There's The Spurs And Then...(NBA Preview)
- Which teams are legitimately contending for a title and which teams are legitimately pretending that they are contending?
Well, your legitimate contenders are as follows...
- San Antonio, well, they're the champions.
- Phoenix, probably the only team out West that's legitimately not afraid of the Spurs. We'll be arguing the validity of the Suns/Spurs series for forever and a day, but if it can't be done for this team this year, I dunno.
I will say that Kerr put himself and the team in a major hole by dealing the only big on their team that can kinda guard The Big F'N Dynasty known as Tim Duncan.
- Houston. Anyone who knows Adelman knows a few things...he's real infamous for choking in the playoffs with really good teams and oh yeah, he's good at running offenses that have versatile to fairly decent big men and two guards who can shoot. The last time Adelman had a team that was anywhere near this deep or talented, I'd venture to say he was in Portland.
- Dallas. What?! Not the Mavs! Yes. I'm not joining the endless masses who will drink the Cuban Cool-Aid, thinking these guys will finally figure out a way to put it all together in the playoffs. If two years ago never happened, sure. But these guys followed up an epic Finals collapse with the worst first round meltdown in NBA history. Nothing's topping last year's owning by Golden State. If you remove the two games where Cuban Court advantage factored into the equation, the Mavs would've been swept. Beyond bringing in Eddie Jones, this team did absolutely nothing to show me they're ready to atone. Speaking of teams that did nothing...
- Cleveland. Let me make this short and sweet. They had no business being in the Finals a year ago and the moves they made this offseason will ensure they don't return. But L, they made no moves in the offseason. Exactly.
- Detroit. Last year's meltdown against the Cavs was the Buster Douglas moment for this franchise. As in basically, it's the knockout that all but seals the deal for this group. Make no mistake, you're not going to find a lineup this potent anywhere outside of Phoenix and Dallas. Really ya won't. But as it is with all teams following Larry's departure, they're never the same and this team has not been the lockdown personified team they were in the middle half of this decade.
Conversely, unlike these other clowns I've got a few of my 'Nightmare' teams in that sleeping on these teams can be incredibly hazardous to your health.
- Denver. One part of this is Melo biased, the other half is that they're a legitimate sleeper. Yeah, I get that K-Mart's about as fragile as cheap China on a speedboat. I get that Karl's something of an enigma as a head coach and the Melo Answer duo didn't exactly do what was expected
in its first half season. Here's the scary thing though that folks are really overlooking...
A) Both Iverson and Anthony want that ring and quiet be kept, you're not going to find a more lethal one-two punch in the league. Anthony's the deadliest scoring threat in the Association and Iverson's still a nightmare to guard one on one, don't think that ankle shattering crossover of his is getting any worse with age.
B) Denver's lone playoff debacles have come to the Wolves (In the lone year KG actually had legitimate help and considering who it was, take it for what you will), Clippers (It's considered an "upset" only because the Nugs were the higher seed) and the Spurs twice (even Jordan couldn't get around the Celtics and Pistons in their prime before he became "Jordan").
All that said, if Melo can figure a way around the Spurs who have been the lone legitimate obstacle he can't get around, they're going to wreak havoc in the playoffs. Remember, just seven years ago, George Karl took a Bucks team that had Ray Shuttlesworth and a bunch of nobodies to the Eastern Conference Finals. So it's proven that Karl can coach a team to the promised land, it's just up to him to get them back there.
- Washington. The Wizards? Yeah. Remember, Boston's not the only team in the Least with a high octane trio. The Wiz have their own and if it weren't for Arenas going down for the year last season, we're not talking about the Leastern Conference Champion Cavaliers because Agent Zero wouldn't have let the Cavs sink him twice in the postseason. I think they've got more than enough firepower in a conference where not
a ton's needed. Speaking of...
- Golden State. I'll let you all in on a little secret...this isn't a one shot deal with these guys. I believe they're that good and simply put, Nellie's building these boys up in a way he didn't do with Dallas. Picture the Mavs
if they had a Baron and Stephen Jackson type on their team to get in your face and play smothering D. They're deep and give or take a break or two in their favor (seeing Dallas again in the playoffs certainly wouldn't hurt), they can make a serious run towards the Finals.
- New Jersey. Homer, right? Yeah and there's something people have so totally forgotten. The Nets have won two Eastern Conference crowns in this decade. They haven't forgotten how to win, even if everyone finds it conveinent to think they have. I was righteously disappointed with how things fell apart last year, downright infuriated when they folded up like church chairs to the LeBrons in the East Semis. Bottom line, before they hit Crooklyn, I'd like to see them make ONE last Finals run and cap it off with an actual title.