I really should have published my NBA playoff prediction post right before the playoffs started, but things have pretty much played out as I thought they would and it looks like the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavs are headed to a rematch in the Finals. That is what a predicted in the pre-season and I’m sticking with that, although I would concede that each team could face some serious challenges along the way. However, baring the loss of a key player to injury, I don’t see either teams being defeated within their own conference.
Archive for the 'Pro Basketball' Category
Tags: NBA, Podcasts, Sports
In a few prior posts on this blog I have written brief reviews for Podcasts that I listen to regularly and enjoy. I haven’t published a Podcast related post recently, but remain a avid fan of podcasts. I now listen to more podcasts now than I ever have have previously. Going forward I am going recommend specific podcasts from my favorite podcast hosts that I have enjoyed and found informativerather than just write a general post about a particular podcast.
Here are two Podcasts from last week that I enjoyed:
March 13, 2017: The Joe Rogan Experience #930 – Guest: Will MacAskill
March 17, 2017: The Bill Simmons Podcast, Ep 189 – Guest: Steve Ballmer
Tags: NBA, NBA Finals
The NBA has already started and I need to get my predictions in before I’m influenced by the first few games of the season. This year I’m just going to make predictions for the conference champions, NBA Finals, MVP and Coach of the Year. I can’t remember a year when I had a harder time making NBA predictions. I really don’t think there is too much separating the top 8 to 10 teams in the league and I also think that there are at least 5 or 6 truly exceptional players that are poised to have great seasons and that will be in the hunt for the MVP award.
Eastern Conference Champion: Chicago Bulls
Picking the Eastern Conference Champ was not quite as difficult as the picking the Western Conference Champ, but it was still hard because the top two teams are very close imo. I picked the Bulls to win the East, but I think the Cleveland Cav’s are potentially the better team, but that they may lose more games during the regular season because it may take a little longer to fully integrate a team that has many new players and a new coach, but once they fully adjust to playing together, look out! I think the Bulls and the Cav’s will be on a collision course when the playoffs arrive.
Western Conference Champion: San Antonio Spurs
There are probably at least 4 or 5 teams capable of winning the West and I would certainly include San Antonio, the LA Clippers, the Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks in that group. I would have also included the OKC Thunder had they not recently lost MVP Kevin Durant and All-Star G Russell Westbrook to injury for an extended period. The temporary loss of those two players will prevent the Thunder for challenging for the best regular season record in the West, but if they both come back healthy that team will again be very dangerous in the playoffs.
NBA Finals: Chicago Bulls vs Los Angeles Clippers
Why did I pick the LA Clippers to make to the Finals over the Spurs and the other strong teams in the West? I think the Clippers added several valuable pieces in the offseason
NBA Champion: LA Clippers
What? The Clippers as Champs!?! Hey, believe it, it could finally happen.
MVP: Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate last season, although I would agree that he was significantly behind Durant and James. I don’t think that will be the case this season.
Coach of the Year: Doc Rivers
Right before the playoffs started and in the preseason as well I predicted that the Miami Heat would meet the OKC Thunder again in the Finals. Of course, I made that prediction based on the assumption that both teams remained healthy and didn’t lose any star players to injury. Unfortunately, the Thunder lost All-Star guard Russell Westbrook in the first round of the playoffs and that pretty much ended any hopes they had of advancing to the Finals. I didn’t think OKC would get past the 2nd round without Westbrook and that is indeed what happened, as they lost to Memphis in the 2nd round.
So, now we have Miami vs Indiana and San Antonio vs. Memphis.
Frankly, I don’t see how any of the remaining teams defeat the Miami Heat in a 7 game series.
I’m sure Indiana will put up a good fight against the Heat, but I don’t think they have enough offensive firepower to overcome Miami. Indiana plays very solid defense, as the NY Knicks found out, but they don’t have scorers that can match MVP LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen.
Spurs vs. Grizzlies should be a real dog fight. I think that series goes six or seven games. I’ve gone back and forth on this series, but I now think the Spurs will win. Can either Western team beat a healthy Miami Heat team? I don’t think so, but it should be fun watching them try.
The NBA off season seemed to fly by pretty quickly, but that is OK with me. I’m very much ready NBA hoops again. This post is a few days late. I normally try to put prediction posts before the season begins, but I got sidetracked with a few things this week, including watching coverage of Hurricane Sandy and the election campaign, among other things. However, I think I can honestly say my predictions have not been influenced very much by the first few games we have seen so far.
Coach of Year: This a very tough award to pick because there are usually several strong candidates. I’m going am tempted to go with Erik Spo of the Miami Heat, but I’m not sure he will get the recognition he deserves because the Heat are so loaded with talent. I’m going to pick Frank Vogel, of the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers are a young up and coming team and Vogel did a very good job with them last season. If the Pacers exceed their win total from last season and go deep into the playoffs I think Vogel will be recognized and win this award.
Rookie of Year: Anthony Davis, NO Hornets. Looks like this will be race between Forward Anthony Davis and Portland PG Damian Lillard. Both are and should be outstanding this season. Close call, but I will go with Davis because I think his all-around stat’s may be a little bit better in the long run.
Sixth Man: Jason Terry, Boston Celtics. James Harden would have been the obvious choice for this award, but his trade to Houston and new starting role take him out of consideration. I’ll go with Jason Terry, who is a proven scorer and should receive a lot of minutes with Boston this season. I think Terry will be a very important contributor to the Celtics this season. Of course, I won’t be surprised if any number of other players win. There are so many talented 6th men in this league and once Harden was elevated to be being a starter with Houston this award was put up for grabs.
Defensive POY: Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers. I’m going out on a limb here, but I think Hibbert has a shot because Dwight Howard may not be 100% this season, coming off his injury from last season. Look, this award usually goes to a center or power forward who racks up a lot shot blocks, fair or not, that is just the way it is. The last pure guard to win this award was Gary “The Glove” Payton in 95-96. So, it will probably be a big man who can block quite a few shots and ideally one who is on a good team that will make the playoffs and do some damage. Several good big men will likely fall into category this season and I count Hibbert among them.
MVP: Kevin Durant, OKC Thunder. Of course LeBron James is the favorite for this award and justifiably so after leading the Miami Heat to a championship. The only player that seriously challenged James for the MVP award last year was Kevin Durant. I picked Durant to win the MVP award last year and I am doing so again this year because I think Durant is once again the only player that can seriously challenge LeBron for the MVP award. It should be a two man race between them again. However, with the Thunder trading star the OKC Thunder will be more dependent on Durant then the Heat will be on James because.
Eastern Conference Champion: The Miami Heat. This was not a difficult choice. The Heat added a few new weapons, most notably SG Ray Allen from the rival Celts. The Heat’s Big Three (James, Wade & Bosh) are healthy and in their prime. LeBron James will probably have another year that merits MVP consideration. Wade and Bosh will join LeBron on the All-Star team again. Will other teams in the East push the Heat this season? Probably. I expect the Knicks, Celtics, Bulls and Pacers all to be pretty good and you can probably throw a couple of other teams in there too, but none them will have the firepower to defeat the Heat the playoffs.
Western Conference Champion: OKC Thunder. The Thunder may not win as many games during the regular season as they did last season because of the loss of star Sixth Man James Harden. I think it is very possible that one to three teams in the West may win more games in the regular season than the Thunder, but I think Thunder will emerge as the Western Champ’s in the payoffs. Why? Because by the time the playoffs roll around I think the Thunder coaching staff will have made adjustments to compensate for the loss of Harden to a large degree. Moreover, the youth of the Thunder will give them an advantage over their rivals by the time the playoffs. The Lakers and Spurs both look dangerous on paper, but I think they may be a little too reliant on older players who may fade come playoff time. Other up and coming teams, such as the LA Clippers and Memphis will be good, but not good enough to overtake the reigning Western Division Champ’s. Dallas should also be good, but I don’t think they can take the Thunder this year.
NBA Champion:I think the Heat will meet the Thunder again, in what could become the defining rivalry of this era in the NBA. Heat vs. Thunder could become like the Celtics and Lakers during the 1980’s. I reluctantly picked the Miami Heat to the win championship last year. I really wasn’t a huge fan of the Heat going into last season, but I thought that their talent, combined with the lessons they learned from losing to the Dallas Mavericks the year before, would make them very difficult to stop last season and they were. Now this Heat team has learned how to win a championship, and they want more. They are older and wiser, but not too old. The young Thunder team will also come back wiser and more experienced, but I think the loss of James Harden will put the Thunder at too much of a disadvantage to a team with as much firepower as the Heat. I think the Thunder will win championships at some point in the future, just not this season.
The U.S. Men’s Basketball Team is
dominating, barely beating*, the competition in London and the comparisons to the original 1992 Dream Team have become inescapable in recent weeks.
*U.S. 99 – LITHUANIA 94
Many fans, myself included, have debated which “Dream Team” is better, the 1992 original, which was the first to feature a roster comprised of NBA stars, or the latest version, featuring many of the NBA’s best current players.
Let’s look at the rosters of the two teams:
C-David Robinson 7-1
C-Patrick Ewing 7-0
PF-Karl Malone 6-9
PF-Charles Barkley 6-6
PF-Christian Laettner 6-11
SF-Larry Bird 6-9
SF-Scottie Pippen 6-7
SF-Chris Mullen 6-7
SG-Michael Jordan 6-6
SG-Clyde Drexler 6-7
PG-John Stockton 6-1
PG-Magic Johnson 6-9
Head Coach-Chuck Daly
C-Tyson Chandler 7-1
PF-Kevin Love 6-10
PF-Anthony Davis 6-10
SF-LeBron James 6-8
SF-Carmelo Anthony 6-8
SF-Andre Igoudala 6-6
SF-Kevin Durant 6-9
SG-James Harden 6-5
SG-Russell Westbrook 6-3
SG-Kobe Bryant 6-6
PG-Chris Paul 6-0
PG-Deron Williams 6-3
Head Coach-Mike Krzyzewski
I first became a serious NBA fan when Magic Johnson and Larry Bird entered the league. I have remained a serious NBA fan since the 1980’s, so I am very familiar with the players from both teams.
So, which team do I think is better? Well, here is my two cents…
I think 1992 team would win if the teams played a seven game series on a neutral court, but it would be competitive. I think it is ridiculous to assert that the 2012 could not defeat the 1992 in even a single game. I could easily see the 2012 team winning 2 or 3 games in a 7 game series.
I think the 1992 team has a big advantage at the Center position and at Power Forward.
I’ll give the 2012 team a slight edge at the Small Forward position.
I think the 1992 team gets the edge at both the Shooting Guard position and Point Guard position imo.
Just a couple of months ago I thought there was a real possibility that the NBA season for 2011-2012 might be cancelled and although I’m a huge basketball fan I wasn’t all that upset about the prospect of that happening. Why? Because I found it hard to care very much about the Billionaires vs Millionaires battle that the Owners and Players were waging. If they wanted to blow away a season away I figured I’ll just watch more college hoops, which I also enjoy quite a bit.
However, I can now admit that I’m glad that the Owners and Players settled their differences and I’m looking forward to the start of the 66 game regular season on Christmas Day. Basketball is my favorite team sport and the NBA, for all its flaws, showcases the best players of the sport, by far.
I took a look at ESPN.com’s NBA page earlier today and noticed that 30 of their Basketball writers and analysts made predictions for this season’s MVP, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man, Defense POY, Coach and Rookie of the Year. Here my picks for those awards:
MVP: 12 members of the ESPN staff picked Kevin Durant, 11 picked LeBron James. I think there are a good half dozen players capable of winning the MVP, including Derek Rose, Chris Paul and even Blake Griffin. This is a very tough call, but I think Kevin Durant wins it this season.
Most Improved Player: I’m going with Tyler Hansbrough. I think the Pacers PF showed a lot improvement toward the end of last season and he will continue to get better.
Sixth Man: James Harden of the OKC Thunder. Harden received the most votes from the ESPN staff, with 11, but several others players were in the mix. I can’t disagree with the Harden pick. He’s tough on both ends of the court and is a key contributor to a team which should contend for the crown this season.
Defense POY: Dwight Howard. I also like Chicago’s Joakim Noah too, for his shot blocking ability, but Howard is still the best all around player on D in the league imo.
Coach: I have to select the coach of a team that I think will make it to the NBA Championship round and that would include the OKC Thunder. I’m going with Scott Brooks.
Rookie of the Year: The ESPN guys favor Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams, giving them 11 votes and 8 votes, respectively. 5 other rook’s received votes, including Kemba Walker, Ricky Rubio and Jimmer Fredette. This pick is a toss-up for me. I don’t think there is one stand out favorite. I will go with Irvin, but I won’t be shocked at all if another rookie wins. I don’t think Jimmer Fredette will be the best rookie this season, but I think he will be very good and the most fun to watch. In the preseason he has already demonstrated that he has no problem hitting the NBA 3 pt shot and we will see a lot of scoring from him.
Eastern Conference Champion: The Miami Heat. Chicago and New York will push the Heat to the brink, but the Heat still maintain a slight edge with Wade, James and Bosh.
Western Conference Champion: The Oklahoma City Thunder. I probably would have picked the Dallas Mav’s if they had retained the services of center Tyson Chandler, but he was a big loss, especially on the defensive end of the court. Picking up Lamar Odom certainly helps the Mav’s, but not enough to surpass the young and talented Thunder squad in my view.
Champion: The Miami Heat. I hate making this pick, but I have to if I’m going to be honest. I don’t think this will be the beginning of a dynasty, but this “Dream Team” should be good for at least one ring. If they fail to win a championship this season then they should trade at least one member of their vaunted big three.
*If Dwight Howard is traded to a contender I may have to revise some of my picks.