For those who know me, it goes without saying that I am a huge Warriors fan. I bleed Blue and Yellow. And after the amazing late-season playoff run and heart breaking loss to the Jazz in the second round last year, I am ecstatic that the NBA season is finally upon us. It represents not only a chance for redemption, but also a chance to prove that last year was no fluke. Does that mean I think that 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 turn my focus to the teams that are more likely to win the championship.
The wild, wild West is likely to live up to its name this year. There is just so much talent that any one of 6 or 7 teams could make it to NBA Finals.
1. San Antonio Spurs – This team may be a little old fashioned and boring to watch compared to some of the run and gun teams in the West, but with Parker, Duncan and Ginoblli all healthy, the Spurs are going to be tough.
2. Phoenix Suns – Coming off his second NBA MVP award in as many years, Steve Nash seems poised to orchestrate yet another deep playoff run. Maybe this year the Suns will not get cheated out of a Western Conference championship by Robert Horry’s cheap shots.
3. Denver Nuggets – The return of Kenyon Martin will bolster this teams championship chances. With four all-star caliber players in the starting lineup, Melo and Co. We are going to good. I just hope they can morph into the team they are capable of being.
4. Dallas Mavericks – The Mavs had a record year in 2006-2007, winning 67 games and losing a mere 15. So, the question is whether or not Dirk can live up to his potential, leave the kiddy pool 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 potentially go all the way. They have a decent supporting cast. Now it is up to the stars to perform.
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 all-star types, the Jazz may just be able to match last season’s Western Conference Finals berth.
The East is a different story. There are a large number of good teams, but only a few noteworthy 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 of the makings of a championship team. True, Rasheed Wallace is aging a bit and did not play his best last year, but with Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton by his side, the Pistons are as good as anyone in either conference.
2. Boston Celtics – Can the Celtics get back to their winning tradition? If you think anything else, 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 a little team chemistry and they have NBA Finals written all over them.
3. Chicago Bulls – Ben Wallace, Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Tyrus Thomas, Kirk Hinrich, Andres Nocioni and Joakim Noah. Enough said. The Bulls are a deep, talented, young, dangerous team. And with rumors that Kobe Bryant may be making his way 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 potentially win the championship. There is just so much talent in the league nowadays that the dynasties of old 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 would love the see the Big Ticket finally get his due. But Nash with a fat championship ring on his finger would not be a bad sight either. However, if I were a betting man, I would put money on the Suns to go all the way this year.