On June 17, 2010, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in an epic, defensively-orientated seven game series to repeat as NBA champions. During the summer of 2010, the landscape of the NBA has changed and although it seems that the power has shifted to the East somewhat, the NBA championship and the league's best team still remain in the West. Every free agent move in the summer of 2010 has paled in comparison to the star trio assembled in Miami, but despite the lack of press the Lakers have made great moves to improve their bench and give themselves more depth and toughness. Gone are the likes of Jordan Farmar and Josh Powell and new to the purple & gold lifestyle are the likes of Matt Barnes, Steve Blake and Theo Ratliff. Provided that everyone stays healthy, there's no reason that the Lakers can't come out of the West and get back to the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year, but it won't be easy, here are a few teams that might be potential roadblocks to celebrating another Larry O'Brien trophy in Tinseltown:
The Dallas Mavericks have had a quiet, but productive off-season.They resigned Brenden Haywood and traded for Tyson Chandler, now they have a tough physical shot-blocker in both their starting lineup and their 2nd unit. With their size, rebounding and physicality in the post, the Mavericks are ready to give any team in the West a fight. My only concern is that Dallas is a team that will do great in the regular season, but fall apart in the postseason, let's see how they hold up this year.
Dallas Mavericks vs Los Angeles Lakers: LAL wins 4-2
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs' core is old, but that's no reason to count them out. They still have the greatest power forward ever in Tim Duncan, one of the best PG's in the league in Tony Parker and one of the best sixth men in the league in Manu Ginobli. If anyone can top the Lakers out West, it's the Spurs.(Let's see how Tiago Splitter fits in San Antonio this year, it should be interesting)
San Antonio Spurs vs Los Angeles Lakers: LAL wins 4-2 or SA wins 4-2(slight possibility)
The Orlando Magic really haven't done much this off-season besides signing Quentin Richardson and Chris Duhon, they're basically still the same team from years ago, minus the ability to create of Hedo Turkoglu. Until they make some minor adjustments, they're not ready to dethrone the Lakers.
Orlando Magic vs Los Angeles Lakers: LAL wins 4-2
The Miami Heat had the best off-season of any team in the NBA, they resigned Dwyane Wade and signed Lebron James and Chris Bosh. Despite their stellar off-season, they too are not ready to challenge the Lakers. With no size or post presence on the defensive end of the floor, the Lakers' bigs would run rough shot over any of Miami's big men and they would dominate rebounding and points in the paint, there's no one on the Heat that can defend one of the Lakers big men without giving up a height, weight or strength advantage.
Miami Heat vs Los Angeles Lakers: LAL wins 4-2
The Celtics have made quite a few pickups of their own this off-season, signing veteran big men Shaquille and Jermaine O'Neal, resigning Nate Robinson, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and signing the firecracker known as Von Wafer and bringing back Delonte West. With Perkins still recovering from his knee injury, the O'Neals will fill the hole at the 5 and the Celtics have enough wings that can split minutes and give Rondo and Ray Allen a rest. Despite losing Tony Allen, the Celtics are still in great shape, but at some point before the playoffs, they're going to have to pick up a backup small forward who has the ability to defend players like Kobe and Lebron during a 7 game playoff series. The main issues for the Celtics this season will be age, consistency and health, if they can avoid the meltdowns and lapses of last season, they'll be in good shape come playoff time.
Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers: BOS wins 4-3(provided that everyone stays healthy)