I won’t keep you reading for long and I’ll quickly get to my point: this year’s NBA champion will come from the West, and no, it won’t be the LA Clippers.
The East is predictable. It will either be the Miami Heat or the Boston Celtics. Indiana? They lack a premier go-to scorer that the Heat have in Lebron and Dwyane Wade. The 76ers? Too young for the battle-tested Boston squad.
Miami should have its way against Indiana. The way Lebron ransacked the Pacer defense with 32 points while also grabbing 15 rebounds with 6 of those coming on the offensive side, it’s hard to spot anyone in the opposition capable of stopping him. He’s big, he’s fast, he’s quick, and he can score that basketball so well.
Boston core lineup of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett have been together for the past 5 seasons, reaching the Finals twice and winning one title along the way. Too much experience and skill. The all-around Rondo can pick the Sixers apart. His ability to run the offense and to defend well will be too much for Philly to handle.
Out West, the Clippers can’t pull this one off, I’m sorry to say. The way they played against Memphis was admirably ugly — being scrappy and rugged — and definitely far from pretty. I’m not saying “pretty” wins games, but against San Antonio, against Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich, you can’t play ugly. Turnovers must be kept to a minimum because that Spurs team takes very good care of the basketball: they averaged just a little over 11 per game against Utah. Plus, LA is far too inconsistent, especially at the free throw line. Blake Griffin is hurt, as well as Chris Paul. They can’t win a 7-game series, especially against San Antonio, without those two being effective.
The other West matchup is a battle. Kobe versus Durant. World Peace versus Harden. Derek Fisher versus his old team. Bynum’s shot-blocking versus Ibaka’s shot-blocking. Tough call here. Both teams are very evenly match. But I have a feeling Derek Fisher may be to the Thunder what Don Nelson was to the Warriors in 2007. I can’t wait to get this match-up going.
It’s the West’s year this year. Take your pick. Spurs, Lakers, or Thunder. Barring any injuries, it’s going to be either Tony Parker, Kobe Bryant, or Kevin Durant who will be hoisting that Larry O’Brien trophy up in June.