The 2013-14 NBA schedule has just been released, finally giving fans a chance to see the road their favorite teams will need to navigate in order to make the playoffs.
You can view the entire slate of games for the upcoming campaign over at NBA.com.
With this information in hand, it’s time to take a crack at predicting how each club will perform during the 2013-14 season.
Keep reading to check out my predicted wins, losses and playoff odds for every team in the league, plus some bold predictions for the postseason and more.
Bold Predictions for 2013-14 Campaign
Cavaliers Make Playoff Push
The Cleveland Cavaliers are poised to make a playoff appearance at the end of the 2013-14 campaign—if their key players can stay healthy, that is.
General manager Chris Grant has certainly proved to be the right man to rebuild the club in the post-LeBron James era.
He was able to nab free-agent center Andrew Bynum, No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Bennett and No. 19 overall selection Sergey Karasev to round out a core that includes emerging superstar Kyrie Irving, scorer Dion Waiters and big man Tristan Thompson.
After three straight years without a playoff appearance under Byron Scott, coach Mike Brown has returned and is hoping to pick up where he left off in 2009-10, leading the team to 60-plus wins and having an MVP winner on the roster.
While that’s a bit far-fetched, it’s not a stretch to say that Irving and his new and improved supporting cast will break through this coming season.
Warriors Break Through
The Golden State Warriors are my pick to make a serious breakthrough in 2013-14, winning at least 50 games—I have them penciled in for 55—and making a deep foray into the playoffs.
Traditionally, an elongated run for Golden State would be winning a game or two in the second round, but not this coming year. The squad is coming off a valiant effort against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals and should only go up from there.
By dumping a number of bad contracts, the Warriors were able to clear enough space to ink Andre Iguodala to a new deal, adding the third-banana scorer and wing-stopper they needed to upgrade from a token playoff team to a serious championship contender.
Iggy’s ability to lock down the top perimeter option and take some defensive pressure off of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson is being underestimated now, but it’s all fans will be talking about by the time the playoffs roll around next spring.
Given the success of last year’s young squad and the big additions this summer, don't be surprised in the slightest when the Dubs are fighting tooth and nail in the conference finals come late April.
This is my pick to emerge from the West and challenge the Heat in 2014.
Despite the numerous feel-good stories surrounding downtrodden franchises, the Miami Heat are going to once again show that talent trumps all and win their third straight championship after a fourth straight Finals appearance.
The regular season may be a bit rocky—as the squad will struggle to stay motivated at times and has to account for nagging injuries to aging stars like Dwyane Wade—but when it comes down to business, Miami will not fold.
King James is simply the best player in basketball and should be a favorite to win his fifth NBA MVP award. He’s absolutely unstoppable at this juncture and that makes it hard to foresee an opponent overcoming his Heat.
Although it nearly happened in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers and NBA Finals against San Antonio, the Heat will once again manage to escape the playoffs unscathed and will not be dethroned this year.