2009 NBA Predictions

2009 NBA Predictions
By Ryno of Predictem.com

With the 2009 NBA season quickly approaching, here are my predictions for what will happen this year around the National Basketball Association:

Atlantic Division
Boston Celtics 65-17
Philadelphia 76ers 39-43
Toronto Raptors 33-49
New Jersey Nets 27-55
New York Knicks 25-57

No team in the Atlantic Division is if even close to the same level as the Celtics. It’s like the Celtics are the New York Yankees and the rest of these teams are Double-A teams. Boston was incredible last season, even when Kevin Garnett was out. With Garnett back and Rasheed Wallace in the lineup, imagine how good this team can be. The Sixers have some talent with Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young, but much of their team is young and it seems that they are building towards the future. The Raptors are always a competitive team with their Euro-style play, but they simply don’t have the talent to be a playoff contender. The Nets and the Knicks may as well not even play this season. Both teams are just waiting for the 2010 offseason, when they can try to lure in LeBron James.

Central Division
Cleveland Cavaliers 63-19
Chicago Bulls 47-35
Detroit Pistons 41-41
Indiana Pacers 32-50
Milwaukee Bucks 24-58

LeBron James wasn’t able to win the NBA Championship himself, so the Cavs signed Mo Williams. The two of them weren’t able to bring home the title, so now the Cavs are essentially all-in with Shaquille O’neal. Will LeBron and an old Shaq be as good as Kobe and a Shaq in his prime? Probably not. But the Cavs have to at least get to the NBA Finals to keep LeBron in town. The Bulls lost Ben Gordon, but Derrick Rose will carry them to the playoffs. The Pistons have a totally different team this season, but they have enough talent with Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Rodney Stuckey and Richard Hamilton to make the playoffs. The Pacers and Bucks each have one all-star-caliber player on their roster, but the remaining talent makes those teams cellar-dwellars.

Southeast Division
Orlando Magic 58-24
Atlanta Hawks 50-32
Washington Wizards 45-37
Charlotte Bobcats 38-44
Miami Heat 32-50

The Magic tasted success last season by reaching the NBA Finals, but it ended quickly. Not re-signing Hedo Turkoglu may have hurt their chances of getting back there this year, but acquiring Vince Carter keeps them in the mix. The Hawks bring back the same team with the addition of Jamal Crawford. Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, Al Horford and Josh Smith will lead them to 50 wins. With Gilbert Arenas finally healthy, the Wizards could be a contender in the East, but the lack of an inside game will keep them from competing with the Magic. The Bobcats are getting closer and closer to becoming a playoff team. This could be the year. The Heat still have Dwyane Wade, but he doesn’t have the help he needs anymore.

Southwest Division
San Antonio Spurs 54-28
New Orleans Hornets 46-36
Dallas Mavericks 45-37
Houston Rockets 36-46
Memphis Grizzlies 32-50

The Spurs have added Richard Jefferson to give them more offense at small forward. Bruce Bowen retired, which could hurt them on defense. The Spurs are a very old team, but they have some talented veterans who will get them over 50 wins. The Hornets had a disappointing season last year, but Emeka Okafor could get them back into the top tier in the West. The Mavs added Shawn Marion, but they still don’t have a quality big man or the defense to get to the NBA Finals. The Rockets looked good without Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady against the Lakers in the playoffs, but not having Yao for a whole season will really hurt them. McGrady isn’t going to help much, and Aaron Brooks and Trevor Ariza can’t carry a team to the playoffs. The Grizzlies have a ton of talent with O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Allen Iverson and Hasheem Thabeet, so they will be improved, but the chemistry won’t be there.

Northwest Division
Portland Trail Blazers 53-29
Denver Nuggets 52-30
Utah Jazz 50-32
Oklahoma City Thunder 28-54
Minnesota Timberwolves 18-64

The Blazers, Nuggets and Jazz will be competing all season long in the Northwest Division. If Greg Oden can stay healthy and be effective, the Blazers could be the top team in this division all season long. Even without him, having Andre Miller at point guard will drastically improve the Blazers. The Nuggets proved last year that they are an elite team and it will be no different this year. The Jazz are so deep in talent that they are ready to break out among the best in the West. Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer will lead them to 50 wins. The Thunder will keep improving as Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and now James Harden get older and more mature. The T-Wolves will be an awful team this season. Al Jefferson will get them a few wins, but the stands will be pretty empty all season long in Minnesota.

Pacific Division
LA Lakers 62-20
Phoenix Suns 42-40
LA Clippers 41-41
Golden State Warriors 32-50
Sacramento Kings 20-62

The Lakers were incredible last season. The defending champs replaced Trevor Ariza with Ron Artest. Now, they could be even better, but improving upon their 65 wins from last season will be hard to do. The Suns still have Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire, but the two of them don’t have enough quality role players to get much above .500. The Clippers could be the most improved team in the NBA this season with Blake Griffin in the mix, but it might be enough to reach the playoffs in the West. The Warriors will be competitive with their up-and-down style (especially at home), but until they figure out they need a real big man they won’t be a playoff contender. The Kings will be competing with the T-Wolves for the worst team in the NBA. Tyreke Evans won’t be able to carry the Kings too far.

Eastern Conference
#1 Boston Celtics vs. #8 Philadelphia 76ers (Celtics in 5)
#2 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #7 Detroit Pistons (Cavaliers in 5)
#3 Orlando Magic vs. #6 Washington Wizards (Magic in 7)
#4 Atlanta Hawks vs. #5 Chicago Bulls (Hawks in 7)

The 76ers and Pistons both have enough playoff experience to compete, but ultimately the Celtics and Cavaliers are just too elite to lose more than one game in their series. Gilbert Arenas has been out of basketball for so long that he can’t wait to get back to the playoffs. In a winnable series against the Magic, he will carry them to a few wins, but Dwight Howard will be able to dominate down low and get the Magic a Game 7 victory. The Hawks and Bulls are very evenly matched, but Al Horford and Josh Smith will be able to have their way inside and get the Hawks a Game 7 win at home.

Western Conference
#1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. #8 Phoenix Suns (Lakers in 4)
#2 San Antonio Spurs vs. #7 Dallas Mavericks (Spurs in 5)
#3 Portland Trail Blazers vs. #6 New Orleans Hornets (Trail Blazers in 7)
#4 Denver Nuggets vs. #5 Utah Jazz (Jazz in 6)

The Suns just aren’t the same that they used to be. Kobe will shut down J-Rich, Gasol will shut down Amar’e, and the Lakers will roll. The Mavs have no answer for Tim Duncan down low. The Blazers and Hornets could be a terrific series. Chris Paul and Andre Miller match up well at the point, Emeka Okafor and David West will have a slight advantage down low, but the difference will be Brandon Roy. The Nuggets had their opportunity last season, but this year the Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer will outperform Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony.

Conference Quarterfinals
Boston Celtics vs. Atlanta Hawks (Celtics in 6)
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Orlando Magic (Cavaliers in 7)
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Utah Jazz (Lakers in 5)
San Antonio Spurs vs. Portland Trail Blazers (Trail Blazers in 6)

The Hawks gave the Celtics all they could handle in the 2008 playoffs, so they will win a couple games in that series. The Magic eliminated the Cavs last season, so the Cavs want revenge. It will once again be an excellent series, but with the Magic not having Turkoglu and the Cavs adding Shaq, Cleveland can match up better with the Magic this year and LeBron will ensure a Game 7 victory at home. The Jazz have enough talent to win one game against the Lakers, but Kobe and Gasol mean business. The elderly Spurs and the youthful Blazers could put together a classic series. Brandon Roy will once again carry the Blazers through another series, as they attempt to shock many and get to the NBA Finals.

Conference Finals
Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (Celtics in 7)
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers (Lakers in 5)

The Celtics and Cavs could have one of those playoff series that gets shown on TV over and over again for the next few decades. These teams have loaded up on talent this year for a chance to win an NBA championship. LeBron and Shaq against Garnett, Pierce, Rasheed Wallace and Ray Allen just makes NBA fans salivate. LeBron will do all he can to carry the Cavs, but the Celtics have so many weapons that they will be able to advance back to the NBA Finals with a down-to-the-wire Game 7 victory in Boston. The Blazers made a nice run to the conference finals, but much like the Nuggets last year, the Lakers are just too much.

NBA Finals Prediction
Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers (Celtics in 7)

This series could be just as amazing as the Celtics-Cavs series. These two teams battled in the 2008 NBA Finals and the Celtics won the title. The Lakers got back there last season and took home the trophy. The Lakers will breeze through the playoffs to their third straight NBA Finals, but the Celtics have the Lakers’ number. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett dominated the Lakers in the 2008 Finals. With an improved Rajon Rondo and an extra weapon in Rasheed Wallace, the Celtics will win their second NBA championship in three years.