The first half of the NBA season was far from unpredictable. The good teams played well and the bad teams played poorly. The superstars shined brightly and the role players played their roles. Nothing too crazy took place.
Well, look for that to change in the next four months.
Everything is shaping up to be a spectacular second half and playoffs.
There are four teams (Cleveland, L.A. Lakers, San Antonio, Boston) who are seemingly the creme of the crop. They seemed destined to meet in their respective conference finals.
But, as the cantankerous Lee Corso would say, "not so fast, my friend."
Here are some predictions for the rest of this season:
LeBron James will be the league MVP
Yes, I know, what a shocking statement, but hear me out.
This will be as close a race as there has been in some time. We have Kobe Bryant who is going to carry the Bynum-less Lakers to the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs.
There is Dwayne Wade who is putting up monster numbers with nary a supporting cast.
Dwight Howard has the Magic in the thick of the race, and will be even more important to that team with Jameer Nelson's recent injury
Don't count out Chauncey Billups stealing some votes as well. He has energized a Denver team and has them poised for a decent playoff run.
But, in the end, LeBron is doing things that we mere mortals have never seen. He has Cleveland, a franchise which is devoid of any type of championship history, as possibly the favorites to be kissing the Larry O'Brien.
The Houston Rockets will NOT make the playoffs
Yes, they are winning at a .604 clip this year and have immense talent, but I see them slipping the second half and being on the outside looking in come mid April. Here are a few reasons:
- T-Mac's faulty back will keep them from establishing any type of continuity.
- Yao Ming will undoubtedly miss at least 6-8 more games.
- Ron Artest is due for a meltdown.
- I don't believe in Von Wafer coming through consistently is T-Mac misses time.
- Phoenix, Utah, Dallas and New Orleans will pass them in the standings and Houston will be the odd team out.
Orlando will lose in the first round
Whether they play Detroit, Miami or Atlanta, I don't see them making it out of the first round, especially if Jameer can't come back.
Orlando reminds me of the Garnett led T'Wolves teams that had good regular seasons but couldn't get out of the first round. This team is not built for playoff basketball. They rely too much on the three ball and are below average on the defensive end.
They also don't have much depth on the front line if Howard gets in foul trouble. I mean, do you really want Marcin Gortat playing meaningful minutes in a Game Five on the road in Miami? He sounds like he should be playing Rafael Nadal in the second round of the French Open.
The Nuggets will reach the Western Conference Finals
Yes, my man crush on Chauncey Billups may have blurred my vision a tad, but I just like the way this team matches up against the likes on San Antonio, Dallas and New Orleans.
Carmelo Anthony, without the fanfare of other superstars, has transformed his game and has learned how to play with a proven floor general (Billups).
Kenyon Martin and Nene have resurrected their careers and have become formidable on the low block. They can also run the floor and are good enough in the half court to defend the likes of Tim Duncan or Dirk Nowitzki.
J.R. Smith can take a game over with his outside shooting and athleticism. He has also improved on the defensive side of the ball and could be a valuable asset as a defensive stopper come playoff time.
George Karl has been there before, and with this group he has done an excellent job of transforming this team to fit the personnel they have on their roster.
There will be a brawl within the next five weeks
Here is how I see it going down:
Steve Nash misses a three, Shaq pulls down an offensive rebound while elbowing Erick Dampier in the back of the head. Dampier turns around and hacks Shaq across the wrists so hard that it sends him sprawling into the camera men.
Louis Amundson takes exception with the hard foul and gets in Dampier's face and says something that no one really understands. In comes Brandon Bass with a forearm shiver to the back of Amundson's head. Shaq then gets up and goes after Bass, plowing over Steve Nash in the process like he just hit a raccoon with his truck.
Josh Howard then attacks Nash as he is lying on the ground because he doesn't have the guts to get in Shaq's way. Then, in a bizarre turn of events, Dirk comes to the aid of Nash and puts Howard in a headlock while Nash gives him blows to the stomach.
While all of this is going on, Robin Lopez is sitting on the Suns bench in tears screaming that violence isn't the answer. Meanwhile, in the press box, Terry Porter, dressed in disguise, attacks Steve Kerr.
It all ends when Dirk and Nash "accidentally" kiss at midcourt in the middle of the fracas. Everyone then stops and there is an awkward silence for about 20 seconds.
That's how it is going to happen. Mark my words.
David Stern will cancel his Viagra prescription because Kobe and LeBron will meet in the NBA Finals
Need I say more?
It's Magic vs. Bird version 2.0. The Cavs will beat the Celtics in 6 and advance to the Finals to play L.A. There will be so much buzz around this series I can already feel the commissioners nether regions start to tingle.
This series will settle the argument, at least for the time being, of who the best player in the NBA is, LeBron or Kobe.
I see Cleveland taking the series in seven games, and LeBron hoisting the Finals MVP trophy.
These are just some things that could happen...