TIME TO REFOCUS

“It’s the NBA, baby!” Just imagine the excitement in that statement if it was being stated by Dick Vitale himself during an NBA game. As much as I love college ball, I would pay good money to hear Dickie V announce the sort of highlights we see in the NBA today.

Just when we thought we were finished with the basketball chatter, fully focused on the MLB Playoffs, and hibernating into our football “man caves”, the kings of the hardwood are back in action. The 2012-13 NBA season kicked off with some marquee match-ups in the East and West. We saw a rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals from last season, when the defending Champion Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics, 120-107. In the West, we witnessed the last two Western Conference teams to be crowned Champion face off, when Dallas beat the new look Lakers 99-91. Many will argue that the Miami victory is a prelude to what they will continue to do this season, while the same group will argue that the Lakers-Mavericks outcome is no indication of anything. The truth is, it’s one game, and we have a long road ahead.

And that’s what we do each season. At the beginning of the season, we are anxious to predict the end. Who will be this season’s MVP? Who will face off in each Conference Final? Who will win it all? And once those questions are answered, at the end, we anticipate what we have to look forward to in the beginning. Whose going where? Which team will rack up in the Draft and Free Agency? It’s a never-ending cycle.

Now that I’ve said that, I will follow along with all the other sports puppets, and make my “BOLD” predictions for this season. Except, they are never bold, because we simply look at what happened last season, take the easiest choices, and at the end say, “I told you so!”

My COUCH SPORTS EXPERT NBA Predictions:

SEASON SCORING LEADER – KEVIN DURANT – Oklahoma City Thunder

If it aint broke, don’t try to fix it. Durant it going to put up his points, and with the loss of Harden, and limited options, he will need to do that even more this season.

SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR – MANU GINOBILI – San Antonio Spurs

The starter, turned Sixth Man has always been a top contender for the spot, and now that Harden will likely be a starter for the Houston Rockets, he really has no foreseeable competition.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – TYSON CHANDLER – New York Knicks

Many will say Lakers center Dwight Howard, but I’m looking at past trends. During his tenure with L.A., Shaquille O’Neal never won the “Defensive Player of the Year” Award, and was on the NBA All-Defense 2nd Team three times. (Never on the 1st Team) I assume that’s because he has always had good help from Kobe Bryant and Co. What help did Howard have in Orlando? Now he has Kobe, Gasol, and Metta World Peace to rely on.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER – LEBRON JAMES – Miami Heat

He just brings too much to the table. There are players who are good at leading and orchestrating their offense. (Rondo, Kidd, Deron Williams) There are great scorers. (Carmelo, Kobe, Durant, Wade, Derrick Rose) There are great defenders (Tyson Chandler, Dwight Howard, Garnett) There is NO ONE ELSE who is a hybrid of them ALL.

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS – MIAMI HEAT vs. BOSTON CELTICS

Miami has the best player in the NBA, and a system that works. They have slashers and spot-up shooters. They improved their bank of spot-up shooters this year. Boston lost Ray Allen, who was definitely declining on their unit, but added Jason Terry. The Chicago Bulls will be a factor, but the fact still remains that if you can contain Derrick Rose, they are easily beatable.

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS – SAN ANTONIO SPURS vs. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

I think the Spurs will definitely be there. They showed during last season how they can manage the playing time of their older players, and the role players can step up. I think they will be the #1 seed in the West again. Which also means L.A. and OKC will face off before the West Finals. If OKC would have kept Harden, they would have been my easy favorite. Even with a prime Shaq and Kobe, L.A. has never had n easy road to the Finals. They still lack that spot-up shooter to kick the ball out to, and Kobe is a year older. OKC is very young, and can only learn from last season. They didn’t just lose Harden, but did get some depth in return. And personally, I think Harden played like a bum against San Antonio and Miami last year. This one could go either way.

NBA FINALS – MIAMI HEAT vs.  OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

They were clearly the two best teams in the league last season, even though their Conference match-ups were harder than expected. They are both young. As much as we all want to see a LeBron vs. Kobe NBA Final, LeBron and Durant are now the two best players in the league. Considering Games 1-4 of last season’s Finals came down to 3 or 4 plays in the end, it was an exciting match-up.

2012-13 NBA CHAMPIONS – MIAMI HEAT

We all know that repeating is much harder than it seems. I just don’t see any team, other than the Lakers, who made improvements to match Miami. I can tell you a few moves I felt OKC should’ve made to improve, especially now that they have parted ways with Harden. But they didn’t, and Miami did make some slight improvements. I think “King James” gets ring #2 this year.

The season is still very young, but who is your early pick to win it all?

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  1. […] It’s the NBA, Baby! (Predictions) (couchsportsexpert.com) […]

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