Miami Heat president Pat Riley has orchestrated many a blockbuster deal in his day, including the largest trade in league history in 2005 involving five teams and 13 players that sent Jason Williams, Antoine Walker and James Posey to Miami—providing the final components necessary to secure the Heat’s first title in franchise history in 2006.
Not to mention the magic wand he waved over the city last summer by securing the services of the superstar trio I like to call the Miami Treat: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Miami, as expected, did not pull the trigger on any trade deadline possibilities.
While the Heat will explore options to improve at the point guard and center positions in the future, moving Mike Miller or Udonis Haslem would be an admission—an admission that Miami is not as dominant as the realistic goal of five championships in five or six years would suggest.
Riley is not in the business of admissions.
What was he thinking yesterday while he watched many of his protégés hard at work?
Probably the same thing we all should be thinking—the real season starts tonight.
The major overhaul that has swept the NBA landscape leaves many teams hoping to build the required amount of chemistry necessary for deep playoff runs.
There is something fresh in the NBA today. And it’s refreshing.
San Antonio is on a mission this year. Memphis will be dangerous next year.
Prediction: SA 4-1
By acquiring Gerald Wallace, Portland can be a title favorite next season.
Prediction: DAL 4-2
3. Oklahoma City vs. 6 Denver:
Denver gives the Thunder all they can handle in this skill-versus-will matchup.
Oklahoma is too deep, but the Nuggets can be a dark horse next year if they remain intact and go through a full training camp.
Prediction: OKC 4-2
Unfortunately for New Orleans, they are paired with the only team they cannot beat in the first round.
Even with the unheralded yet significant addition of Carl Landry, the size down low is too much for the Hornets to overcome.
Prediction: LA 4-1
1. San Antonio vs. 4 Los Angeles:
Winners of nine of the NBA's last twelve titles, these old rivals delight the world with a classic seven-game slugfest marathon. The Spurs run out of steam.
Prediction: LAL 4-3
2. Dallas vs. 3 Oklahoma City:
The most exciting series in terms of highlight plays, OKC stamps their seal on the West for years to come.
Prediction: OKC 4-2
3. Oklahoma City vs. 4 Los Angeles:
The changing of the guard can be swift and severe. The Thunder have improved in the frontcourt significantly with the addition of Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammed, while the Lakers are a year older.
Prediction: OKC 4-1
1. Miami vs. 8 Indiana:
The Pacers have played the Heat tough all season.
Prediction: MIA 4-0
Boston is one injury away from being an older Philly. The 76ers future is bright, but the Celtics have waited all year for this time.
Prediction: BOS 4-2
Atlanta is one center away from being a title contender. Chicago is already there.
Prediction: CHI 4-2
Remember those blockbuster trades Orlando made early in the season? Me neither.
Prediction: NY 4-2
1. Miami vs. 5 New York:
An appetizer for things to come. New York will be a true force next season. In the meantime, the Heat are absolutely peaking at the right time.
Prediction: MIA 4-1
2. Boston vs. 3 Chicago:
A series that could rival the intensity of their first-round tilt in ’09. As I recall, didn't Noah call Chicago native Garnett “ugly” and ”mean”?
Had the Bulls enjoyed a healthy first year with Joakim and Boozer, things may have been different. They will be next year.
Prediction: BOS 4-3
1. Miami vs. 2 Boston:
Boston has had Miami’s number thus far. However, the Heat are rolling at this point.
The league is starting to accept the fact that James, Wade and Bosh's cohesiveness has only just begun.
Luckily, the rest of the teams are doing the best they can to avoid a seven-year run of Heat supremacy. That will have to wait until next year.
Prediction: MIA 4-1
1 Miami vs. 3 Oklahoma City:
Lakers-Celtics will be back again.
It may be another five or 10 years, but the two staple franchises will battle for history some time in the future.
For now, it is all about the Heat and Thunder. If they both keep their core intact, these two may find themselves in this same position two, three or four more times in the coming years. As for Round 1?
Prediction: Heat 4-2.
Finals MVP: Dwyane Wade