NBA Predictions: Dec. 22

Magnus JohnsonCorrespondent IDecember 23, 2009

BOSTON - NOVEMBER 20: Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics celebrates after a play during the game against the Orlando Magic on November 20, 2009 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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This year in the NBA has been one to remember. There's been a four-team race in the East, while the West has been dominated by the defending champions.

New additions have helped multiple teams, as they fight for the first seed in their conferences (or, from the West's perspective, the second seed).

But, when everything is said and done, who will lift the miraculous golden trophy at the end of the year?


1. Boston Celtics: Rasheed Wallace has been huge this year, helping the C's fight for the No. 1 seed and pull away from the other three powerhouses in the East. 

2. Atlanta Hawks: Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, and Al Horford are just a few names affiliated with the Hawks' ride to greatness this season, and it's looking up for ATL. 

3. Orlando Magic: Vince Carter has more than replaced Hedo Turkoglu, and one can only imagine how great the Magic will be once Jameer Nelson gets back. 

4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Shaq hasn't quite lived up to expectations, but a lot of other players have contributed to a so far disappointing season that the Cavs were supposed to dominate. 

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5. Detroit Pistons: This star-filled lineup hasn't developed the chemistry needed to do well in this league, but once they do, they'll not only get to .500, they'll get well above it. 

6. Miami Heat: Although the Heat is becoming a one-man show again, it's important to remember that one-man show is run by D-Wade. 

7. Toronto Raptors: Turkoglu hasn't been a star up in "Eh?" country, but he and Bosh put together will make it to the playoffs, if not very far into them. 

8. Washington Wizards: Agent Zero hasn't brought the Wizards up to their expected level this season, but a late-season run will help them cling to the last playoff spot.

9. Milwaukee Bucks

10. Indiana Pacers

11. Chicago Bulls

12. Charlotte Bobcats

13. Philadelphia 76ers

14. New York Knicks

15. New Jersey Nets


1. Los Angeles Lakers: Come on. Didn't everybody know this would be how it finishes? Gasol, Odom, Kobe, Bynum, and Artest can only equal one thing: success.

2. Denver Nuggets: 'Melo's patented yelling of "I'm Back!" early in the season left people thinking, "When did he leave?"

3. Dallas Mavericks: Shawn Marion has helped the Mavs start their season surprisingly, and I don't think Dirk is going to let them finish any other way. 

4. San Antonio Spurs: SA's slow start can only be described as shocking, but Tim Duncan and the Spurs have clawed their way to .500 already, and won't stop there. 

5. Oklahoma City Thunder: Although those hideous KD creamsicle shoes didn't work, KD himself should work in helping OKC come back from a slow start and clinch their first franchise playoff berth. 

6. Phoenix Suns: Wow. An all-but-shocking start to the season for the Suns won't last forever, but the aging Suns won't fall too far and will definitely make the playoffs no matter what. 

7. New Orleans Hornets: CP3 has had a disappointing start to the season along with the rest of the Bees, but they'll come around and push their way onto the playoff chart real soon. 

8. Sacramento Kings: Tyreke Evans has been no less dominant in Sacramento than he was in Memphis, and he'll soon find himself preparing for a date with Kobe Bryant.

9. Houston Rockets

10. Utah Jazz

11. Portland Trail Blazers

12. Los Angeles Clippers

13. Memphis Grizzlies

14. Golden State Warriors 

15. Minnesota Timberwolves

Playoffs—Round One


1. Boston over 8. Washington, 4-1

2. Atlanta over 7. Toronto, 4-3

6. Miami over 3. Orlando, 4-3

4. Cleveland over 5. Detroit, 4-2


1. Los Angeles (L) over 8. Sacramento, 4-0

2. Denver over 7. New Orleans, 4-3

3. Dallas over 6. Phoenix, 4-2

5. Oklahoma City over 6. San Antonio, 4-2

Playoffs—Round Two


1. Boston over 6. Miami, 4-2

4. Cleveland over 2. Atlanta, 4-3


1. Los Angeles (L) over 5. Oklahoma City, 4-1

3. Dallas over 2. Denver, 4-3

Playoffs—Conference Championships


1. Boston over 4. Cleveland, 4-2


1. Los Angeles (L) over 3. Dallas, 4-2


1E. Boston Celtics over 1W. Los Angeles Lakers, 4-3

Finals MVP—PG 9 Rajon Rondo