Back in February, I wrote this article predicting which NBA teams had legitimate shots at winning the title. Well, I thought it was time to look back at those teams and see what, if anything, had changed. Overall I still feel pretty good about my original predictions, but there are a few teams that need to be adjusted for.
Original prediction: Fraud
In my first article Philly was 3rd in the East, 1st place in the Atlantic. and had a four game lead over Boston and New York. They now trail the Celtics by three games and are clinging onto the 7th playoff spot in the East. It appears that Doug Collins has already started to wear thin on his young team and the Sixers have lost six of their last ten. Looks like I got this one right, they’re still frauds.
Original Prediction: Fraud
If I was feeling good about myself after calling the Sixers out early, I feel equally as bad for writing off the Celtics in February. In the past ten days they’ve given the Heat two beatdowns and now find themselves 4th in the East, just two games behind Indiana for 3rd. I noted in my first post that we’d seen Boston start slow early in the year, only to get hot in time for the playoffs. I wrote that they couldn’t do this forever, and they can’t, but they have for at least one more year as Boston has been red hot since the All Star break. Rajon Rondo is still having a fantastic year, but Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have stepped up their games recently and Ray Allen coming off the bench gives them more versatility on offense. While I still think it would have served them better in the long run to blow up this team, these guys still have another title run in them: Legit
Indiana: Haha! I can’t believe you’re asking again! Fraud.
Original Prediction: Fraud.
What a chaotic season the Magic have had. Back in February, the Magic were playing well after a slow start, but I still didn’t believe in them with all of the Dwight Howard drama. I had no idea what kind of drama would actually unfold. John Kerry and Billy Donovan laughed at how many times Howard changed his mind leading up to the trade deadline, before bizarrely opting into one final year in Orlando. (Dwight Watch 2013 is coming!) A few weeks later, Coach Stan Van Gundy revealed that he knew Howard had asked for him to be fired, creating one of the most awkward hugs in history. Orlando is currently in 6th place in the East and there is absolutely nothing about them that scares me. Fraud.
Atlanta: Same ‘ol, same ‘ol. Fraud.
Original Prediction: To Be Determined
Linsanity is over and Mike D’Antoni has been fired, but the Knicks are still playing decent basketball. Interim coach Mike Woodson is doing a good job dealing with the stress that surrounds this team on a daily basis. Things just never quite clicked with the Knicks this year. With Lin out until at least the playoffs and their outside shooting still a problem, it’s impossible to take this team seriously. Fraud.
Chicago: The Bulls are still in first place in the East, despite Derrick Rose missing several games due to injury. They’re playing great team basketball and have several come from behind wins this year. Hopefully Rose will get back in the lineup in time to get the chemistry right in time for the playoffs, but this team is still very much Legit.
Miami: The Heat look to have been in cruise control lately, which is frustrating from a fan’s perspective. They’ve mailed it in several times this year, despite lacking a championship pedigree. I’m not going to panic yet about this team’s title chances, but if they think they can simply flip a switch come playoff time they could be in for yet another disappointing season. Legit.
Oklahoma City: The Thunder are still playing great and Kevin Durant may get his first MVP this year. Russell Westbrook still scares me in crunch time, but this team is really good. What’s most impressive is how much they’ve committed to the defensive side this year. Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins are monsters down low and James Harden is a terrific perimeter defender. They were, and still are legit.
Original Prediction: Fraud
In my first post I admitted to having not watched the Spurs play yet this season because they’re so boring to watch. I’ve seen about three total quarters now and they’re still boring, but I can’t ignore the fact that they’re playing really well. So well, that Gregg Popovich sat Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli against the Jazz a few nights ago. San Anotonio is only a game back on Oklahoma City for first place in West, so you have to take them seriously. I’m not happy about it, but the Spurs are legit.
Oringal Prediction: Fraud
The Ramon Sessions trade helped the Lakers at the point guard spot, but I still have trouble trusting this team. Andrew Bynum has already blown up a few times this year, which has to make you nervous for the playoffs. Kobe is still hitting game winning shots, but he’s also still shooting too much. Pau Gasol’s pity tour finally ended once the trade deadline passed and he’s playing more focused, but this team is simply too fragile to be considered serious title contenders. One bad game in the playoffs could send this team into a tailspin, therefore they are still Frauds.
Original Prediction: Legit
What were you guys thinking letting me write that the Clippers were legitimate title contenders? Vinny Del Negro is still the coach right? I must have been tired of writing that last article by the time I got to them. Lob City is one of the most fun teams to watch in the league, but their halfcourt offense is still supsect and they don’t play defense particulary well. I’m a man who will admit when he’s wrong, and I definitely was on this one. Fraud
Original Prediction: Legit
Dallas was starting to play well when I wrote my first post and I assumed the defending champs were just knocking off some rust and would be fine by now. Nope. The Mavs have gone 11-13 since the All Star break. They’re clinging onto 7th place in the West, but Jason Kidd is hurt and Mark Cuban is fighting with his players during halftime. Dallas will be lucky to make the playoffs, let alone contend for the title. Fraud.
Finals Prediction, take two: Thunder vs. Heat. Same two teams as before, but I’m much less comfortable with it now as I was then. Miami has gotten lazy on defense lately and they won’t make it through the East without stepping it up. That being said, they’re still the most talented team and Derrick Rose’s injury issues scare me. Boston could also sneak into the Finals. Out West I just don’t see anyone beating the Thunder. San Antonio is nice, but I don’t think they can guard Durant and Westbrook in a 7 game series.