Man, it was a long season, but an exciting season, particularly in the West where it came down to the final day to determine teams seeded from 2-7. I like the Cavs in the East, an obvious pick. But, Orlando could give them some trouble. There is a lot of pressure on Le'Bron to win it this year. This is his seventh season and MJ won it in his seventh season. Le'Bron has spent so much time on endorsements and getting his "brand" out to try and become a billion dollar athlete, that you sometimes wonder where his priorities are. The Cleveland Cavaliers are paying him to win championships, not to be a mega-celebrity. He is in a movie this summer. You'd think he would win a couple of championships before he decides to go Hollywood. There is a lot of pressure on him, and though he's an amazing athlete and competitor, he hasn't gotten it done yet. It would be a huge disappointment for him and Cleveland if he can't get it done this year. Orlando will be formidable. Dwight Howard vs Shaq is a very interesting matchup. Can Howard wear out Shaq? He could. And the Magic can shoot so that could mean matchup problems for Cleveland. Cleveland is known for blowing opportunities; they haven't won a championship since 1964 when the football Browns won the league championship, pre-Super Bowl. The Cavs have never won it. This is their opportunity. I'm not totally ruling out they go down to the Magic.
In the West, the Lakers have the best team slightly, but I see the Suns giving them a real run. Kobe Bryant has been banged up all year and playing a lot of minutes in games. The question is, can he take the grind of the playoffs? He is such a gamer that you would think he could, but there are some very good teams in the way, namely Phoenix. Steve Nash is the best point guard in the world, and Amar'e Stoudemire is dominating like he never has before. He's an unreal force at power forward. Really unstoppable. This is a fun team to watch that scores a lot of points and has made more of a commitment to defense. The Lakers and the Suns will be a war when they meet up.
So the Lakers and the Cavs are the favorites, but I think both are vulnerable. I like the Cavs to win it all if it's the Suns. If it's the Lakers, I give the Cavs a slight edge. If Le'Bron doesn't get it done this year, it will be a disaster. The Magic are 2-2 with Cavs this year and the Suns are 1-3 this year with Lakers. But, Stoudemire is averaging 23 points and almost nine rebounds a game and he's been on fire lately. Nash has been Nash. 16.5 points and 11 assists. That's something else. Lakers have question marks. Bryant's injuries and the health of Andrew Bynum. Suns have an injury with Robin Lopez, but he should be back in second round. Could be a problem for them in the first round versus Trailblazers though the Blazers lost Brandon Roy, which should really hurt them.