Wednesday, April 13, 2011

anybody's game

Well, now that the San Antonio Spurs have choked away the best record in the NBA, losing at Phoenix, 106-103, a few words about the "favorites" in this year's NBA Playoffs.

In the East:

Chicago Bulls: Can't say enough about the job these cats have done under first-year coach Tom Thibodeau. Derrick Rose is a solid contender for the MVP award; Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer are solid inside; the bench is decent; and this team plays defense. But, are they still a year away?

Boston Celtics: Just like last year, the Celtics struggled badly late in the regular season. Can they turn it on again? Or will they simply be the latest team to suffer from the Shaq Curse?

Miami Heat: Watch out, folks. For all their shortcomings (for one, a lack of any stand-out players besides their Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh), this is still a very dangerous team.

Orlando Magic: Hard to know what to expect from this team, but they do have arguably the best player in the league in center Dwight Howard. The Magic aren't to be taken lightly.

In the West:

San Antonio Spurs: What to make of this team? They dominated most of the regular season, but they're looking very beatable right now. Is this Tim Duncan's last hurrah?

Los Angeles Lakers: The title still goes through L.A. The defending champs are still the team to beat, unless and until somebody knocks 'em off.

Oklahoma City Thunder: I thought Kevin Durant had an off year because his rebounding average dipped so much. Still, the young fellah led the NBA in scoring for the 2nd straight year. The Thunder have a lot of nice pieces, and the acquisition of Kendrick Perkins from Boston certainly didn't hurt. Could this be the year they break through?

Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs have to actually do something in the playoffs before I'm gonna start paying much attention, but it sure would be nice to see my boy Shawn Marion make some noise.

I think these playoffs are wide open. Each of the above teams has a realistic shot at making it into the Finals. I'm not gonna try to predict the outcome, but here's how I hope it'll turn out:

Chicago vs. Oklahoma City for the title. If those two teams make it... flip a coin, because I'd be ecstatic to see either team win it all.

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