once was. Kobe, as dedicated and determined as he is, has played 200 plus games in the past two seasons.
Conversely, the Spurs got way better in the off-season, in addition to getting a long rest when they lost early. This year, Richard Jefferson was the NBA acquisition of the off-season, he can light it up from 3 or off the dribble. He hustles, is willing to play defense and comes with minimal ego and baggage. Jefferson is far easier going, for example, than the already bitching Andre Miller in Portland. Jefferson had to put up with prima donnas J. Kidd and Carter in the swamps of Jersey and he was a huge success. The Spurs also added the most NBA ready rookie this side of Blake Griffin, Pitt's DeJuan Blair, and they hoovered up veteran Antonio McDyess for big man depth. Look out!
The Spurs look like the pick from here. The Lakers will push them to the brink in the Western Conference Finals. A couple more quick hitting predictions: the Knicks will win no more than 35 games. The Nets are never moving to Brooklyn. The Timberwolves will be better than people think, perhaps even stealing the eight seed in the ultra-competitive West. Comeback we are most excited to see: Gilbert Arenas with le Bullet. Comeback we are least excited to see: Greg Oden with the Portland Milktoasters.
Need more? Bill Simmons done wrote a terrific in-depth NBA column in two parts. Click here. Just because we came to similar conclusions doesn't mean we copied or worked together, it may just be the thinking on a pretty obvious season that is likely ensue.