NBA snap predictions

Eastern conference

 

source: Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Boston Celtics:

Old age, and the lack of three-point specialist Ray Allen will hinder the Celtics run this season. Expect a fierce game against the defending NBA Champs Miami Heat. If they flounder in the playoffs, expect a long and arduous rebuilding period.

Brooklyn Nets:

New look, new name, new arena, but will the new Nets live up to all the hype? Anything less than a playoff spot will be disappointing.

New York Knicks:

Jeremy Lin is out, so the spotlight is back on Carmelo Anthony. Their first game against Brooklyn will make them play hard and expose their weaknesses. Expect another playoff berth, but none further than the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Philadelphia 76ers:

They lost Andre Iguodala, but gained a young and hungry Andrew Bynum. A playoff berth isn’t out of the question, but so is a first round knockout.

Toronto Raptors:

With their first five games against the Pacers, the Nets, the Thunder, and the Mavericks, don’t expect this team to see any wins anytime soon. Don’t expect a playoff berth in the Great White North either.

Chicago Bulls:

Derrick Rose is out, but luckily Luol Deng decided to postpone his wrist surgery. They lost Omer Asik, but their defense is still strong. Don’t expect another top of the table finish, but playoff berth is more than likely. Hopefully Rose will fully recover by the end of the season.

Cleveland Cavaliers:

What angers Cleveland fans more? That LeBron James won a ring in Miami, or that the team signed Luke Walton? At least Kyrie Irving is sticking around.

Detroit Pistons:

They traded Ben Gordon for an aging Corey Maggette. As if Detroit wasn’t depressing enough.

Indiana Pacers:

The Pacers good solid squad that had Miami a bit of a scare in the playoffs, but the team lacks big name talents. Expect another playoff berth, and another scare against championship contenders.

Milwaukee Bucks:

This team is pretty easy to over look, but they were 3rd in the league in assists and 5th in the league in points per game. This team is below everyone’s radar, and with the shift in power in the Eastern conference, they could sneak into an 8th place finish.

Atlanta Hawks:

Joe Johnson, the man who has brought the Hawks to the postseason since his arrival in 2005. They did add sharpshooter Kyle Korver who is in the twilight of his career. If they can stay above 8th place in the Eastern Conference before All-Star weekend, expect another playoff berth.

Charlotte Bobcats:

The Lakers are in town December 18th. That should be fun to watch. Another first round draft lottery is not out of the question.

Miami Heat:

The Miami Heat have been mostly quiet this offseason, except for the acquisition of three-point specialist Ray Allen. This Miami team will probably not be as title hungry as last season, but that won’t make them any easy to play.

Orlando Magic:

Howard’s gone, and so are the chances of another Magic playoff berth. There are so many frowns in a city next to the happiest place on earth.

Washington Wizards:

Trevor Ariza, Nene, and Emeka Okafor could win the Wizards a playoff berth. Eighth or seventh place would be ideal, but anything past the first round of the playoffs is a miracle.

 Western Conference predictions

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source: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Golden State Warriors:

Rookie sensation Stephen Curry is still recovering from injury. The Warriors recently made headlines for being Jeremy Lin’s first NBA team, and that’s where the flash ends. They won’t be the worst team, but certainly not playoff worthy.

Los Angeles Clippers:

Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan have brought glory back to the franchise. Expect Lamar Odom to be out for Lakers’ blood. Everyone in Los Angeles wants to see a Clippers-Lakers playoff series, which seems all the more probable.

Los Angeles Lakers:

Steve Nash and Dwight Howard fill the gaps the Lakers to become champions once again. Anything less than the championship will be a sever disappointment. I expect Howard to leave at the end of the season, if the Lakers fail to win the championship.

Phoenix Suns:

With the loss of Steve Nash and Grant Hill, this team is going under some serious rebuilding.  The signings of Michael Beasley and Goran Dragic are a step in the right direction, so the situation is not entirely hopeless in Phoenix.

Sacramento Kings:

The Cleveland Cavaliers of the west. Don’t expect much from this squad.

Dallas Mavericks:

The 2011 NBA Champions were swept in the 2012 playoffs, but don’t write this aging team out. Mark Cuban brought in Chris Kaman to support fellow German Dirk Nowitzki. Jason Carter will play backup to Shawn Marion.

Houston Rockets:

This team made some solid offseason moves by signing Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin to very lucrative contracts. I don’t think Lin is worth the $25-million contract, but he has a whole season to prove me wrong. The team also drafted some valuable college stars with Royce White and Jeremy Lamb.

Memphis Grizzlies:

This team is steadily improving with each season and a third consecutive playoff berth is more than likely. The sibling rivalry between Memphis center Marc Gasol and Lakers power forward Pau Gasol is also fun to watch.

New Orleans Hornets:

With a new owner and quality draft picks, New Orleans is looking to move on after Chris Paul’s controversial departure. The Western Conference is the toughest conference this season, so don’t be shocked if the Hornets fail to make it to the postseason.

San Antonio Spurs:

This team has been pretty quiet in the offseason, so expect the same lineup from last season give it another go.

Denver Nuggets:

The Nuggets proved that they didn’t need Carmelo Anthony and made it to the postseason twice after his departure. Now the Nuggets have signed Olympic gold medalist Andre Iguodala. Another playoff run is imminent.

Minnesota Timberwolves:

Tickets to home games are cheap, and Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio are still on the roster.

Oklahoma City Thunder:

They’re still a young exciting team that almost shocked the world last postseason. They haven’t been active in the offseason which is a good thing. They still need to make more assists if they actually want to win the finals.

Portland Trail Blazers

After failing to make the playoffs last postseason partially due to the loss of star center Marcus Camby, the Portland Trail Blazers made some promising draft picks and signings during the offseason. New coach Terry Stotts is optimistic for the upcoming season, but I’m not don’t expect a playoff berth.

Utah Jazz:

The Jazz are another solid team that is under people’s radar because of the lack of big-name talent. The Western Conference is a shark feeding frenzy for the 6th, 7th and 8th seeds.

 

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