The NBA is Back!…For now

Posted: March 18, 2011 in NBA

Now I know not everyone is the biggest basketball fan in the frozen tundra known as Canada, but as a professional sports fan how can you not be excited about this year’s season?! Never before have we seen so much player movement (good and bad) and talent near the top of the standings setting us up for one of the best playoffs in recent memory.

To set the record straight, do I support all this crazy player demanded movement with zero allegiance to the teams that gave them their chance for stardom and the fans that supported them? No I do not from a personal standpoint, however putting that aside for fan and viewing purposes I love the teams that are established especially the ones that did it the right way, or mostly. We have seem teams that collaborated to stack the top of their roster and draft/sign to build around them (Boston, Miami, now the New York Knickerbockers); teams that have been patient while adding on (Oklahoma, Chicago, Orlando, Memphis, Atlanta) and the teams who like to spend (thank you Dallas and Los Angeles). Then of course there is Portland, San Antonio (2000-2009 dynasty) Philadelphia, Indiana/Charlotte (tight race) Denver and New Orleans. These categories of course are randomly made up just to categorize roughly the story lines going into the playoffs.

The teams at the top are just loaded with talent but of course some better set for playoff runs than others. There’s old dependable in Boston where the original Big 3 tag line was used and they went on to win a championship their first year together and rightly so. They had Glen Davis and Kendrick Perkins there to support KG in minutes and Rondo established himself as an elite-point-guard-to-be in leading the celebrated veterans to the elusive championship they all coveted. Miami is looking to make a splash in their first year of very controversial signings outside the Miami fan base and the pioneers for this player movement shift we’re seeing happen around the league. Do they have what it takes to win it all this year? No of course not, too young, no one wants to be that guy in the moment and execute and frankly not enough size compared to the real contenders. Chicago and Orlando are two incredibly strong teams in the East who could make some serious noise come playoff time. Orlando is the forgotten power behind another leading (but not #1) MVP candidate in Dwight Howard. Averaging 22 points, 14 boards and 2+ blocks a game is incredible and I cannot believe more people aren’t taking notice. So what LeBron is getting 26-7-7 AGAIN, Dwight is playing crazy defence, close to the lead in rebounds and top 5 in blocks that speaks volumes if your offense struggles one night. Chicago is the sexy pick in this year’s playoffs in the East as far as I’m concerned. You have the leading MVP vote getter if I got to vote in Derrick Rose who averages almost 25 points, almost 8 assists and 4 boards a game. That’s just the on paper qualifications, he kept the team near the top of the East for all those weeks when he had neither Carlos Boozer nor Joakim Noah who when returned have already shown why they’re such valued commodities. Chicago is so well rounded and plays such great team defense they have a legitimate shot in my mind to take the whole thing. They can run the floor, everyone, and play defense like a college team and the chemistry is unbeatable.

The Western Conference is more of a toss up as several teams are on hot streaks in recent weeks; they have the defending champs in LA and viable contenders in Oklahoma City, Dallas and the perennially dangerous San Antonio Spurs. I don’t really know who is coming out of the West because so much can happen based on the match ups. The Thunder proved to us last year they can hang with the big boys and picking up Kendrick Perkins along with Ibaka gives them serious size and intimidation down low. Is it as good as Pau and Bynum? Probably not but if Bynum or Pau is not 100% and Perkins stays healthy the Thunder have a strong case. So does Dallas with a re-energized defense with Tyson Chandler being their version of KG and firing up the team with his intensity while Dirk is having another great year, average in Dirk standards. In addition there is the ageless Kidd who is still running the show with 6th man of the year, probably, Jason Terry averaging over 16 points off the bench. San Antonio has the leagues best record but I don’t see them holding up in the playoffs. They might turn things around but I think they will meet too much stiff competition over a 7 game series to keep up the pace they’ve set for themselves and fall to a younger team. Denver is the sweet story as they lost Carmelo to trade demands yet have been 9-2 since his departure and are staying strong in the standings. I have not watched enough of their games to really know how difficult they might be to another team but they’re playing strong as a team of supposed castoffs and want to show everyone they deserve our respect.

I don’t make many predictions as no one really knows what is going to happen and that is why we play the games. The finals that I would love to see would be the Bulls versus the Thunder and show an official changing of the guard and I’ll go out on limb and make that my prediction just for fun with the Bulls winning in 6. But I think we will see LA in there instead against Boston in a final rematch of last year before those teams ride off into the sunset and let the young studs come in and take over the league officially. Welcome back NBA, for at least this season you could not have asked for a better finale to your 2011 show.

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