Friday, November 02, 2007

Hoops Hype

I've been floored pretty badly by a viral infection - the sickest 24 hours I've had in years! - I was vomitting, feverish, aching all over and literally bedridden all of yesterday. Was very thankful to two of my friends who, at their inconvenience, brought over porridge for dinner. The fever appears to have burned itself out, so I can actually get out of bed today, although my back still hurts pretty badly. Can't make it to dinner with a friend as originally planned though.

Anyway, time for a change of pace. A new NBA season is now underway! Last season was pretty good in that there were no outright favourites, the only disappointment being that the Cleveland Cavaliers were completely overmatched against the Spurs in the Finals. But this season proves to be just as intriguing.

First up of course is the Boston Celtics, who made not one, but two blockbuster trades to acquire Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. Together with Paul Pierce, that's easily the best trio in the NBA. The problem is they're pretty thin elsewhere. The bench isn't as horrible as some have suggested: Tony Allen is talented if a bit hotheaded, Eddie House will always get you some points even if he plays no defence, but getting James Posey is the real coup, he'll be a reliable sixth man. I figure they'll win the Eastern Conference though, and should be the favourite to make the Finals.

The Eastern Conference still isn't as strong as the West. The Chicago Bulls have a great talented core: Luol Deng and co. If they still have Tyson Chandler I'll say they're the best team in the East. But they don't, but this is still a very good team and will challenge the Celtics for the East. The Detroit Pistons have kept their veteran starting five, but I wonder if they've reached their peak. They'll still be a force to reckon with, however...Ditto with New Jersey Nets, good trio of Kidd, Carter and Jefferson, interesting addition of Magloire, but I don't think it's quite enough. And my team Orlando Magic overpaid to get Rashard Lewis. He's a very good, but not great player. Still, if Dwight Howard were to improve...the Cleveland Cavaliers have done nothing this summer and will not be back in the Finals unless they swing a trade for a good point guard. Miami Heat? No longer a good team. Expect the New Orleans Hornets to improve...

The Western Conference is still where all the powerhouses are, though. I have a huge soft spot for the San Antonio Spurs and wouldn't begrudge them a succesful defence of their title. But the neutral's choice surely must be the exciting Phoenix Suns who again came so agonisingly close last year. And with all-round good guy Grant Hill now on their team, you really want them to win one. Losing Kurt Thomas hurts though...Dallas Mavericks have officially earned the choker tag - favourites the last two years and botching it up each time. They still have the deepest team in the league, and it won't be a surprise if they once again finish the regular season with the best record. Utah Jazz are interesting. They have an underrated starting five, and Boozer and Williams will probably be recognised as All-Stars this year. Houston Rockets also have that deadly inside-out tandem of Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady with a fairly strong supporting cast, but the questions are still the same: Can McGrady stay healthy and will there be team chemistry? Denver Nuggets are most definitely a dark horse. The LA Lakers are more like Hollywood at the moment...

So who'd I like to win? I know the Magic won't, so once again, it's that sentimental favourite - the Phoenix Suns. I want Nash and Hill to retire with at least one ring to their names.

Oh, and I've succumbed to playing Fantasy NBA for the fifth time!

Bonus: Top 10 plays of the 2006/07 season

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