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SBM Sports – Who Will Win the 2014 NBA Championship?

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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

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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?

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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

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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).

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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.

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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.

BK Nets

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!

Comment(11)

  1. 1. a clippers nets finals would invoke yeezus levels of anger and frustration

    2. i think miami lost its chance to 3 peat game 5 in dallas

    3. i think chicago has pieces to make a midseason landscape altering deal

    4. i think memphis hit its peak

    i got chicago and houston in the finals, chicago ultimately winning it all. rose has looked every bit his old self so far, i love thibodeaus defense, and again if they can somehow get another legit scorer at the deadline i think they can give the heat a run for their money

    1. Lol, I wouldn't have said LAC/BKN off the top of my head, that's just how it worked out. All apologies to Boston fans like yourself.

      Explain the 3-peat/Game 5 thing. Not sure what you mean.

      Can't fault you for Chicago/Houston. I happen to think they'll be better next year, but they have looked good so far.

  2. Bro, it's going to be MIA and LA Clippers. I can sort of see Houston coming out the west, but I think they are about a year or two away. Lebron is the Calvin Johnson of basketball. He can't be stopped.

  3. I can't see this Nets squad is giving Miami las drogas in a 7 game series. Can you elaborate on the "top 10 guys" reference? Who's the 2nd 5 because looking at their roster, I don't see it. Who else do they really have that can give 10-14 extra pts in tight games? The Heat have the slight upside w/ Norris Cole's defense, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. But that's not saying much. (btw, how is Juwan Howard still on a roster? -_-) Additionally, 10 years and Lebron has had no injuries, he's a machine. The Bulls/Pacers really pushed him in those series. I mean, even Boris Diaw bothered him at times. Boris. Diaw. But I think last year was seeing Lebron in his prime.

    Now the Clippers are what the Lakers were during their 3 peat. They have a solid 2nd unit, a future HoF coach, and CP3. If they can't make it to the finals and take it down to a game 7, then like you said, they're cursed. If San Antonio could do it w/ their age, then Clips will really have 0 excuse.

    1. Paul, KG, Joe Johnson, Deron, Brook Lopez, AK47, Reggie Evans (rebound machine, played playoff minutes for BKN and LAC), Shaun Livingston (solid backup PG, Andray Blatche (I'm as surprised as you are…he was solid last season. Check out the game logs)….aaaaaand Jason Terry (RIP).

      That's a solid 10-man rotation. All have played well, and fill a role on this team. Not saying they're all starters, but they can be trusted for at least 15-20 minutes and are capable of 10-14 points if needed. Except Evans, but he can get you 10 boards. That equals trust.

      1. Reggie Evans gets boards and AK47 lets the choppa chop. Blatche w/ his JR Smith-esque shot selection and Livingston, I don't know. But even that 2nd unit vs. Lebron, Chalmers/Cole/Allen, Battier/Beasley, Birdman on swatting duty, and whomever else, it still seems like Miami would have the slight edge in 7 games. It'll be interesting to see how long it takes Jason Kidd to figure out the right combo of the 2nd unit. Because my #Knickstape coach took awhile to master that.

  4. I'll keep it short. Normally I would go ahead and pick Miami because well….Miami, lol. But the laws of probability are against them so by that factor alone, and that factor only, I can't go with the Heat.

    So I have Pacers v. OKC in the Finals. With Durant winning his first championship in 7 games.

  5. It's always down to who's healthy. If brooklyn can stay healthy while managing pierce and KG's minutes I see no reason for them not coming out the east. Indiana has a shot but they're not sexy enough to draw ratings and the NBA is predicated on ratings and talent, so they'll probably get hosed. NY was an abberation last year, that team WAS NOT a 50+ win team. And yes there's always Miami. They gtta be thanking their lucky stars LBJ doesn't rip break or tear anything, because w/o him it's a wrap. I don't care if you have Wade and Bosh. As far as the west it's always anyone's ballgame, I mean who expected memphis to be in the WCF last year?
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