I love the NBA, but the reason that I don’t love it as much as the NFL is because before the year even starts you can eliminate almost 3/4 of the league from the discussion of being in the NBA Finals.
As I looked over the league it is obvious what teams won’t be contenders and it is possible a team like the Clippers, Nets, Nuggets, Grizzlies and etc will make a run, but the reality of the situation in my mind there are Two MEGA POWERS and three teams that can stop them.
THE MEGA POWERS are the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat. The Heat added some nice complimentary players this offseason, but the fact is they have Optimus Bron on their team. I don’t think Lebron has even hit his peak yet and now that he has the weight of not winning a ring off his back it is scary what he might do. That more than any thing else make the Heat the favorite to repeat.
Then you have the Lakers. If they just got Dwight Howard it would have been great, but getting Steve Nash may prove to be the acquisition that gets Kobe Bryant his 6th ring. I can not underestimate how important having a player like Nash on your team from a basketball standpoint and a chemistry standpoint is.
Everyone is picking a Lakers vs. Heat Finals. There isn’t any reason not to. If someone is picking a different matchup they are just doing it for attention and praying it comes true so they can say “I told you so”.
Nothing in sports are guaranteed, so you can’t say it is set in stone, but the probability will be high that Lebron and Kobe will finally meet in the Finals.
But there are three teams that can stop it.
1- The Boston Celtics
They are a better team than the one who had the Heat on the ropes in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. Losing Ray Allen isn’t a big deal. They added veterans, more athletes and size to their lineup. Mentally, they are the one team who will never back down to the Heat. It is the reason I think they are the only team in the East with a legit shot of knocking them off. Indiana, Philly, Nets and Knicks all will be solid, but mentally are not ready to make that step. The Celtics led by Kevin Garnett will be fueled to beat the Heat and when the rematch happens in the Eastern Conference Finals, don’t be shocked if they do.
2- The Oklahoma City Thunder
James Harden is an excellent player. In the short-term early in the season they will miss him, but by the time the playoffs roll around they will be fine. Their rotation will be set and they are still the deepest team in West. They have been to the Finals and have tasted defeat. They aren’t afraid or intimidated by the Lakers. You already know what Kevin Durant can do, but it is Russell Westbrook who pound for pound might be the most talented player in the League behind Lebron. Westbrook is like the Dark Phoenix in the X-Men, he is struggling to control all his power, if he can find that balance no one should be surprised if Thunder are back in the Finals.
3- San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are similar to the Celtics. Older vets mixed in with young athletic players with a great coach. Those type of teams you never want to count out.
The Spurs had Oklahoma City down 2-0 in the Western Conference Finals before the wheels fell off. There is no reason to believe that they won’t be right in the mix again.
They can be trusted more than say a team with more talent like the Clippers to mentally push through the Thunder or Lakers, that is why they are the third team who can throw a wrench into the Lakers vs. Heat Finals.
If I had to pick one of the three to actually do it, it would be the Celtics. I think their influx of new players will give them new life and they are the one team who will stand up to the Heat.
In the end like most people I still predict a Lakers vs. Heat in the Finals with Optimus Bron going BACK TO BACK.