I swear… all of these predictions (placement, records) were conceived last week before the actual season started. It is only my incisive, intuitive commentary that has changed. You can find my eastern conference predictions by scrolling down or back to November 2.
1. Phoenix Suns. They won’t miss Joe Johnson, a modern-day George McGinnis. They will miss Amare Stoudamire, but he’ll be back by mid-season so it’s cool. They will really miss Quentin Richardson, he of the sweetest three-point stroke since Louie Dampier. Sure, he only made like 4% of those three-pointers in the playoffs but Q is Q, meaning Q will lead the Knicks in scoring as they don’t even get close to the playoffs. But counteracting the things they miss is the arrival of Raja Bell, a rich man’s Devean George and you know that’s my highest compliment. And Shawn Marion is still Shawn Marion. Final record: 55-27.
2. Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe seems to be playing at a January/February 2003 level, a time during which his then-teammate Shaq was injured. He couldn’t miss anything and sure the Lakers couldn’t win but it was something to behold. And then came Colorado and the trade and the hell that is Karl Malone. Now, Kobe’s back, Smush is Smush, and Devean George is thisclose to stardom (I can feel it). And Phil is the man. 53-29.
3. Los Angeles Clippers. I could say so much about this team. Hundreds of words could be wasted on the talents of Corey and Shawn and E-Brand. I could point out the following truism regarding Sam Cassell – one good game, two bad ones, two good ones, injury. But I’ll just say this: It’s once again Hip To Clip. 50-32.
4. Sacramento Kings. Your time is over, Kings. It was a fun ride. I’ll still root for you when you play those annoying Texas teams. 41-41.
5. Golden State Warriors. They’ll be better than last year. Two games better. 32-50
1. Minnesota Timberwolves. I’ll handle them in a separate entry, one that almost all of you will not read. I’ll say this: They remind me of last year’s Sonics, which is sort of a compliment. 52-30.
2. Seattle Super Sonics. They remind me of last year’s Timberwolves, who finished 42-40.
3. Denver Nuggets. Everyone loves the Nuggets. Frenchmen want to make love to the concept of the Nuggets winning this division. Sumatran coffee growers are currently growing a special “Carmelo Blend” in anticipation of his superstardom next Gloomburst. I don’t feel the same way. 36-46.
4. Portland Trail Blazers. True story. When I was a younger man of 34 matriculating at the University of Minnesota, current Blazer center Joel Pryzbilla was a freshman and the Gophers’ prize recruit. One day, while shopping for running shoes at Foot Locker at the underrated Mall of America, I saw a tall basketballish looking guy browsing the new releases. It was Joel, with a pretty coed at his side (did I just say “coed”?). Because his disappointing college career had just started, the locals still loved him. Referee shirt-wearing Foot Locker employees circled him, wanting to help the man who would one day abandon his college team early so he could one day average 7 points and 6 rebounds (as a starter!) for a bad NBA team. I have nothing else to add to this story. I think I may have bought some socks. 29-53.
5. Utah Jazz. Utah’s a nice state. Pretty rock formations. Impressive salt lakes. Mehmet Okur (the Turkish Shawn Kemp) is about to break out. But they’re still the Jazz. Jerry Sloan will figure out a way to steal their soul and make them below average. 24-58
1. Dallas Mavericks. Their owner has a blog. Their coach should have a blog. Their best player is German. And for the first time since the Rolando Blackman/Derek Harper backcourt days, they haven’t overhauled half their team in the off-season. They’re dangerous this year. 57-25
2. San Antonio Spurs. I like equations. NBA Championship + over-the-hill point guard + over-the-hill shooting guard + Robert Horry’s and Manu Ginobli’s egos catching up to them = Loss in opening round. Isn’t it great that I can call people five years younger than me “over-the-hill”? 52-30.
3. Houston Rockets. More equations. Rik Smits – jump shot + Uwe Blab – the lost potential of Emilio Estevez + Michael Olowokandi = Yao Ming. (Kobe Bryant + Vince Carter) / 2 = Tracy McGrady. Phil Jackson – instinct = Jeff Van Gundy. 47-35.
4. Memphis Grizzlies. I liked them better when they played in Vancouver. 41-41.
5. New Orleans / Oklahoma City Hornets. When they move to Vegas next year, they’ll attract enough free agents and provide enough distractions to the visiting teams to squeeze in as an 8th playoff seed. Until then, 20-62.
Now that I have the energy, here are my playoff predictions:
1. Miami vs. 8. Cleveland. Miami in six games.
2. Milwaukee vs. 7. New Jersey. Milwaukee continues to astound the universe, in five games.
3. Philadelphia vs. 6. Washington. The Wizards pull off the upset in 7.
4. Detroit vs. 5. Indiana. Flip exhorts the Pistons to win in 7.
Miami over Detroit in 7 games. 5 of which are boring.
Milwaukee over Washington in 7 games, all of which are exciting.
Miami over Milwaukee in 7 games, with Dwyane Wade triumphing over his hometown team because who wouldn’t want to triumph over their hometown team when their hometown is Milwaukee?
1. Dallas vs. 8. Seattle. This is their year. Mavericks in 6.
2. Phoenix vs. 7. Houston. I’ve been to Phoenix. Nice town. Suns in 7.
3. Minnesota vs. 6. Clippers. 7 hard fought games, the seventh of which goes to the Wolves. Ali and Jason nearly come to blows over the controversial ending to game 5 (“KG fouled Kaman!” “No, it was incidental contact – fully legal!” “Well, Marko is a punk!” “Word!” and so on).
4. Lakers vs. 5. San Antonio. Lakers put the most boring sports dynasty since the Clinton-era New Jersey Devils to sleep. In a sweep.
Dallas is upset by the Lakers in 7. This is no longer their year.
Phoenix is shocked by the Wolves in 7. KG is on a mission.
Minnesota over the Los Angeles Lakers in 7.
Minnesota 4. Miami 3. Because I can write whatever I want. Bloggers are accountable to no one.