It is the Lakers plus everybody else. Second place
San Antonio are 8.5 games back on Los Angeles’ finest and you would think that L.A. will not be dropping games to the likes of Oklahoma again in the near future. So, there are 7 places up for grabs and 8 teams vying for them. Who needs to step up and who needs to stay consistent?
‘Why are you so paranoid?’ Kanye may as well be speaking to the Mavericks who have to be looking over their shoulder for the Phoenix Suns. Dirk must be waiting for the Big Diesel to jump him in a Scream mask. 3.5 games back with not very many games to go and the Suns are the second hottest (sorry) team in the conference on the back of three wins in a row. The Shaq Playoff War Machine is officially rolling, and it is scheduled for a crucial stop in Dallas. The fact that one of these teams will miss out on the post season speaks volumes for the strength of the West. Can Phoenix do it? Yes. Any team that can score 150 on any night in the best league in the world must have a chance to at least grab the 8th seed. They need Shaq to keep playing like Shaq circa 2003. And they need a fun-filled Steve Nash. Even without Stoudemire, the Suns have more firepower than just about everyother team in the whole league. Without STAT! Outrageous. As for Dallas, they need to forget that they are the chokiest of all chokers. If they can do that… they will realise that they have L.A. in round one. Problems.
Why is the West warped? Check out Houston. They lose their best scorer and their starting point guard and they are still the 3rd seed. How? People have been saying that the Rocketmen are better without McGrady. I hate that they are right. The fact that they trade Rafer Alston shows the faith the Rockets have in Aaron Brooks who is more than a track athlete. They will need Brooks to show experience beyond his years to make a run deep into the post season but he hasn’t failed up till now so why should he, right? Also, the Great Porcelain Wall of Yao cannot break. If it does, Houston will be going fishing early.
Convinced the West is trippy yet? Observe: Denver trade one of the league’s all time great scorers and do better without him? Are you insane? Admittedly, in Chauncey Billups the Nuggets got one of the best points in the game whose moniker of ‘Mr Big Shot’ has been earned. It turns out that the A.I.-Melo partnership was too much fun: too many points and not a lot of anything else. If Billups can continue to steady such an offensively explosive team, they have every chance of taking down the much fancied Hornets in the first round.
All I’m saying about New Orleans is that they better be praying to any god out there that Chris Paul does not get injured. If he goes down, the Hornets sink real fast.
Utah, an already good team, win 14 in a row and are in 7th? How. The Jazz are a deep and scary team. Truly. Kirilenko, Boozer, Okur, Williams, Millsap, Korver. Add Jerry Sloan to the mix and you have a well drilled, disciplined team that nobody will want in the first round. If Boozer and Williams can get their Batman and Robin thing going again then the Jazz will go deep. They have to don’t they?
Not with San Antonio as their projected first rounder. Nobody does the playoffs like the Spurs. And it’s an odd number year. They gave everyone their standard ‘your go’ year in 2008 and now in 2009 the Spurs want their trophy back. Tim Duncan will keep being Mr Dependable (20 and10 a night) and Tony Parker will get his Manu back for the second season and with a pressure shooter like Roger Mason Jr. who can’t miss when there is less than 10 on the clock, only a fool would bet against San An.
If San Antonio represent continuity and the experience of old age, then Portland are their antithesis. They are young and their potential is worrying. How did they get so many really good, really young players on their roster? Batum, Rudy, Bayless, Oden, and with Brandon Roy in charge and LaMarcus Aldridge dominating the paint (and shooting threes…) the TrailBlazers are officially back in the hunt. They need Roy though. He is the glue that holds a relatively inexperienced team together.
Will any of the above be able to stop the Cleveland-L.A. Final? Nope.