Sunday, October 26, 2008

NBA Preview 2008 - Follow Me to Freedom

It's almost Halloween, which means only one thing - it's time for the NBA season to almost begin! This year, I will try to use sitcoms...

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division
1-boston- Cheers - A source told me that every day, when Big Baby Davis walks over to the bench, everyone screams "Big Baby." Cheers and the Celtics are an award winning show, but is this the final season, when the quality is off a bit, or are we still in the prime of the show?
2-Philly - Andy Richter Controls the Universe - A great star who is not exactly respected by everyone (Andy Richter / Elton Brand) has moved over to Philly. I loved Andy Richter Controls the Universe and I think it was a really brilliant show and underappreciated, just like the championship prospects of Philly this season.
6-Toronto- Blossom - Blossom had a lot of memorable characters - Blossom, Six, Joey (the guy who said "Whoa!"). Toronto has a lot of memorable characters - Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, the remains of Jermaine O'Neal. But Blossom was never going to do great things and I think the same is true about the Raptors, even if they make some fans smile at their offensive skills. Unless of course Jermaine O'Neal still can play 70 games at a high level.
NY - Arli$$ - Arli$$ was an absolute abomination. Great premise (sports agent and his associates) with an interesting cast (Robert Wuhl, Sandra Oh, guest appearances by Bob Costas, Tommy Lasorda, Shaq, Andre Rison, and many others)... but in the end, this show was just atrocious. It's like if Isiah Thomas were writing a show that looked great on paper only it turned out to be terrible in practice. Of course, new coach Mike D'Antoni may be able to change things but it's going to take time.
NJ - Head of the Class - Remember Head of the Class with Arvid (nerdy guy), that fat guy, Robin Givens, Simone, and a whole bunch of other students? That's really the NJ Nets. They have Devin Harris, Vince Carter, and 10 other players under the age of 23 all vying to be LeBron's teammate in 2010. Of course, there's no guarantee that LeBron or any other free agent will actually be there in 2010, but they still can hold tryouts.

Central Division
4-Cleveland- Perfect Strangers - I just pray that Mo Williams and LeBron get along as well as Balki and his cousin Larry.

5-Detroit - Charles in Charge - Who in the world appoints a coach with no head coaching experience for a veteran team? I just don't see it working out. It's like placing Charles in Charge just because he was funny on Happy Days. I wouldn't trust Charles. He dated Nicole Eggert, and he was supposed to just be babysitting her!
Chicago - 227 - I couldn't really find a show that made sense for the Bulls. I keep thinking they will do well this season and rebound from the evil atmosphere that Scott Skiles produced, but then I keep reminding myself that Vinny Del Negro is coaching them. I once called some plays in a high school basketball rec league game. This means I'm as qualified as Del Negro.
Milwaukee- ALF - Michael Redd still has to carry this team, just like ALF used to. The Bucks did add Richard Jefferson. It is possible that the Bucks exceed expectations if Andrew Bogut plays awesome as does Charlie Villaneuva... but Scott Skiles is the coach. And he's a sad man.
Indiana- Freaks and Geeks - Lots of funny actors got their start on this show (James Franco, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen). But, Freaks and Geeks never had good ratings. Similarly, the Pacers may suck, but I still like young players Danny Granger, Brandon Rush, Dr. Hibbert, and TJ Ford.

Southeast Division
3-Orlando- The Facts of Life - Orlando is good. Rashard Lewis won't get old and awful for a few more years. I was wrong about them.
7-Miami- Cosby- Can D. Wade return to his old dominance with a mostly different cast? If so, he'd be better than Bill Cosby, who never had much success with the show Cosby that aired on CBS (though he did bring Phylicia Rashad with him). the show "cosby" also had Doug E. Doug as a cast member. Did you know? the Miami Heat have rookie phenom Michael Beasley and Shawn Marion in a contract year.
8-Atlanta- Who's the Boss - I still like the Hawks, even though they lost swingman Josh Childress. Who's the Boss was a good comfort show, it was fun to watch and so are the Hawks.
Washington- Family Matters - Can you imagine Family Matters doing well without Steve Urkel? It's kind of like imagining the Wizards doing well without Gilbert Arenas. Arenas has serious problems with his knee and I'm not optimistic that he can return to his former All-star level. It's sad.
Charlotte- Married with Children - Jordan is the husband, Coach Larry Brown is the obnoxious wife... and they have kids! Lots of young kids! Honestly, the novelty's starting to wear off on this "expansion" team, I can only imagine the lack of patience in the Charlotte area… if Jordan and Coach Larry Brown can't get them to win in the next 2 years, there will be trouble.

Western Conference

Mountainous division
2-Utah- Night Court - Night Court was an awesome show with a great cast, just like the Jazz. You can always depend on Night Court.
5-Portland- Full House - Adding Greg Oden is like when they added DJ's boyfriend to Full House, who was the voice of Alladin… there's no stopping the Trail Blazers now!

Denver- Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - I think the Nuggets have already given up… they already traded Camby, Iverson's in a contract year… smells to me like they are starting over. Kind of like when the Fresh Prince just switched who played Aunt Vivian and acted like nothing changed. Well you know what? I noticed, and it was not the same! Allen Iverson (in a contract year) and Carmelo Anthony can at least have fun, like Will Smith and Carlton would, at least until Allen Iverson gets traded at the trade deadline.

Ok City- Martin - fun times with a young future star (Kevin Durant / Martin Lawrence)… but it's nothing award winning.
Minnesota- Silver Spoons - Kevin McHale is like the dad leading his young Timberwolves (Kevin Love playing Ricky Schroeder, Al Jefferson playing Alfonso Ribiero) on the train that goes out of the house and back again. Choo choo!

Texas Two-Step Division
3-Houston- Gilligan's Island - perhaps this season in Houston will be like the season Gilligan's Island became in color?!?
4-San Antonio- Empty Nest - When I was really bored on a Saturday night as a 10-year old, I was slightly entertained by this older comedy… but if I didn't watch Empty Nest, I wouldn't miss it. Though that dog really did a great job of raising its eyebrows on Empty Nest.
6-New Orleans- Sabrina, the Teenage Witch - this team will really need some magic by Chris Paul if its expecting to win anything more than last year. The addition of James Posey will not change much of anything… they already had Mo Pete doing the same type of things at that position. Yes, they added depth, but more importantly, they lost backup PG Jannero Pargo, who went to Russia.
7-Dallas- My Two Dads - head coach Rick Carlyle and owner Mark Cuban are both in charge of this team. I think Mark Cuban is the "cool dad" and Rick Carlyle is the "conservative dad", played by Paul Reiser. Apparently... Dick Butkus was also on the show! Clearly, Jason Kidd is playing "the old guy who once was a great athlete" on this show.

Memphis- My Favorite Gasol - this isn't really a show, but as I said earlier this year, it should be! Here's my idea for episode #12 - they inadvertently each set up dates with the same girl - one on Friday and one on Saturday... and they don't realize until afterwards!

Pacific Division
1-Lakers - Saved by the Bell - classic sitcom, always entertaining... plus, it's like the Lakers are getting Max back, as Bynum is coming back from injury!
8-Phoenix- Boy Meets World - younger brother's show, which is never as good as older brother's show, Wonder Years. Of course, the real focus of the team is Shaq and Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire, but I think it's more important to bring up the fact that Robin Lopez is on the Suns. I actually think Robin Lopez could play better this year than Shaq.
Clippers- The Tick - this was actually made into a live-action show, starring Putty from Seinfeld. The Clippers acquired their own star this offseason as well - PG Baron Davis. Unfortunately, they also lost Elton Brand and Corey Maggette. Net result: negative.
Golden State- Herman's Head - I really don't know who's in charge (Chris Mullin or Don Nelson) or what part of the brain will win. What I do know is that Golden State lost PG Baron Davis and then sought revenge by acquiring Corey Maggette, though that wasn't really even a need for them. It should be an interesting season, especially since SG Monta Ellis is out until February.
Sacramento- Hogan Family - starring Jason Bateman and Sandy Duncan (who apparently wasn't on the show until they killed off the original mom!) The Kings only have SG Kevin Martin and PG Beno Udrih. That's not going to be enough to get it done in the West.


1st round

1-Boston over 8-Atlanta - Rematch! Probably won't be going 7 games again.

4-Cleveland over 5-Detroit - This is going to be one physical slugfest.

3-Orlando over 6-Toronto - I still don't think Jermaine O'Neal will be healthy enough to make a difference.

2-Philly over 7-Miami - The 76ers are going to be ruthless.

1-Lakers over 8-Phoenix - I'm sure TNT will have some nice Shaq features running during this sweep.

2-Utah over 7-Dallas - I still think Dallas could be a bit frisky with a new coach... but Jason Kidd will be overpowered once again by another faster, younger PG.

3-Houston over 6-New Orleans - This series will be tough. The Rockets have to win a playoff series at some point though, right?

5-Portland over 4-San Antonio - Youth is served! Really, the Spurs success depends on Manu Ginobili's health when he returns.

2nd round

4-Cleveland over 1-Boston - Time for some actual analysis. The Cavs addition of PG Mo Williams should make a big difference, even if the Cavs have a dumb coach. For the first time in LeBron's career, there is a capable playmaker on the floor who can handle the ball. Even if Coach Brown only calls one play per game (don't laugh, this happens), it is still inevitable that Mo Williams should have the ball in his hands and LeBron is free to run around and get open OR set himself up down low. Whenever LeBron was "off-the-ball" in the past, he's even more "unguardable" than when he's handling the ball. When LeBron handles the ball, you can throw a wall of defenders at him to prevent penetration or force him to go to a sideline. Off-the-ball LeBron? Should be even more unstoppable. The other reason that the Cavs can take down Boston is because they have the big men (Z, Ben Wallace, Varejao) to contest KG and the Celtics.
2-Philly over 3-Orlando - The 76ers have Elton Brand. Dalembert. Andre Miller. Thaddeus Young. Louis Williams. It's a young team (other than Andre Miller) that can run up and down the floor and will be very athletic while also controlling the boards.

1-Lakers over 5-Portland - I assume Bynum and Oden will be healthy, which should be a real interesting matchup down low. I also assume asking for conference finals this year for Portland is too much.

3-Houston over 2-Utah - The Rockets have Ron Artest... in a CONTRACT Year! The starting 5 of Houston is really quite amazing... so long as they stay healthy (Scola, Artest, Yao Ming, T-Mac, Rafer Alston). Usually, at least 3 of these guys get hurt each year.

Conf. Finals

4-Cleveland over 2-Philly - Yes, LeBron is like a freight train that cannot be stopped. In addition to the reasons stated above, I believe the Cavs will win the East because I am EXPECTING the Cavs to dump at least Wally's $13 million contract in exchange for some upgrade at either SG or PF. Once this player to be named later is identified, the Cavs will be trully unstoppable. The player the Cavs obtain will be based on some other team losing more games than they are supposed to, giving up hope, and deciding to take Wally's contract for instant cap relief.

1-Lakers over 3-Houston - With Bynum? The Lakers are frightening. Plus, too many fragile people have to stay healthy for Houston to win.

NBA Finals

4-Cleveland over 1-Lakers - For the 1st time since the 1996 Cleveland Indians, I am picking my home team to win the whole damn thing. I believe that Mo Williams should allow LeBron to be off-the-ball on offense, meaning he's virtually unguardable, unstoppable. The only thing holding back the Cavs is the moronic coaching. I am saying the Cavs have the horses to win the whole damn thing, especially once they dump Wally's $13 million expiring contract, as explained above. As an aside, it should be noted that the 1996 Indians lost in the 1st round that year that I picked them. Now, I no longer believe in superstition. I think the planets will align, the Cavs can win the whole damn thing, Lebron will be wearing a tie around his head like Charlie Steiner and screaming "Follow me to freedom!," and the city of Cleveland will consume more alcohol per person over the course of 1 day of celebration than any other city has in the history of mankind.

All-Gutsy Team
PF - Elton Brand, Philly
SF - LeBron, Cleveland
C - Dwight Howard, Orlando
SG - Kobe, Lakers
PG - Deron Williams, Utah

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