February 26, 2008

My NBA Report

A lot has been happening in the past month and half in the NBA so there is a lot that needs to be covered. Obviously, I think the best place to start would be in the Western Conference, which is actually extremely intriguing for the first time in a long time. Whether than just having 3 teams running away with the conference every year like it has been pretty much since the turn of the century, there are about 9 teams within shouting distance of the top spot in the west. The Rockets may have to be written off with todays news of Yao Ming's stress fracture that will keep him sidelined the remained of the season. I just can't picture T-Mac leading that team into the playoffs even by himself, especially when the team has already reached its peak where they are at right now. Houston won't play better the rest of the year than they have in the month of February, and unfortunately, they will likely be the odd-team out when April rolls around.

But which teams will emerge with the top 4 seeds in the conference and get the all-important home-court advantage for the first round. With the addition of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum on his way back, the Lakers have clearly asserted themselves as one of those 4 teams. Kobe is back to being the best player in the league, after the past couple seasons where I have been on record saying he wasn't, and Dwayne Wade was. With Wade's injury-prone last year, and Kobe's play as-of-late, Kobe has reclaimed that right from Wade, for the time being anyway. Jason Kidd has sparked the Mavericks team that seamed to be in need of a spark. Kidd gives them experience down the stretch and a reliable option to work with the tandum of Nowitzki, Howard and Terry. The Mavs should be a force in the coming months (as long as they can avoid Golden State in the playoffs). I'm still not gonna count out the champs, because, quite frankly, they don't deserve to be. The still have Duncan, Mr. Eva Longoria and Manu. The addition of Kurt Thomas should make them tougher in the middle and give them some added muscle to go against the Lakers and Suns. The last spot I'm tossing between 2 teams at the moment. I like the way the Hornets are playing all year, and Chris Paul is without a doubt the MVP runner-up in my books, behind KG. The Suns still have a great team, even with the addition of the big fella. Shaq has opened up a lot more for Amare to be Amare, and now the Suns have someone in the middle to go to when San Antonio and other teams slow them down. At the moment, I'm gonna give the last spot to Phoenix, but that could change.

Now to the minor leagues, I mean the East. There are about 2 and a half teams over there that could maybe do some damage in the post-season. And actually, I could see either those teams winning a title this year, simply because they will have to go through chumps like Phily and Washington to get to the Finals, and can basically hit cruise control until the Eastern Conference Championship and let the West beat-up on themselves. More than likely, Boston and Detroit will earn to top 2 seeds since they are clearly the class of the field in the East, and the Cavs are OK. We'll see how they work with Big Ben and Wally's world. But look at it this way, say the Lakers end up emerging from the West as Champs and the Celtics emerge out of the East (dream match-up for Stern huh). The Lakers will likely play no series that go less than 6 games, while the Celtics would probably pull a sweep or two. And we've all seen over the past couple years how far the Suns fell deep in the playoffs when being taken into deep series by the Lakers, Clippers and Spurs. A fresh KG and Co. just might have enough to beat the class of the West.