2010-11 NBA Predictions: Which NBA Teams Will Fall Short of Expectations?

marc mctCorrespondent IOctober 1, 2010

2010-11 NBA Predictions: Which NBA Teams Will Fall Short of Expectations?

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Delusions of Grandeur - a delusion that you are much greater and more powerful than you really are.

    TNT Analyst and former Houston Rocket Kenny Smith has said that you have to delude yourself to win a championship.

    He should know.

    After the Rockets won their first championship in 94, they entered the following postseason with an abysmal 47 wins becoming the sixth seed in the West.  

    Most of us know how that played out as the Rockets, once again, became the eventual world champions.  

    At the time however, they suffered the type of debilitating losses in the playoffs that no team had ever come back from. 

    Miraculously, undeterred by nearly universal pronouncements of the team's fate, they became the first franchise to overcome both a 2-0 and 3-1 series deficit in a seven-game series. 

    Smith has stated on more than one occasion, that his teams delusional belief in themselves when all others doubted them, enabled the Rockets to do the seemingly impossible and eventually repeat.

    So what of the coming NBA Season?  

    Many teams know their fate as evidenced by the brutally honest, if optimistic, full page ad issued in the papers by Timberwolves President David Khan.  

    Sobering, but realistic.  Teams of this ilk (most in the NBA), will play to develop chemistry, play to improve. 

    But this is not about those teams.  This is about the teams and their supporters who invariably will discover that they suffer from type of delusions for which many therapists would recommend treatment. 

Atlanta Hawks

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    Joe JohnsonKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Paying franchise player Joe Johnson more than any of the Miami Trio should tell us all we need to know about the Hawks.  They are stuck in neutral and thus are the epitome of delusional.  

    Joe is a ridiculous talent, but that doesn't make him a No. 1.  The fact that they continue to get bounced from the second round of the playoffs as his numbers shrink is evidence of that.

    Moreover, Jamal Crawford, the player most responsible for the Hawks' overall improvement last season, hasn't received an extension and is not happy.  

    He's made it known in no uncertain terms that he will leave and where will that leave the Hawks?  Worse than they are now, which isn't very good.

    Truthfully, the Hawks are not bad, but in a conference where the best were clearly better than them and others improved, Atlanta simply isn't good enough.

    The proof?  Having lost out on the Shaquille O'Neal sweepstakes (detect the irony) to the Celtics, the Hawks landed the next game changer on their list–Etan Thomas.  Enough said.

Dallas Mavericks

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    Mark Cuban

    Without knowing for certain whether the team is deluded, owner Mark Cuban definitely is.  

    The Mavs have perennial all star Dirk Nowitzki leading them.  However, as long as that is the case, they will fall short of expectations.  

    Yes, the team is as deep as its ever been and Cuban is telling anyone who will listen about it. 

    But, contrary to his belief, that isn't enough to get it done.  One has only to look at the 2006 finals to remember that as talented as Nowitzki is, he doesn't have it.

    By “it,” I mean the killer instinct required to be a champion in this league.  Ergo, through simple reasoning, the Mavs don't and won't have it as long as he remains their leader.

    And should anyone remark that basing a team's outlook on something that happened nearly four years ago, need I remind you of the Mavs ousting at the hands of the Spurs in first round of the 2010 playoffs.  

    Losing to an aging Spurs team that was swept shortly thereafter by the Suns is hardly encouraging.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Kevin Durant

    Many have prognosticated that Oklahoma City will challenge the Lakers out West, having ranked them as high as second and no less than fourth overall in the league.  

    Seriously?!?

    Steven (I broke the news about “the Decision” first) A. Smith is chief among OKC’s supporters often shouting it from the rooftops. 

    This is delusion to the Nth degree.  

    Kevin Durant's impressive showing in the FIBA world championships notwithstanding, OKC will fall short because they can't go much farther as constructed presently.  

    Yes, they are a year older and a year wiser.  They have intangibles, synergy and youth.  

    Yes, they are the realization of the blueprint as attempted by the Blazers; however, they haven’t yet experienced any of the adversity that comes with the injury bug–something all teams face sooner or later. 

    Moreover, teams are ready for them this year.  And, no matter what they do, there is still the little matter of the Los Angeles Lakers. 

    Certainly they made some noise by extending the Lakers to six games in the first round of the playoffs; however, the Lakers are notorious for sleepwalking in early rounds.  

    Without taking anything away from the Thunder and all they’ve accomplished, they lost to a banged-up Lakers team. 

    If anyone hasn’t been paying attention, the Lakers got better.  

    For all of their prowess and the attention sure to be showered on a very deserving Durant, they won't improve by leaps and bounds until the Lakers relinquish the crown out west.

Orlando Magic

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    Dwight Howard

    The Magic are between a rock and a hard place. The rock would be Miami and the hard place would be the Celtics.

    They are in a can't-win scenario having to face these two eastern conference powers (the former of which is certain to be a juggernaut).  

    GM Otis Smith and Coach Stan Van Gundy think the team is better, but not me.  They still don't have Turkoglou and gave up the toughest guy on their team, Matt Barnes.  

    In a best-case scenario, they give Miami all they can handle and come out on top, but as constructed, they still can't beat the Celtics.  The weaknesses that matchup exposed are still there.  

    The Celts manhandled the Magic last year so, what’s different?  

    This year, the Celtics have Shaq insurance, not to mention a wave of big men that include Perkins, Jermaine O'Neal and Big Baby.  

    The Magic are formidable and will do considerable damage this year for all the good it will do them.  

    By staying largely pat, the Magic have proven themselves to be truly delusional.

Miami Heat

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    Bosh, Wade, James

    "Just because you are a character, doesn't mean you have character.

    Famous words uttered by Harvey Keitel as the Wolf in Pulp Fiction.

    The Decision, the celebration, the predictions... Miami has it all on display.

    Their names are a veritable pantheon of talent in the NBA–Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh. 

    Already their god-like reputations and sculpted physiques have cast a shadow on the rest of the league.  

    In fact, so lofty are the expectations for this squad, that they can’t help but fail.

    Shocked yet?  Don’t be.

    Anything… I repeat, anything less - than -  a - championship - is  - a - disappointment…for this team. 

    Why?  

    Seemingly overnight they have become the equivalent of Rockstars (gods on earth) as such they will be getting everyone's best shot. 

    Given the hype, the attention and the King's own proclamations of more than seven championships during the trio's inaugural celebration, the Heat need to win and need to win now.  

    Not just 73 games as exclaimed by TNT analyst Jeff Van Gundy (which won't happen).  

    Yes, I know the Bulls did it, but Jordan (who probably did descend from Olympus), isn't here.  They will be up for the challenge most nights but invariably they will relax; it's human nature.

    Jeff Van Gundy and others are leading a massive charge of hyperbole for Miami...all the while the pressure keeps mounting.

    Make no mistake, the Heat will be great.

    What they will be most great at: selling out arenas, entertaining millions night in and night out, putting up gaudy numbers and obliterating many teams with reckless abandon.  That’s nice, but it’s not enough.

    They need to win the big prize the grand daddy of them all – the Larry O'Brien.  Only they won't.  But they’re Gods right?  Or maybe, false prophets?

    The NBA is comprised of two seasons and when the post-season arrives (dubbed the “real” season by many), they will be tested.  Sound familiar? 

    LeBron knows this all to well from experience.  It's the reason he left Cleveland for the sunny shores of Miami.

    This is different, as he’s surrounded by more talent than he’s ever known, but the end will be the same. 

    No matter how many wins they rack up, the Heat will have to face Orlando AND Boston, unless their positioning is such that either of those teams face each other first.  

    Which could happen, but I doubt it.  Besides it would never ever be as great a spectacle.

    ESPN's John (I live statistics) Hollinger has Miami as a runaway No. 1, and even he's not sure Miami has what it takes to compete with Dwight Howard's size.  

    I certainly agree and believe additionally that they will struggle against defensive savvy Boston.

    While these battles will be epic and send TV ratings through the roof, Miami has to remain the last team standing for the loftiest expectations and the delusions that accompany them to mean a thing.  

    Don't believe me?  Just ask Kenny Smith.