The Hoops Manifesto has teamed up with some of the world wide web's best NBA writers - the Bloguin family - to get you prepared for the 2010/11 NBA season. Consider this your NBA cheat sheet, all the info you need to know heading into the year. First up: the team predictions.
Panelists: Jeff Fox from The Hoops Manifesto, LIVES and PEACEMAN from Knicks Fanatics, College Wolf from TWolves Blog, Brendan Bowers from Stepien Rules, Sean Francois from Hoops Head North, Philip from Orlando Magic Daily, Mookie from A Stern Warning and Don from With Malice.
NBA Finals Matchup
Consensus: Lakers over the Celtics
Jeff Fox: The Lakers length and chemistry/familiarity makes all the difference as they knock off the Heat in the NBA Finals and complete their three-peat.
PEACEMAN: The Celtics beat a young Thunder in five games. Why? Doc Rivers plays this season smart...like last year, only smarter. The X- factors. The Thunder knock out a ailing Laker team and a well-rested Celtics knock the Heat on their azz after the Heat eliminates the Magic! The X- Factors for Boston will be the play of SHAQ & Nate Robinson in the playoffs!
LIVES: With no consideration for predicting injuries, the Lakers will beat the Magic. Magic finally overcome physicality and chemistry of Celtics, but don't have the experience and savvy to handle a seven game Championship series against Kobe, Gasol, Fisher and a much better bench than last season.
College Wolf: Thunder vs Celtics. The Celtics take another title before the end of their mini-dynasty. KG is back and revitalized, and the Celtics have the deepest team since the Big Three came together. The Heat just don't have the horses yet, and they have injury prone players at every position. I can't conceivably pick the Lakers for anything, ever, because of my blinding and irrational hatred for them. Plus the Thunder are awesome. And they have big men now (Cole Aldrich, Ibaka.)
Brendan Bowers: The Miami Heat will match-up against the Lakers, and the Lakers will win for three reasons. The first, it will not be as easy as people think for the Heat to get out of the East. They will be pushed by the contingent of teams like the Celtics, Bulls and Orlando, however the pairings shake out. The second reason is because while the Heat are loaded in historical proportions, they don't have one player better than Kobe Bryant. And the Lakers with Bryant, Artest, Odom, Gasol, possibly Bynum too, can match-up with Wade-James- and Bosh. Lakers in six.
Sean Francois: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics. The Los Angeles Lakers want to make the most of their chance at history and give Phil Jackson (as well as Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher) his fourth three-peat.
Philip: Magic over Lakers. OK, so I am a major homer here. But I have seen firsthand what Orlando can do when everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) counts them out. This team is hungry after getting (frankly) embarrassed in last year's Eastern Conference Finals. Even with Miami making the moves it made, Orlando brings every key player back from a team that won 59 games last season and had the largest point differential in the league and went an astounding 33-8 in the final half of the season. And now this team is hungry?! No one thought the Magic could beat the CaveBrons two years ago in the Eastern Conference Finals and they flat out dominated that series. That would not happen in a series against the Three Musketeers in Miami, but who do they have to answer Dwight Howard? The Lakers are still a very good team, but I think the Magic match up better with them this year than they did in 2009.
Mookie: Miami Heat v Los Angeles Lakers- ever since Miami put together their Miami Thrice squad, I've maintained that they will not beat the teamwork of the Lakers. I still maintain that. The only thing that may put a spanner in the works will be the health status of one Kobe Bryant. KB24 has got a lot of miles on the tank and it finally may start to take a toll on his games played this season. Fingers crossed we get the matchup we want though.
Don: L.A. Lakers vs Boston Celtics. What a storyline!!! L.A. take this match, because Boston will simply be too old, too sore and tired after a brutal postseason that includes a seven game series against the Miami Heat. L.A. will get through to the Finals - during the playoffs new additions Blake/Barnes being key at times, and Derrick Caracter having one game were everyone ends up asking why he wasn't drafted much, much earlier. Derek Fisher will have a torrid start - and end up handing over starting duties to Steve Blake, but will perform in clutch moments during the Finals (deja vu?).
How many games will the Miami Heat win?
Jeff Fox: 65
College Wolf: 69. Even with injuries and no bench, LeBron is just that good.
Brendan Bowers: 70. They'll rest people and say regular season records are not their objective, the title is, and other cliches like that as they fall just short of Jordan and his Bulls' all-time mark.
Sean Francois: I honestly believe the 70+ win talk (Jeff Van Gundy) is highly unlikely. So much has to go right in an NBA season, add to the fact it's only happened once ever (1995-96 NBA champion Chicago Bulls), I don't see it happening - especially with other Eastern Conference teams like Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, and their in-state rivals, Orlando Magic who are all vying to be the best in the East. The extremely talented Western Conference teams are all going to bring their A-games when facing 'Miami Thrice'. That said, I think Miami will have a successful regular season. Let the games begin! 62 wins.
Philip: 62 - Mike Miller's early-season injury will cost the Heat a shot at the Bulls record (not that they would make it there anyway).
Team with the worst record at the end of the season
Consensus: Toronto Raptors
PEACEMAN: The Nets win two in a row!
Jeff Fox: Cleveland. LeBron left the cupboard bare and when a 34-year-old Antawn Jamison is your best player, you're in trouble.
LIVES: New Orleans Hornets. They will be the poster child for contraction and the reason Chris Paul leaves his beloved city.
College Wolf: Not the TWolves! Let's go with the Raptors, that team is brutal. You know you are in trouble when Linas Kleiza is going to be one of your best offensive players.
Brendan Bowers: Raptors
Sean Francois: The Minnesota Timberwolves. Coming off a season with the 2nd worse record in the NBA, winning only 15 games, I think "Rick Kamla's T-Wolves" are heading for a similar result in the 2010-11 campaign. With such a guard heavy team I think they lack the depth it will take for them to match up against most other NBA rosters. They also play in the Western Conference, where there are practically no easy games on any night.
Philip: Toronto- who is going to step in and replace Chris Bosh's offensive output? Andrea Bargnani? Really? There just is not a lot to write home about on this Raptors team.
Mookie: Minnesota Timberwolves (sorry, TWolvesBlog.com)
Don: Golden State Warriors
Next up: Part 2 - The player/coach predictions.