I'm not putting down their regular season record because I don't have time to add them all up so that at the very least the league is even in wins & losses (something many people forget about). So here's my picks:
Los Angeles (L)
Los Angeles (C)
1. Los Angeles (L)
4. San Antonio
5. Oklahoma City
7. New York
Things I struggled with, starting in the Western Conference. First, the majority of playoff teams from last year added pieces that in theory will only make them better. Three teams seem to be taking steps back in Phoenix, Utah, and Denver. I decided to completely drop Denver out because the fallout from the Melo trade will likely submarine half of that team's season in the UC West. Utah might have replaced Boozer, but they just lost a good young wing player in Wesley Matthews, and their best spot up shooter in Kyle Korver. But the biggest change is for Phoenix. They lost not only Amare, but another useful big man in Luis Armundson (spl?). That means Phoenix just lost 2 of it's 3 best post defenders and rebounders, and replaced them with Hedo Turkoglu. What does that mean for the Suns? IMO, they are just as explosive offensively now, albeit in a different way, as they were last year. The Suns have a great regular season team, when you're playing lots of teams who are fatigued from road trips or simply don't care. But come the playoffs? Sweep city, Phoenix!
I will admit I was a bit disappointed by the news about Yao Ming, as Houston was going to be my darkhorse prediction to be the #2 or #3 seed.... but if he's going to be that limited, I can't knock up Houston that much on the Challenger Scale. New Orleans added Ariza, a move in the right direction, but still is regretting trading Tyson Chandler. And Memphis, you'd expect them to make a leap eventually.... but the problem is they have no killer scorer. Gay and Mayo are great 2nd or 3rd option players. Marc is a great role player center, but he'll never be an All-Star.
Ok, the East. I had alot of trouble with the Central division. While Cleveland still has some talent, can you really say its better tha the talent on Detroit's roster? And look how bad THEY were. My general feeling about the Cavs is that the fans have given up on the team. Expect record low crowds for this team most of the year. That, IMO, wil drag Cleveland down from a possible 7th or 8th seed. Since Indiana seems to be content spinning it's wheels, someone has to win games between the 3 and I'm leaning towards Detroit. As such, this means the 8th seed this year for the EC is going to be one of the worst in recent memory. It's pretty much up between Detroit, Philadelphia, or Charlotte. Charlotte is going to regret giving up it's center, because this isn't FIBA ball, and Boris Diaw IS NOT A FUCKING CENTER. Philadelphia has potential, but a bunch of players that don't mesh well together, as a basketball team. And Atlanta I'm expecting a drop from, with a new coach and the underlying knowledge by everyone involved that this team has reached it's peak with the current talent and needs to changeup it's roster if they want to take the next step.
Alright, that's about all I can spit out. Give me your predictions! Try to be realistic!