Now that the playoffs are set in stone, let's breakdown the teams in detail. Here is how I see the teams stacking up against each other.
Please note: The following does not rank the teams' chances to win it all. I think, for example, the Utah Jazz are better than the Detroit Pistons, but the Pistons are more likely to win the championship because of the easy competition they will face in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Without further delay, let's get to it.
16. Atlanta Hawks
I actually think the Hawks have some good talent in Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and Al Horford. Most of this team is very young and unknown, and their bench/depth is not good. The future is somewhat bright for this franchise, but they'll be swept this year.
15. Philadelphia 76ers
Andre Iguodala is a stud and a borderline star. Andre Miller is solid at the point. Philadelphia is a feel-good story, but they are not a great team.
14. Toronto Raptors
Chris Bosh is a star, while Jose Calderon is improving at the point guard spot. Jason Kapono and Jamario Moon are solid role players. This team isn't great, and would not even be competitive in the West (same with Atlanta and Philadelphia).
13. Washington Wizards
The Wizards have Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. Gilbert Arenas is coming back. The talent is solid, and this team could be very good for years to come.
12. Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron, LeBron, and more LeBron. Z, Varejeo, and Daniel "Boobie" Gibson are solid, but the only reason the Cavs are even out of the lottery is LeBron. His incredible potential will carry the Cavs to great heights.
11. Orlando Magic
The Magic are a very good team. Dwight Howard is a stud, and Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, and Jameer Nelson are good. The Magic look better than they are because they are in the East, but they are still a very solid team.
10. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets are extremely talented. AI, Melo, Camby, Kenyon Martin, Nene. The Nuggets can score with anybody. The problem is their defense.
They also don't play great team basketball—too much one-on-one—and are not well coached. I like the individual players a lot, but the team doesn't have great chemistry.
9. Houston Rockets
Without Yao, the Rockets aren't a serious title contender, but they are good. Tracy McGrady has been playing great. Alston, Battier, Scola, Mutumbo, and Head make a solid rotation. The Rockets are solid, even by West standards.
8. Detroit Pistons
This group of Pistons' players is very experienced. Billups, Rip Hamilton, Prince, and 'Sheed are excellent. This team is a contender in the East, but might not be a contender in the West.
7. Dallas Mavericks
Despite past failures, there is a lot of talent in Dallas. Jason Kidd is a leader, Dirk Nowitzki is a tough matchup, and Jason Terry/Josh Howard/Jerry Stackhouse are good in the rotation. Dallas is a solid team, and is no easy opponent.
6. Utah Jazz
The Jazz are unbeatable at home. Boozer and Deron Williams make a great combo. Okur, Korver, Kirilinko, and Ronnie Brewer make a solid rotation. The Jazz are a title contender if they can just win some road games.
5. New Orleans Hornets
I know that Chris Paul is great, and David West is an All-Star. Also, Peja and Tyson Chandler are solid. I just wonder about how playoff-tested they are. Paul has no playoff experience.
The Hornets are an uncertainty. How will they deal with the challenge that is the Western Conference playoffs?
4. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have Duncan, Parker, Ginobli, and Popovich. But they are getting old, and the supporting cast is on the decline. Horry, Finley, Bowen, and Brent Barry are fading fast. The experience is there, but "Father Time" is catching up to them.
3. Phoenix Suns
I really have a good feeling about the Suns. Stoudemire is an absolute stud, and a future MVP candidate. Nash is aging, but still can get it done.
Shaq provides the mojo and experience. He will be the shot in the arm that will revive the franchise's confidence.
Raja Bell, Grant Hill, and Sixth Man of the Year candidate Leandro Barbosa have played well.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are absolutely loaded. Kobe, Gasol, Odom, Fisher, Radmanovic, Farmer, Vujacic, Walton, and Turiaf make an excellent rotation.
Kobe is still the best player in the NBA. In the clutch, there is no player I would rather have than Kobe Bean Bryant.
The team has struggled a little lately, but I expect a deep, deep playoff run.
1. Boston Celtics
Allen, Pierce, and Garnett make up the Big Three, the best trio in the league. Perkins, House, Posey, and Powe are good in the rotation. Rondo has improved a lot this season, and Sam Cassell provides a veteran presence.
There you have it. My thoughts. Feel free to rip me as you please. Thanks for reading.
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