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Posted on: September 10, 2010 5:02 pm
 

Week 1 Picks & Early Season Predictions

Ah football season, the most magical time of year, where every Sunday basically turns into a national holiday and fantasy GM's hawk their player's stats.  I've gone through the schedule for the entire 2010 season and picked my winners early on, however I'm aware that things RARELY turn out the way we think they will.  Certain teams will flop that were in the playoffs last year (Cardinals anyone?) and some middle-of-the-road team will have a good year and push for a playoff spot.  Anyway, the beginning of this post will be my early playoff/Super Bowl predictions.  Following that will be my picks for week 1 (unrelated to my original picks, hey, things change ya know?)  Also, I'm a die-hard Packers fan, so you can see I'm just a lil biased! 

AFC Playoffs

New England
Cincinnati (Wildcard)    Baltimore                                AFC Championship
                                 Indianapolis                      Indianapolis vs. San Diego
Baltimore

NY Jets(Wildcard)         San Diego
                                 New England                                                                                           Super Bowl
                                                                                                                                         San Diego vs. Green Bay

NFC Playoffs

NY Giants                   San Francisco                          NFC Championship
Minnesota                   New Orleans                       New Orleans vs. Green Bay

San Francisco               Green Bay
Atlanta                         NY Giants



Week 1 Predictions

Browns vs. Buccaneers: I think this is the least exciting game of the weekend.  The Browns played well down the stretch last year and looked decent in the pre-season.  The Bucs are young, but should be improved this season.  I'm curious to get a glimpse of how Tampa uses Mike Williams and to see Jerome Harrison do his thing as the un-challenged starter in Cleveland.  I'm going with the Bucs by 4, simply because they're home and I don't have trust in Jake Delhomme just yet.  I also think Cadillac Williams has a good day on the ground.

Lions vs. Bears: Another crummy game.  I have Jay Cutler on my fantasy team (and he is starting BTW), so I absolutely HOPE he does well this year....However, I think the Bears are going to have a bad year and POSSIBLY finish worse than the Lions.  I could be wrong, but the Bears offensive line is a big worry for me right now, and the Lions have an improved D-line (Van Den Bosch, Suh) which could give Cutler problems.  I won't be surprised if the Lions pull out the upset, but my gut tells me to go with the Bears until the Lions prove themselves. I'll take the Bears by 6. (Though watch out for those Lions)

Dolphins vs. Bills: In case you haven't noticed yet, I'm getting most of the less-interesting games out of the way first.  Buffalo is going to be BAD this year (#1 pick probably?)  The only thing I'm looking forward to in Buffalo is C.J. Spiller.  I think the Bills will be competitive, but they don't have the talent to be a playoff contender yet.  I think the Dolphins are overrated by many.  Brandon Marshall is going to have a good year, not great, until Chad Henne matures.  The ground game will still be the focus here, and I think the Dolphins D will be solid.  I'll take the Dolphins by 4.

Cardinals vs. Rams: My girlfriend is in one of those Survivor leagues and needed my pick for a "sure thing" this week.  I told her to take the Cardinals.  Bradford is going to be good, probably real good....But this season is all going to be about growing pains.  If Steven Jackson stays healthy all year, they'll probably win 3-4 games.  This isn't one of them.  Cardinals by 7.

Chargers vs. Chiefs (Monday Night):  This was the other closest "sure thing" for me to pick, but it's not a definite.  Kansas City has surprised in their openers in the past, however, I just don't think this San Diego team gets caught in the trap.  I'm interested to see how KC gets Dexter McCluster involved (he is on my fantasy team after all) and Ryan Matthews should have a good game on the ground for San Diego.  I think the Chiefs offense will be much improved this season, but I think their defense is still going to hold them back this year. Meanwhile, San Diego even without Vincent Jackson, is still going to be a powerful offense.  Chargers by 7

Raiders vs. Titans: Call me crazy, but I believe the Raiders can be pretty good this year and it's going to come down to Jason Campbell.  Once Michael Bush is fully healthy, they're going to have a solid run game with him and Darren McFadden, and Campbell will definitely be an upgrade over Jamarcus Russell. The Oakland D should be good against the pass with Asomugha shutting down most team's #1 WR.  With all this said, I still think the Titans win this one. Chris Johnson should have a big day against one of the worst rush-defense teams in the league, and Vince Young will do enough to make sure the Titans win.  Plus, Tennessee is home.  Titans by 4

49ers vs. Seahawks: Many eyes will be on Pete Carroll, but I just don't think Seattle has the talent just yet to be a factor in the NFC west.  Meanwhile, Frank Gore is going to have a beastly year, Alex Smith will play the best football of his career thus far, and Michael Crabtree will put up impressive numbers.  Yeah, I like this 49ers team.  Niners by 6

Broncos vs. Jaguars: The loss of Elvis Dumervil is really going to hurt the Broncos this year, as is the departure of Brandon Marshall. Kyle Orton will be solid, and the running game should be good, but this team took a step back.  I've heard the Jaguars are going to pass more this year (Sims-Walker and Mike Thomas should put up some decent fantasy numbers), but this team is still going to be focused around Maurice Jones-Drew.  If he can stay healthy (current knee injury), I predict MJD will be a top 3 running back this year.  If they're to be successful on defense, they MUST improve upon their pash rush.  With that said, I'll give this one to the Jaguars because they're home and I'm doubting Denver until they prove me otherwise.  Jaguars by 3

Bengals vs. Patriots:  Everyone seems to be high on the Bengals this year, and I think they're going to be pretty good also.  I think their defense will be a Top-10 unit and the addition of T.O. will help the passing game.  New England is primed for a bounce back year, particularly Tom Brady.  Their secondary is in shambles right now, but I have faith Bill Belichek will be able to cover up that weakness.  I think both teams are for real, I just think it's too early in the year for the Bengals to go into Gilette Stadium and stun the Patriots.  This should be a fun one to watch though. Patriots by 3

Falcons vs. Steelers:  Atlanta finished strong last year to have their first back-to-back winning seasons in franchise history.  Michael Turner should be healed and ready for a big year, as should Matt Ryan who will totally forget about his sophomore slump.  Outside of Roddy White, I'm not crazy about Atlanta's wide receivers, however there's always Tony Gonzalez.  The Steelers are going to be good, WHEN Ben Roethlisberger comes back and is up to speed.  But right now this is Dennis Dixon's team, and although I've read his fellow players are very supportive of him, in a close game like this, Big Ben is needed.  I say Dixon throws a costly interception and costs Pittsburgh this one, but it will be close throughout.  Falcons by 2

Colts vs. Texans:  As you can see from above, I think the Colts are going to be just as good as they always are this year.  Manning & Company will be just as deadly as ever, and I think the defense will be improved from last years unit.  I think they need to run the ball better if they want to get to the Super Bowl, but regardless, they'll be in the thick of things.  The Texans have been knocking on the playoff door for a couple seasons now.  They're offense is just as good as the Colts, but I worry about their defense.  IF the defense could improve into a Top-10 unit this season, the Texans could be scary.  This is the Texans "Game of the Year"  and I believe they're geared up and FINALLY ready to beat the Colts. (Colts return the favor later on though).  Yup, I'm calling the upset.  Texans by 3

Panthers vs. Giants: I think the Panthers are a "middle of the road" type team.  I think Matt Moore can play well enough all year to keep Jimmy Clausen on the bench, but it's not necessarily going to translate into wins.  The Panthers have the best running back tandem in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart and an always dangerous wide receiver in Steve Smith...But outside of them, there really is nobody.  The Giants have their own good tandem in Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs and they will do damage with them as well.  I think the difference in this game is Eli Manning and that Giants defense which I think is going to be serious again.  I'm thinking the Giants beat them up, but I'm going to play it semi-conservative.  Giants by 6

Cowboys vs. Redskins:  While I've been completely un-impressed by the Cowboys offense so far, they have too many weapons to be producing like they have.  I think they take it up a notch now that the regular season is upon us.  Washington should be improved with McNabb at quarterback, but HOW MUCH?  Their defense has been solid for years now, but I don't think just the addition of McNabb is going to raise this team to a playoff contender.  I know Washington is home, and I could see them splitting the series, but I think the Cowboys come out fired up for this one and take a tough one.  Cowboys by 3

Packers vs. Eagles:  My favorite game of the week! My brother is an Eagles fan and me being a Packers fan, makes this game quite personal.  I think Aaron Rodgers is going to have a huge year (possibly MVP?) and the defense will be just as good in the 2nd year under Dom Capers.  Kevin Kolb comes into a good situation and I think he's going to be just fine.  I worry about LeSean McCoy, but I think he will be very productive as well.  The Eagles defense should be a Top-10 unit as well, and I don't think there's going to be much of a drop-off from McNabb to Kolb.  As much as I want to pick the Packers here, I think it's going to be tough to go into Lincoln Financial (with those CRAZY Philly fans) and win this opener.  Though if they do win, I'll be pleasantly surprised.  My brother should be happy. Eagles by 2

Ravens vs. Jets (Monday Night):  This to me, is the game of the week.  Ray Lewis has already ignited the flames, and this should be a fun, hard-hitting affair.  Both defenses will be tough, though Baltimore is weaker in the secondary right now, something Mark Sanchez will HAVE to try and exploit if the Jets are to win this game.  I think Baltimore is going to be great on offense this year, and I love the pick-up of Anquan Boldin.  I give the edge to Baltimore on offense, and the Jets on defense....I could flip a coin and be happy with whatever the coin said to pick.....However, I think the Jets opening up their brand new stadium, with Super Bowl aspirations, might give them the emotional advantage.  And yes, I'm a Jets fan as well.  Jets by 1


If you've made it this far, thanks for reading!  Any and all comments are appreciated, even if you disagree with something.  Check back probably Tuesday or Wednesday for my first power rankings.  Enjoy the games!!!!!!









 

Posted on: March 11, 2009 3:19 pm
 

NBA POWER RANKINGS 3/11/09

 

 

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Current Record: 50-13     Last 10 games: 8-2     Streak: W2     Home: 28-1     Road: 22-12

They've gone 3-1 in the past week with the lone setback an away game at Boston.  Lebron seems to be strengthening his hold on the MVP award and Mo Williams continues to prove to be the perfect addition to this team.  After visiting Phoenix tomorrow their next 2 are at Sacramento and home against the Knicks (certainly 2-1 if not 3-0 over that stretch) before a big showdown with the Magic.  Upcoming week(w/my predictions): @ PHO(W) @SAC(W) vs. NY(W)   Last week: 3-0 

 


 

2. Los Angeles Lakers

Current Record: 50-13     Last 10 games: 7-3     Streak: L1     Home: 29-4     Road: 21-9

After suffering their worst loss of the season at Portland, Kobe and Co. stumble from the top spot.  They've lost 3 of their last 5 games (all on the road) with two homes wins against MIN and MEM) and now face a tough stretch against Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas.Still don't see the Spurs catching them for Western Conference supremacy.  Upcoming week: @HOU(L), @SA(L), vs. DAL(W) Last week: 1-1

 


 

3. Boston Celtics

Current Record: 49-15     Last 10 games: 6-4     Streak: L1     Home: 26-6     Road: 23-9

They follow up a big victory against the Cavaliers with a home loss to the Magic.  Despite the addition of Marbury, it seems the absence of Rondo impacts this team significantly. Kevin Garnett's return may prove me wrong, but I'm starting to think Cleveland will win the #1 seed.  Upcoming week: @MIA(W), vs. MEM(W), @MIL(W)  Last week: 2-0

 


 

4. Orlando Magic

Current Record: 46-17     Last 10 games: 7-3     Streak: L1     Home: 24-7     Road: 22-10

A big road victory at Boston should boost this teams confidence for the playoffs.  Rafter Alston is averaging 9.3ppg and 6.33apg in his last three and I expect those numbers to improve.  They're going to be dangerous in the playoffs and a good run could possibly get them to the finals. Upcoming week: vs. CHI(W), @WAS(W), vs.UTA(L)  Last week: 2-0

 


 

 

5. San Antonio Spurs

Current Record: 43-20     Last 10 games: 7-3     Streak: W3     Home: 23-8     Road: 20-12

I love the addition of Drew Gooden and think he will fit in well and be a nice addition come playoff time.  Is he enough to close the gap between the Spurs and the Lakers?  Possibly, but I still think the Western Conference is the Lakers to lose. Luckily the Lakers visit San Antonio tomorrow in what should be another preview of the Western finals.  Upcoming week: vs. LAL(W), @HOU(L), @OKC(W)   Last week: 2-0

 


 

6. Houston Rockets

Current Record: 42-23     Last 10 games: 8-2     Streak: W3     Home: 27-6     Road: 15-17

They continue to play great basketball in Mcgrady's absence, which begs the question...Are they better off without him?  This team is built for defense and Mcgrady has never been known for that.  I bet Mcgrady shopping continues this off-season.  They need to improve on the road or they can keep dreaming in regards to challenging the Lakers and Spurs.  Upcoming week: vs. LAL(W), @CHA(W), vs. SA(W), @NO(L)  Last week: 1-0

 


 

7. Utah Jazz

Current Record: 41-23     Last 10 games: 10-0     Streak: W12     Home: 28-6     Road: 13-17

With a 12 game winning streak the Jazz have catapulted themselves into the Western conference discussion. They've consistently been good at home but weary on the road but they have a chance to turn that around with their next three away from home.  It's starting to look like they're going to pull away from the Blazers and Nuggets to take the Northwest division and at least lock up one round of home court advantage.  Upcoming week: @ATL(L), @MIA(W), @ORL(L)  Last week: 2-0

 


 

8. Portland Trailblazers

Current Record: 40-23     Last 10 games: 7-3     Streak: W2     Home: 27-5     Road: 13-18

They've won 5 of their last 6  and have a very impressive victory over the Lakers, were it not for Utah's winning streak I'd probably have Portland ahead of them.  I think their youth is going to catch up with them down the stretch and they will falter a little bit.  I'm beginning to wonder if Oden will ever stay healthy enough to be a factor, imagine they could've had Durant! Roy/Aldridge and improving on the road are the keys here. Upcoming week: vs. DAL(W), vs. NJ(W), @ATL(L), @ MEM(W)  Last week: 1-1

 


 

9. New Orleans Hornets

Current Record: 39-23     Last 10 games: 7-3     Streak: L1     Home: 23-9     Road: 16-14

Current road trip should be a good test for this team.  Before their loss to Atlanta they had won 7 in a row, they may surprise someone in the playoffs but I don't think they have what it takes to get to the WC finals.  They're road record is encouraging but I think their bench holds them back.   I'm kinda hoping for a Hornets/Jazz series in the playoffs for PG supremacy.  Upcoming week: @WAS(W), @MIL(W), @CHI(L), vs.HOU(W)  Last week: 2-0

 


 

10. Dallas Mavericks

Current Record: 39-25     Last 10 games: 7-3     Streak: W2     Home: 24-8     Road: 15-17

A victory over the Spurs had them feeling well though New Orleans handled them handily.  A nice road victory over Phoenix gives them a little cushion for a playoff spot.  I think they can be even better than they are now but I think it falls onto Josh Howard to step up, unfortunately they still haven't showed me anything to lead me to believe they'll get out of the first round of the playoffs. Upcoming week: @POR(L), @GS(W), @LAL(L)   Last week: 3-0

 


 

11. Denver Nuggets

Current Record: 40-25     Last 10 games: 3-7     Streak: L3     Home: 23-8     Road: 17-17

They've lost 5 of their last 6 and 3 of their last 11.  They need Kenyon Martin to get healthy for the playoffs but Chris Anderson continues to emerge as a defensive presence.  I think they could've definitely used Marcus Camby but that's what "cost-cutting" gets you.  I don't really see them turning this downward slide around.  Their next 3 are at home which could assist in turning it around but a 3 game road trip looms ahead on the 23rd (Pho,NO,Dal)  Upcoming week: vs. OKC(W), vs. LAC(W), vs. NJ(W)  Last week: 1-1

 


 

12. Miami Heat

Current Record: 34-29     Last 10 games: 6-4     Streak: W1     Home: 22-11     Road: 12-18

Dwyane Wade is a beast and continues to make a push for the MVP award.  I'm starting to like the move of Marion and the continuing improvement of Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers.  This team can definitely give somebody a scare come playoff time but I think their bench is still too thin...In another year or 2 they're going to be REALLY good.  Upcoming week: vs. BOS(L), vs. UTA(W), @PHI(W)

 


 

13. Atlanta Hawks

Current Record: 34-29     Last 10 games: 6-4     Streak: W1     Home: 22-11     Road: 12-18

They followed lowly losses to the Knicks and Bobcats with impressive victories of Detroit and New Orleans.  Their next 5 and 9 of their next 10 are at home where they have played well.  They'll probably continue to move up the rankings and could shock come playoff time.  Upcoming week: vs. UTA(W), vs. IND(W), vs. PORT(W)

 


 

14. Detroit Pistons

Current Record: 32-30     Last 10 games: 5-5     Streak: W1     Home: 17-15     Road: 15-15

Iverson goes down and all of a sudden they start playing better again...As he's suggested he would, I think it may be better to have Iverson come off the bench.  I'm surprised they haven't been that dominant at home but I think that'll improve down the stretch.  A .500 road winning percentage is a good sign.  They'll be in the playoffs of course but I don't see them making much noise just yet.  Upcoming week: vs. NY(W), @TOR(W), vs. MEM(W)

 


 

15. Phoenix Suns

Current Record: 34-30     Last 10 games: 3-7     Streak: L5     Home: 19-12     Road: 15-18

I was reluctant to even put them in the top 15 considering their 5 game losing streak but really, I don't think any of the remaining teams are better than them either.  Either way, Steve Nash and Shaq better straighten this thing out or come playoff time they're going to be on the outside looking in.  Also think they need to keep Amare and start shopping J-Rich. Upcoming week: vs. CLE(L), vs. OKC(W), @GS(L)

 

pt. 2 continued later tonight....

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on: March 9, 2009 3:06 pm
 

Monday's Musings

 

Good morning and Happy Monday to all!  I'm bored at work and figurd I'd touch on some developments in the sports world over the weekend.

 

NFL

Terrell Owens signs one year deal with the Buffalo Bills.

Of all the possible destinations I had in mind, Buffalo hadn't even been on my list! (I was thinking Seattle,Oakland, or SF)  The one year deal is definitely smart by management, however, I don't think this makes the Bills THAT much better.  Granted this improves their WR corps, but Lee Evans is ALREADY a #1 receiver and Owens has a history of wanting to be a major focal point of the offense (and when he isn't as we all know, the problems begin!)  Now they drop Evans to the #2 receiver (which is still better than Evans at #1 and Hardy/Parrish as their #2) but Evans' numbers are going to take a hit this season and I don't think he's going to be the happiest camper. 

 

Also aside from Tony Romo, Owens has had issues with almost every quarterback that threw him the ball.  Is that really the optimal situation for a still maturing Trent Edwards?  Granted it's a new weapon for the QB that helps stretch the field a little more (which will open things up for Marshawn Lynch and the running game) but what happens when Owens starts criticizing Edwards?  Confidence is a huge part in sports and Owens could be detrimental to the growth of the Bills "franchise" quarterback.  I'm sure it's brought a lot of attention and excitement to the Bills franchise (as well as increased ticket sales), but  in no way do I feel this gets them "over the hump" and I STILL think they're the 4th best team in the AFC East.  Either way, I've been a TO fan (aside from his antics) since he was in Philly and I wish him the best.

 

World Baseball Classic

The WBC got started this weekend and the US has looked very good so far and is already in the 2nd round of Pool C (they defeated Canada 6-5 and beat up Venezuela 15-6) 

Korea has already wrapped up Pool A with a 1-0 victory over Japan, the Netherlands got a surprising upset by beating supposed "powerhouse" the Dominican Republic and will play my beloved Puerto Rico (defeated Panama 7-0) today.

Cuba/Australia(3/10) and South Africa/Mexico(3/9) face off in Pool B as well.

 

College Basketball

In a crazy season where no team has been able to maintain a hold on the #1 ranking, North Carolina has regained the #1 spot and with a win in the ACC should be the #1 overall seed. 

Pittsburgh completes season sweep of UCONN :

Sam Young is flourishing down the stretch of his senior year and Dejuan Blair (at only 6'7"!) is a beast on the block.  Pitt completed a season sweep of UCONN and heads into the Big East tournament the #2 seed.  Louisville is the #1 seed in the Big East tourney and still has a shot at a #1 seed (they're gonna have to win the tourney to get that seed though)  

North Carolina defeated Duke yesterday 79-71 for bragging rights and the regular season ACC title.  I have a feeling UNC loses in the ACC tourney championship (to Wake Forest)  but still earns a #1 seed and should be in the Final Four.  I'm not completely sold on Duke and see them making a 2nd round or sweet 16 exit. 

Gonzaga squares off against St. Mary's tonight for the West Coast Conference's automatic bid.  Despite who wins (i'll take St. Mary's), both teams deserve to be in the tournament.   St. Mary's just got star Patrick Mills back and this team can definitely cause some problems in the tourney, I'm not really sold on Gonzaga though.

Several teams have already punched their tourney cards including Cornell (Ivy), E. Tennesse St. (A-Sun), Radford (Big South), Northern Iowa (MVC) and Morehead State (Ohio Valley).  I don't think any win a game in the tourney but Northern Iowa may shock somebody.

Projected #1 Seeds:

Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Louisville (I think they win the BE tourney)

Last Four In:

Providence, Florida, Arizona, Penn St.

 

NBA

Magic 86 Celtics 79

The Celtics edged out the Cavs at home on Friday (as they should have) but then turn around and lose to the Magic at home?  Perhaps due to the absence of Garnett (and Rajon Rondo), but I can see the Magic giving the Celtics fits in the playoffs.  They don't seem as solid at home this year as much as last and the C's need to change that come playoff time.  Am I the only one cheering on a Dwight Howard MVP award?  Pretty sure he WON'T win it but I'd like to see it happen nonetheless. 

Nets 106 Knicks 101

As a die-hard Knicks fan who only a couple of weeks ago was dreaming of the playoffs, I'm severely saddened by their play lately.  Granted this team is exciting and way more competitive than last year's squad, but we were only 1.5 games out of the 8th seed and yet we STILL can't close games out?  I don't know how many times already I've watched us have a 10-12 point lead (or even be losing but still close) only to completely unravel in the fourth quarter....There HAS to be a commitment to defense as well before anyone will take us seriously....As it is, I see the Nets righting their ship and nabbing the 8th seed.  The Knicks probably finish as the 10th seed in the conference.

Check out my updated Power Rankings on Wed/Thurs.

 

 

Category: General
Posted on: March 4, 2009 6:03 pm
 

NBA Power Rankings 3/4/09

 

NBA POWER RANKINGS

 


 

 

 

Los Angeles <a href=page/LAL">Lakers " style="float: left;" />




1. Los Angeles Lakers 

Current Record: 49-12     Last 10 games: 7-3     Streak: W1     Home: 28-4     Road: 21-8


The expectations have been high for the Lakers all year.  As expected, Kobe Bryant has continued his MVP-like play and Andrew Bynum was  progressing until his current injury (is there going to be a significant one every year for this kid??  He's expected back in April).  With the absence of Bynum (and the promotion of Odom to the starting lineup), I'm not completely sold on their bench outside of Farmar, Ariza, and Vujacic.  Still, when you have a player of Kobe's caliber, things usually work out in your favor.  They should still be the #1 seed come playoff time.  Upcoming Week's Games (and my predictions): vs. Min (W) @Port (W)

 


 

Cleveland <a href=page/CLE">Cavaliers" style="vertical-align: baseline;" />

2. Cleveland Cavaliers

Current Record: 47-12     Last 10 games: 8-2     Streak: W3     Home: 26-1     Road: 21-11

 

Could this be the year Lebron gets his first MVP?  He certainly deserves it the way the Cavs are playing.  Rewarded to his first All-Star game (after Jameer Nelson's injury) Mo Williams certainly seems like the missing piece for this team.  Ben Wallace is out 4-6 weeks and will be sorely missed down the stretch as they try to hold onto the #1 seed in the East.   The home record is very impressive and a run to the finals is definitely possible...My only questions are down low (especially with Wallace out).  Are Z and Varejao (and Joe Smith/JJ Hickson) enough??  I'm not ruling them out for the Finals, but I think the Celtics catch em and take the #1 seed.  Upcoming games:  vs. MIL (W) @BOS (L)  vs. MIA (W)

 


 

Boston Celtics

3. Boston Celtics

Current Record: 47-14     Last 10 games: 6-4     Streak: L1     Home: 25-5     Road: 22-9

Reigning champs, the Celtics are certainly in line for a repeat.  Although not as solid as last year, this team still has what it takes to get to the Finals.  Garnett should be back within the next 2 weeks and I believe he will get this team geared up for the playoffs.  I like the Mikki Moore and Stephon Marbury additions (though if I were Celtics management, I'd be cautious with Marbury) but I'm not huge on their bench.  They're not as dominant at home as the Cavs but are a better road team and I think that's going to be crucial come playoff time.  They're my pick for the #1 seed in the East.  Upcoming games: @ NJ (W)   vs. CLE (W)

 


Orlando <a href=page/ORL">Magic" style="vertical-align: baseline;" />

 

4. Orlando Magic

Current Record: 44-16     Last 10 games: 6-4     Streak: W2     Home: 23-7     Road: 21-9

Before the season started I predicted Dwight Howard would be a viable MVP candidate and he certainly has not let me down.  The loss of Jameer Nelson for the season really hampers this team, though it was an excellent move picking up Rafer Alston.  Still though, perhaps the loss of Nelson has lowered the ceiling for this team, I don't think the Finals are possible but I can see the Magic in the Eastern Conference Championship, (expect Dwight Howard to be even more dominant come playoff time.)  Upcoming games: vs.NJ(W)  @BOS(W)

 


San Antonio <a href=page/SA">Spurs" style="vertical-align: baseline;" />

 

5. San Antonio Spurs

Current Record: 40-19     Last 10 games: 6-4     Streak: W1     Home: 20-8     Road: 20-11

Who didn't expect the Spurs to be in it?  Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker are still excellent players and their bench is top notch.  Roger Mason has been an excellent pick-up and will come in handy come playoff time.  It's all about the playoffs with this team, as it seems they always take their games to another level, however I can see their age catching up to them and a 2nd round exit possible.  Either way, I don't think the Spurs are going to the Finals this year and anything less with this team is a disappointment.  Upcoming games: @ DAL (L)  vs.WAS (W)

 


 

6. Houston Rockets

Current Record: 39-22     Last 10 games: 8-2     Streak: W2     Home: 25-6     Road: 14-16

Best move this team made was acquiring Ron Artest, who has stepped up admirably after the departure of the oft-injured Tracy McGrady.  I like their bench and their toughness and as long as they stay healthy, I think they have enough to pass the Spurs.  I like the Kyle Lowry addition and think he's only going to get better and better...  And just think?  They won't have to worry about the T-Mac curse regarding the first round of the playoffs!!  If things come together, they have the talent to get to the Western Conference finals, though I think they're road woes will stop them short.  Upcoming Games: @UTAH(L)  vs. PHO

 


 

7. Denver Nuggets

Current Record: 39-22     Last 10 games: 5-5     Streak: L2     Home: 22-7     Road: 17-15

Chauncey Billups, an all-around improved Carmelo Anthony, and rejuvenated big men Kenyon Martin/Nene, have this team ahead of pre-season predictions.  Trading Iverson landed them the leadership they needed at the point and JR Smith is progressing into a valuable sixth man.  This team could very well upset somebody in the playoffs but I'm thinking a second round exit for them.  Upcoming games: vs. POR (L)  @ UTAH (L)

 


 

8. New Orleans Hornets

Current Record: 37-22     Last 10 games: 7-3     Streak: W5     Home: 21-9     Road: 16-13

Chris Paul continues his dominance but what was up with the Hornets trying to trade away Tyson Chandler?  There must be some injury concerns with him, either that or they were willing to give up on this season? Since Chandler's healthy return they've been even tougher down low.  I don't think they're going to the WCF but 2nd round is probable.  Upcoming games: vs. DAL (W)   vs. OKC (W)

 


 

9. Portland Trail Blazers

Current Record: 37-22     Last 10 games: 7-3     Streak: W2     Home: 24-5     Road: 13-17

Brandon Roy certainly deserves to be in the MVP discussion but probably won't be.  Sorry Blazers fan, day by day Oden looks more and more like the second coming of Sam Bowie.  Luckily, they have the spectacular LaMarcus Aldridge (and the scrappy Pzybilla) down there as well and a youthful talented bench to keep them alive.  I knew they'd be improved this season, but not this good.  They will be in the playoffs but I think their youth catches up to them and they're out in the first round.  Either way, I think this team is a true contender within the next 2 years.  Upcoming games: vs. IND (W)  @DEN(W) vs. MIN (W)

 


 

10. Utah Jazz

Current Record: 37-23     Last 10 games: 9-1     Streak: W8     Home: 26-6     Road: 11-17

An 8 game winning streak has them right in the discussion of things.  Deron Williams is the second best point guard in the league and they have a talented bench.  Boozer is averaging a double-double and Okur is one of the best scoring centers in the league.  I think they'll cool off some down the stretch but they are a very dangerous team in the playoffs, especially if they can wrestle some home court advantage.  Still, their road mark is not impressive and I think a 2nd round exit is quite likely.  Upcoming games: vs.HOU (W) vs. DEN (W)

 


 

11. Dallas Mavericks

Current Record: 37-23     Last 10 games: 9-1     Streak: W8     Home: 26-6     Road: 11-17

I think overall Dallas has been a disappointment thus far this season.  I figured with an off-season together with Jason Kidd this team would be much better.  I know some of the players had difficulties with him, but was firing Avery Johnson REALLY the answer for this team?  Their championship window has come and gone and they don't have the bench to make a real dent come playoff time.  They will be in it, but a first round exit is most likely.  Upcoming games: vs. SA (W) @NO (L)  vs. WAS (W)

 


 

12. Phoenix Suns

Current Record: 34-26     Last 10 games: 6-4     Streak: L1     Home: 19-11     Road: 15-15

What to make of Terry Porter's team?  It seemed very underachieving early in the season but  lately seems rejuvenated (particularly Shaq).  The loss of Amare for the season SHOULD cripple this team, but with Nash leading the way and the ever-dominant Shaq in the paint, this team can still contend.  Matt Barnes has been an excellent bright spot but the verdict is still out on the J-Rich/Bell,Diaw trade.   They may slip into the playoffs as the 8th seed but the Lakers will take them out early. Upcoming games: @MIA(L)

 

 

This is pt. 1, part 2 will continue tomorrow. 3/5/09


 

 

 

Category: NBA
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com