The 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston takes place this Sunday, marking the unofficial halfway point of the NBA season. The first full season since 2010-2011 has brought several interesting headlines, as well as several familiar themes from last season. I’m going to break down what I think are the most important aspects of the season thus far, and then predict what I think the outcomes will be.
The New Look Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers were the story of the offseason when they acquired Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash and superstar center Dwight Howard in the quest for Kobe Bryant to get his 6th championship. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, that has not been going too well for them. After firing Mike Brown following a 1-4 start, the Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni but have not performed much better. Amid injuries and a disappointing season from Howard, the Lakers have stumbled to a losing record and would not even make the playoffs if the season ended today. My prediction is that maybe they can go on a run and make a push for the 8 seed in the Western Conference, but most likely they will miss the playoffs and Dwight Howard will leave in free agency.
Defending Champs Haven’t Missed a Beat
Led by Lebron James who is having another MVP season (27.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 6.9 apg, 56.5% FG), the Miami Heat sit atop the Eastern Conference yet again, in prime position for another run to the NBA Finals. A key part of their success this year has been the acquisition of Hall of Famer Ray Allen, who left the Boston Celtics in free agency to join the defending champs. Allen has been a big boost for Miami off the bench and provides a deadly 3 point threat anywhere on the court. My prediction is that Miami will once again win the Eastern Conference, and barring any injuries, win the NBA Finals for the second straight year.
Lob City takes over Los Angeles
After a third consecutive win over the Lakers, this time in a blowout, the Clippers established themselves as the team to beat in Los Angeles. Perhaps the deepest team in the NBA, the Clippers are led by All Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, with complementary players such as Deandre Jordan, Caron Butler, Jamal Crawford, and Lamar Odom. The result has been a rise to 3rd place in the Western Conference. My prediction is that the Clippers will be a force in the playoffs. With last year’s playoff experience under their belt, I believe the Clippers will earn a berth in the Western Conference Finals.
The Houston Rockets made some noise in the Western Conference by acquiring point guard Jeremy Lin and sixth man of the year James Harden in the offseason. Harden has been spectacular for the Rockets and Lin has had his fair share of good games as well. The two have made Houston one of the best offensive teams in the NBA. After missing the postseason last year, Houston currently sits at number 8 in the Western Conference this year. My prediction is that the Rockets will earn a playoff berth as either a 7 or an 8 seed.
The Boston Celtics have been perhaps one of the most inconsistent teams in NBA history this season. Due partly to injuries in the likes of Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo, and Jared Sullinger, the Celtics have lost to teams like the Cavaliers, Hornets, and Bobcats, and beaten teams such as the Heat, Thunder, and Clippers. They became the first team in NBA history to win 6 in a row, lose 6 in a row, and then win 6 in a row. They currently sit at the 7 seed in the Eastern Conference right now. My prediction is that they will move up to the 5 or 6 seed, and give either the Knicks or Pacers a run for their money in the first round.
MVP – Lebron James (MIA)
Rookie of the Year – Damian Lillard (POR)
Coach of the Year – Mark Jackson (GSW)
Who do you guys think will win the NBA Finals this year? Let me know by voting in the poll down below.
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