Welcome one and all to the sports blog that keeps on giving. The place where it is recognized that men lie, women lie, and numbers lie. However, real facts never lie. That's what, it is Tha Weatha Report. Today it is time to take a look at the landscape of the NBA. What does the forecast have in store? Let's jump right into it.
- Atlantic Division: This division is a two horse race between the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks. The sexy pick is the Knicks, especially after their opening day Christmas day win over the Celtics. However, a lot of factors are commonly overlooked when discussing that game. The missing Paul Pierce not playing being the main one. Simply put, after being swept last season by the Celtics the game meant more to New York than it did to Boston. Even with all that being said, a win is still a win and the Knicks now own one over their division rivals. That one victory did nothing to change my mind on which team is going to win the division. Boston is a better defensive team, has a better back court, and has more depth. Not to mention that the front lines cancel each other out. All of that adds up to Boston winning with the division in a close race.
- Central Division: This division belongs to Chicago and it is not even a close race. Simply put, Chicago is the second best team in the Eastern Conference and some people have them being the best. The more intriguing thought is which team is the second best. That goes to the Indiana Pacers. Adding David West to a young core that is continuing to improve will do wonders for this team. They won't provide much competition for Chicago, but they are working their way up the ladder with shrewd personnel moves.
- Southeast Division: If Chicago is the second best team in the conference then Miami is the clear cut favorite and the obvious best team in this division. As with the Central Division, the issue is which team is the second best. Last year Atlanta beat Orlando in 6 games in the first round of the playoffs, and with the uncertainty surrounding the Magic I have Atlanta being the second best team in this division.
Surprise Team: The Milwaukee Bucks are my pick for the surprise team in the Eastern Conference. I believe a healthy Andrew Bogut and a steadily improving Brandon Jennings is a combo that could possibly squeeze the young Bucks into the bottom half of the playoff brackets out East. If Stephen Jackson stays focused and motivated and the Bucks improve their defense, a 7th or 8th seed is not out of the question.
Eastern Conference Playoff Teams
4. New York
Those are the 8 teams I have representing the East in the playoffs. As mentioned earlier, it would not surprise me to see Milwaukee squeak into one of those two bottom spots, especially if Philadelphia stumbles.
Miami vs Chicago = Miami winning in 6 games
I am forecasting a rematch in the Eastern Conference Finals and with a similar result. Miami is on a mission this year and I look for them to beat Chicago in 6 once again.
- Northwest Division: This is another division with a clear cut team that is head and shoulders above the other teams. The Oklahoma City Thunder, in my opinion, are the best team in the division and the Western Conference as a whole. The Nuggets look poised to finish second in this division as they continue their post Melo improved play.
- Pacific Division: Maybe you heard a couple of things about this division in the off season? If not, you had to be hiding under a rock. Between the trade that didn't happen, the NBA commissioner who wasn't really a commissioner for a time period, to the trades that did happen, this division was the talk of the post lockout frenzy. After the dust settled we have Chris Paul in a Clippers uniform, and an unhappy Kobe Bryant wondering where CP3 took that detour. Even after all that, I still think the Lakers will win the division in a tight race with the Clippers. Until further notice Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and a returning from suspension Andrew Bynum is a better triumvirate than CP3, Blake Griffin, and Chauncey Billups/DeAndre Jordan.
Southwest Division: This division is a two horse race. Two teams that for various reasons have been either overlooked or written off. The San Antonio Spurs are considered by some to be too old while the Dallas Mavericks, the defending NBA champions no less, have been considered to have lost too many key pieces. As the great Lee Corso would say, not so fast my friend. Do not be so quick to write those Spurs off just yet. Remember, that lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in last year's playoffs was without a healthy Ginobili. This year, I have the Spurs winning the division with the Mavs finishing second. A healthy Ginobili, Duncan, and Parker have enough in them for another run.
Western Conference Playoff Teams
1. Oklahoma City
2. San Antonio
3. Los Angeles Lakers
4. Dallas Mavericks
5. Los Angeles Clippers
6. Denver Nuggets
7. Memphis Grizzlies
8. Golden State Warriors
These are my 8 Western Conference playoff teams, which also includes my surprise team. I believe the Golden State Warriors, under first time head coach Mark Jackson, will find a defensive identity and sneak into the playoffs. The team can score with anyone. If Jackson can get the team to play some defense, then they can surprise some people.
Oklahoma City vs San Antonio = Oklahoma City Thunder
The forecast is calling for a changing of the guard. This year, the San Antonio Spurs will formerly hand over the torch to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The youngsters will take out the veterans and go to the NBA Finals.
Miami Heat vs Oklahoma City Thunder = Miami Heat
That's right, I'm still firmly on the Miami Heat bandwagon. I believe that what transpired last year was a much needed humbling experience and it will help the Heat come through and win the championship this year.
Kevin Durant: He will be the best player on the best team in the Western Conference. He'll win the scoring title as well and make huge leaps as far as moving without the ball and on his defense.
Defensive Player of the Year
Josh Smith: The 7th year man is already a tour de force on the defensive end. This year he gets the credit he deserves.
Rookie of the Year
Kemba Walker: There will be plenty of rookies getting playing time this season. Kemba Walker will be the one to stand out. He will score and play adequate defense for a team that is in dire need of a face to lead it. Kemba Walker will be that player.
That's it for this edition of Tha Weatha Report. Please take the time to check out the YouTube page. Just look up Tha Weatha Report. You can find me on twitter at @WeathaManRuck. Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments as well. Remember, men lie, women lie, and numbers lie. True facts will NEVER lie!