It's All-Star weekend. . the 1/2 way point of the NBA season. I will try to keep this short, so as to not bore the masses.
1. The Lakers are not winning the NBA title.
Whether it's the Nuggets in the West, or the Cavs in the East, the Lakers are doomed. They don't have enough athleticism. Artest is not necessarily a great defender, he's a brawler. So, whenever someone goes to the rim, he'll foul them. They should've kept Ariza. And, they have nothing at the point. Derek Fisher is one of my favorite all time players, but he gets abused by Chauncey Billups, Mo Williams, Rajon Rondo, and any other point guard on a contending team.
Kobe can still have the "take over" game. . . but that won't work over a 7 game series, they're giving up too much at the other positions now (Gasol, although brilliant offensively, has lost a step and cannot guard quicker forwards. . Nene abused those guys the last time the Nuggets came to town).
2. The Cavs are winning the East.
The Celtics still have a shot, but they need to be healthy and need to add a piece (which they might, this week). Orlando still gives everyone fits, but since they downgraded from Hedo T. to Vince Carter, they aren't scaring anyone anymore.
In case no one noticed. . .Shaq did his usual "February wake up" and has had 3 or 4 double-doubles in the last week. So, that will be there for them come playoff time. LeBron is the best player in the league, so they have that going for them as well :) .
Dark Horse: Rumors are swirling that Miami might pick up Amare Stoudamire this week via a trade. If that happens, I see them getting past Orlando, but not the Cavs/Celtics. But, that will at least make the East playoffs more fun.
3. We might be headed for contraction or more likely, a strike.
Labor negotiations are not going well, . . .and as an indication of the league's current economic woes, there were 1200 people at the Nets/Bucks game last night in New Jersey. That's right, 1200. ouch.
I think the contracts and salary cap will look very different in a couple of years,. . . . I hope they can figure stuff out before a work stoppage.
4. I'm picking the Nuggets (homer) out of the West.
If the Lakers make the Western Conference Finals (that's right, I said "if"), the Nuggets will be ready. We match up well with the Lakers this year, and we've beaten them twice, once without Carmelo. The only team in the West that might scare the Nuggets a bit is the Jazz. We don't match up well with them, and even though we won the season series 3-1,. . the Jazz were banged up for alot of those games.
Dallas is lost (we just beat them by 36 points) San Antonio is old (we beat them in S.A. without Carmelo) Portland is hurt. . . and Phoenix can't beat anyone else (except, apparently, the Nuggets).
It will be an exciting Spring in the Mile High City!