Initial thoughts I jotted down during the off-season: Who’s supposed to beat the Lakers, besides the Lakers? My dark horse picks included Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Phoenix; my faith in underdogs has since been destroyed. Going forward, it’s safe to expect season defining injuries to Andrew Bynum and Kyrie Irving; and Michael Beasley, a former second overall pick in the NBA draft, will never blossom.
I’m technically writing this post because the Knicks beat the Lakers the other night, that game was my call to action. This is another weak year for the Eastern Conference. Dismiss Boston and Chicago miracles now. The East comes down to the Knicks repeatedly trouncing the Heat, which shouldn’t come as a surprise because of the recipe: Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler, replace Dirk Nowitzki with Carmelo Anthony, and Jason Terry with Raymond Felton. Amar’e Stoudemire coming off the bench solidifies a Knicks team built to make an NBA Finals appearance.
My Kobe sarcasm is off the meter, I thought he was a lock for a sixth ring; I just wasn’t ready for the six ring argument! Had they gelled, it’s not inconceivable to think Mitch Kupchak assembled the greatest five man NBA team EVER: two previous MVPs, two previous defensive MVPs, and a starting rotation of functional All-Stars! Their potential drastically shifted from chasing 72 wins to missing the playoffs; Phil Jackson is beside himself.
Then the Western Conference was gift wrapped to the Thunder right? Wrong. James Harden disappeared in the Finals, against the Heat, not against the Spurs. Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook neutralize one another, the Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson tandem caps Kevin Durant outbursts, and expecting the unproven Kevin Martin to out duel Manu Ginobilli is akin to high hopes for Beasley. The Spurs couldn’t be in a better position to come out of the West, thank you Sam Presti. Houston is now a playoff team, and Harden should win Most Improved Player. Memphis is the wild card here; still, give me the Spurs representing the West in the NBA Finals.
As of now my NBA Finals picture reads Gregg Popovich over Mike Woodson, Spurs over Knicks.