“This fall, I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.”
With a jolt, the 2011 NBA season began. I always imagined that at the moment LeBron James uttered that now infamous line, players from all around the NBA turned off their TV’s, packed their bags, and headed for the gym. This time, however, they practiced with a chip on their shoulder.
Nine months later, what a season it's been.
The 2011 NBA regular season has been one of the best in the last 20 years.
It had everything:
Veteran teams rallying for one last shot at a title (San Antonio, Boston), young and hungry teams ready to take on the establishment in each conference (Chicago, Oklahoma City), the NBA’s first true villain in over a decade (Miami), and the juggernaut vying for a three-peat (Los Angeles).
The storylines entering the playoffs are straight out of Hollywood. Can the Spurs and Celtics hold it together for a final run? Will the Heat make good on their promise to deliver a championship to Miami? Will the upstart Bulls and Thunder topple the dominant teams in their conference and usher in a new era of the NBA?
If the 2011 playoffs are even close to as good as the regular season, we are in for some epic battles.
With the playoffs just around the corner, it’s time to break down the championship odds for all 16 playoff teams (and my pick to win):