The 2012-13 regular season is over and it is time for playoff basketball. The question that has been asked all season will be answered: Can anyone stop Lebron and the Heat? The Heat will need to stop the trend of the overall #1 team not winning the NBA Finals.
1) Miami Heat - Lebron, Wade, and Bosh are going to try and deliver on their promise of multiple championships. The addition of Ray Allen has had promising returns, but the play of Birdman Anderson has solidified an area of weakness. The NBA might be in that era of MJ’s Bulls where it is LeBron’s world and everyone is playing for second place. Unless the Heat suffer a significant injury, or the Bucks get “out of this world” hot, the Heat will sweep the Bucks in a route.
2) Oklahoma City Thunder – After last year’s NBA Finals, the Thunder were the clear favorites to repeat as Western Conference champions and the NBA world would get “Heat vs. Thunder II”. But after trading Harden, the Thunder are no longer the clear favorites and must get through a tough West.
3) San Antonio Spurs – The Last Stand! The Spurs are not getting any younger and will make one more run at the Finals. Getting past the first rounds with relative ease will be key for the Spurs, especially their Big Three. Having rested legs and getting Tony Parker back in the swing of things will be the key to their Playoff success.
4) L.A. Clippers – The Clippers won their first ever Divisional title but will look for a banner worthy to hang in the rafters. Chris Paul is the fiercest competitor in the playoffs and is the key to their playoff run.
5) New York Knicks – It is time. Time for Melo to lead a team deep into the playoffs and contend for a title. This team is built to challenge the Heat because of their outside shooting and an athletic big man in the center.
6) Denver Nuggets – The deepest, quickest, and fastest team in the playoffs that will run you out the gym, especially in Denver. The loss of Gallinari and the lack of a post presence prevent them from being higher in the rankings.
7) Memphis Grizzlies – They defend and force you to play a half court, grind it out kind of game. They beat the Clippers in seven games last season; they will fall in seven games this year.
8) Indiana Pacers – Losing Granger is not too big of a factor since they have played without him all year and the emergence of Paul George. They ended the season trending down, but they are a big, athletic, and physical team that will beat a team up over a seven game series.
9) Boston Celtics – The injury to Rajon Rondo has been the major theme of the Celtic season. With Rondo they can win any series against any team. Without Rondo, they can compete with the Knicks and be eliminated in 6. Boston does not have the firepower to beat Melo.
10) Chicago Bulls – No Rose, no chance. In a season that most Bulls’ fans thought was lost; the gritty Bulls will fight hard each and every game, but fall short.
11) L.A. Lakers - Without Kobe, the Lakers will fight and lose honorably. I predict they will challenge the Spurs every game, but will not have enough 4th quarter scoring to win playoff games versus the experienced play of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili.
12) Houston Rockets – Upset alert! The Houston Rockets are a young and energetic team that will score a lot of points. But can they defend in the playoffs?
13) Brooklyn Nets – They have the talent to beat the Bulls but the trades and free agent acquisitions will set them back in the long run.
14) Golden State Warriors -The young Warriors are fading and fading fast. The moment will be too big for them, over in 5.
15) Atlanta Hawks – This season was about shredding salary cap and making a run at Dwight and Paul. Making the playoffs was a bonus.
16) Milwaukee Bucks – Will be surprised if the series goes to 5, which the Bucks would consider a successful season.
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