SBM Sports – Who Will Win the 2014 NBA Championship?
We finally (finally!) made it to the beginning of the NBA season. Tonight’s game between the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls (and other less interesting teams) marks the end of an fun offseason. Fabian McNally and I named our MVP choice and biggest surprise of the upcoming season last week. Today we make our picks for the conference and NBA champions. Happy Tip Off Day!
Joe’s Western Conference Champions
The Western Conference is a choice between flawed teams. In a case like this, I tend to pick the best team, but…who the hell is that?
The incumbent San Antonio Spurs are a well-oiled machine, but they’re a year older and caught some breaks last year.
The Oklahoma City Thunder need a consistent third scorer. Who is it? And can Russell Westbrook hit the ground running when he returns from knee surgery?
The Houston Rockets made the offseason’s biggest acquisition, but they still have holes (they were an 8-seed last year after all). There’s no shame in being a year away.
The Memphis Grizzlies still lack floor-spacing shooters.
Frankly, I was thisclose to flipping a coin.
Before doing that, I took a close look at the Los Angeles Clippers. This team may have made the second best acquisition this year in luring head coach Doc Rivers away from the Boston Celtics. Upgrading from Vinny Del Negro to Doc is huge.
In a recent interview, Rivers talked about influencing the team to trade for shooters JJ Redick and Jared Dudley shortly after arriving. Both guys will create space on the floor for Blake Griffin to operate, which should take some pressure off him. Add in Jamal Crawford, DeAndre Jordan, and Darren Collison, you have a balanced rotation and coaching stability…something the other LA team seemed to have a monopoly on since, uh, forever?
All of this skips over the most important player on the Clips, Chris Paul. I know he hasn’t advanced past the second round of the playoffs, but this is his best situation as a pro. I believe CP3 will lead the Clippers to the Finals this year.
Fabian’s Eastern Conference Champions
I have no idea who’s going to win the East. On one hand, LeBron James is the greatest player in the world, and his team is the 3-time defending Eastern Conference champ; so of course they’re the choice. On the other, after three consecutive Finals runs and the Olympics, there’s just a lot of mileage here. Perhaps too much. We have already seen the impact on Dwayne Wade’s knee.
On top of that, if the Heat make the Finals, they will be the first team to make four consecutive Finals since the ’84-’87 Celtics. I hear you, Jordan’s Bulls would have made 4 consecutive Finals if His Airness had not retired. The ShaKobe Lakers would have done it if they didn’t hate each other, but the point is…winning requires some luck (see, ’13 Finals Game 6, Allen, Ray) and they may not have enough left. So, if not the Heat, then who?
It won’t be my beloved Knicks.
Basketball isn’t football and never will be despite the Knicks’ impassioned pursuit of players who are only useful on one end of the court (hello offseason acquisitions Metta World Peace and Andrea Bargnani, meet your teammate Carmelo Anthony).
Maybe the Pacers, but while they are a matchup nightmare for Miami, they are a little overrated. Any team with a big man capable of holding his own against Hibbert could knock them off (Noah, Chandler, Garnett).
Possibly the Bulls since Derrick Rose is back, though you would have to trust Tom Thibodeau to keep Rose, Deng and Noah healthy for a deep playoff run. Hasn’t happened so far.
Then there are the Nets.
Jason Kidd, First-Year Coach scares me…but this is basically a (slightly) older version of the Celtics teams that have always given LeBron a hell of a time. Except this version has Deron Williams (no more backing 15 feet off Rondo), Joe Johnson (big wing who can put the ball on the floor and score), Andre Kirilenko (a better/bigger defender than Paul Pierce who can cover LeBron), and Brook Lopez.
Yes, they might break down at any minute. Yes, if Miami goes small KG is going to have a hell of a time finding someone to guard. Yes, Jason Kidd might show up drunk. But despite all that…I anticipate the Barclays finally having a second banner to go up in the rafters alongside Hov’s.
So, who wins it all this year?
Joe – Ok, we have Brooklyn versus the LA Clippers in the Finals this year. Looking forward to ESPN beating the “Doc versus KG/Pierce” story into the dirt.
Anyway, in this matchup, I’ll take the Nets in six or seven. I have a couple reasons. Some real, some not so much.
First, the Clippers are cursed.
Second, I trust the Nets’ top 10 guys (except Jason Terry, who is dead). Obviously 10 guys won’t play meaningful minutes in the playoffs, but that depth will keep the older guys fresher throughout the season, and if an injury does happen, the Nets are in position to pick up the slack.
Third, as much as I think Doc’s championship experience will benefit LA, he isn’t on the court. Garnett and Pierce, the only players with championship experience on either roster (remembering, again, that Jason Terry is dead), will be the difference.
Fabian – Stop me if you’ve heard this before…but the Nets are old and Jason Kidd has no coaching experience. They’ll need some breaks to be here and, if they do get here, they should lose…but the Nets have great depth and no real weakness.
I want to pick LA (Clippers, not Lakers) because Chris Paul is one of my favorite players ever, JJ Redick is quickly climbing that ladder and they’re a 57 win team that (seemingly) got better over the offseason, but I’m not sold on the defense. Doc coached some great defensive teams in Boston, but I think that was more KG than Doc. As a result, I think KG’s new home has made bigger gains than Doc’s new home and Lob City will not be ending the season with a championship.
Well there you have it. We each picked Brooklyn to win it all this year. Who do you think will meet in the Finals? Who will win it all? Let us know below!