For those who know me, it goes without saying that I am a huge Warriors fan. I bleed Blue and Yellow. And after last year’s incredible playoff run late in the season and heartbreaking loss to the Jazz in the second round, I’m excited the NBA season is finally here. It represents not only a chance at redemption, but also a chance to prove that last year was no fluke. Does that mean I think the Warriors are good enough to win the championship this year? No. But I will definitely have the time of my life watching them try. Ok, having given my shameless Warriors for Life plug, I will now focus on the teams that are most likely to win the championship.
The Wild West is likely to live up to its name this year. There is so much talent that any of the 6 or 7 teams could make it to the NBA Finals.
1. San Antonio Spurs: This team can be a little dated and boring to watch compared to some of the run-and-gun teams in the West, but with Parker, Duncan and Ginoblli healthy, the Spurs are going to be tough.
2. Phoenix Suns – After his second NBA MVP award in as many years, Steve Nash appears poised to orchestrate another deep playoff run. Maybe this year the Suns won’t be cheated out of a Western Conference championship by Robert Horry’s low shooting.
3. Denver Nuggets: The return of Kenyon Martin will bolster this team’s championship chances. With four star-caliber players in the starting lineup, Melo and company are doing well. I just hope that they can transform into the team that they are capable of being.
4. Dallas Mavericks – The Mavs had a record year in 2006-2007, winning 67 games and losing a mother 15. So the question is whether or not Dirk can live up to his potential, leave the boy group and finally win – in the playoffs that is.
5. Houston Rockets – Two words – Yao and McGrady. If these two can stay healthy, the Rockets could go all the way. They have a decent supporting cast. Now it’s up to the stars to act.
6. Utah Jazz – The Utah Jazz are a well-balanced team. They play good defense and can score. With Boozer and Deron Williams becoming perennial star types, the Jazz could match the spot in last season’s Western Conference Finals.
The East is a different story. There are a host of good teams, but only a few notable teams that could possibly challenge the Western powerhouses for the title.
1. Detroit Pistons – The Pistons are talent and experience personified. They have a deep lineup with all the makings of a champion team. Sure, Rasheed Wallace is getting a little older and he didn’t play his best last year, but with Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton at his side, the Pistons are as good as anyone in any conference.
2. Boston Celtics – Can the Celtics return to their winning tradition? If you think otherwise, you are a complete buffoon. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are the most skilled trio in the league. All they have to do now is create some team chemistry and they have the NBA Finals written all over them.
3. Chicago Bulls: Ben Wallace, Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Tyrus Thomas, Kirk Hinrich, Andrés Nocioni and Joakim Noah. Enough talk. The Bulls are a deep, talented, young and dangerous team. And with rumors that Kobe Bryant could make it to Chicago, the Bulls have every chance in the world to win this year.
The NBA boasts a plethora of talented teams, all of which could win the championship. There is so much talent in the league today that the dynasties of yesteryear are all but dead and gone. My prediction is this: The NBA Finals will feature two teams that are desperate to win championships; Steve Nash and the Suns against Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and the Celtics. Personally, I’d love to see Big Ticket finally get its due. But Nash with a big championship ring on his finger wouldn’t be a bad sight either. However, if he were a gambler, he’d bet money on the Suns going all the way this year.