5 Most Surprising Teams
1) New Jersey Nets
Preseason Projection: 19-63; Current Record: 13-12
Most people, including myself, predicted that the Nets would be one of the 5 worst teams in the league. Somehow, we are proven wrong. Devin Harris is one of the top 5 candidates for the Most Improved Player of the Year award. He averages 24.5 points per game, nearly 10 points over his last season’s 14.8 ppg. The Nets seem having two biggest stars, Harris and Vince Carter, an eight-time All-Star forward who averages 23.0 ppg this season. Also, they have a couple of their best defenders, Jarvis Hayes from the Detroit Pistons and Keyon Dooling from the Orlando Magic. With Dooling and Hayes’ defensive advantages, the Nets have proven that they are one of the potential playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference.
2) Cleveland Cavaliers
Preseason Projection: 53-29; Current Record: 22-4
Surprisingly, the Cavaliers are the best defensive team this season. They limit their opponents to 89.2 ppg. As of Dec 19, they are the only remaining team with its perfect home 13-0 record, its franchise’s new record. They had 11-game winning streak before losing to the Atlanta Hawks on Dec 13. LeBron James is one of the top 5 candidates for the MVP award. Of course, I would definitely pick LBJ for the MVP award. Since the Detroit Pistons have disappointingly gone to the downhill with Allen Iverson, the Cavaliers are now the heavy favorites for the Central Division championship. I won’t be surprised if the Cavaliers can surpass the Boston Celtics’ record for the East’s best record! I strongly consider Mike Brown as my top candidate for the Coach of the Year award.
3) Atlanta Hawks
Preseason Projection: 38-44; Current Record: 16-10
Very surprising, the Hawks are in the second place behind the Orlando Magic in the Southeast Division. They have surpassed the Washington Wizards, who are stunningly the worst team in the Eastern Conference. They have beaten the Orlando Magic, New Orleans Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers this season. They almost beat the Boston Celtics twice but the all-time arrogant Celtics obviously CHEATED the Hawks into the horrible embarrassment in front of the disgusting Hawks spectators on Dec 17. Honestly, I was very disappointed in the Hawks for not beating my No. 1 hateful team, LOSER Celtics! (Argh!) I hope that the Hawks will take their revenge by beating the stupidest Celtics in the next two games to tie the season series at 2-2! The Hawks are currently No. 4 seed behind the Celtics, Cavaliers and Magic and ahead of the Detroit Pistons in the East.
4) Denver Nuggets
Preseason Projection: 44-38; Current Record: 17-9
After the 1-3 start, the Nuggets made its right move by acquiring Chauncey Billups from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Allen Iverson. Looking like a winner, they are 16-6 since the Billups-Iverson trade. They currently lead the Northwest Division. As of Dec 19, they are one of the only two teams that have beaten the bragging Boston Celtics. In truth, I keep my fingers crossed that the Nuggets will SWEEP the two-game season series against the defending NBA champions when they host the Celtics in Denver on February 23, 2009.
5) Portland Trail Blazers
Preseason Projection: 49-33; Current Record: 17-10
At the average 24.1 age, the Trail Blazers are the second youngest team behind the Golden State Warriors (24.0). They led the Northwest Division once or twice before the Denver Nuggets took the division’s lead. The Blazers have beaten a number of the good teams, including San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Hornets and Phoenix Suns at home and Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons on the road. On Dec 18, Brandon Roy had career-high 52 points in the Blazers’ 124-119 victory over the Suns, snapping its 11-game losing streak against the Suns. They also improved to 9-2 at home this season.
5 Most Disappointing Teams
1) Boston Celtics
Preseason Projection: 51-31; Current Record: 25-2
Obviously, the all-time LOSER Celtics are still CHEATING all opponents, like they did last year. After 2 losses, they must have found something in secret that they REFUSE to lose any game. They have won the 17 straight games since Nov 14, last time they lost to the Denver Nuggets at home. I cannot stand the sickest Celtics anymore, especially Kevin Garnett (whom I always hate!), Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Not to mention, I also hate Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, Eddie House, Tony Allen, Sam Cassell and all others on the sucked team! The Celtics have limited the opponents to 90.9 ppg, and their averaged margin is 10.4 ppg. I’m so SICK of seeing this LOSER team staying in the top of the league. They are the most overrated team ever in the NBA this season! I LOVE to see this sickest team LOSING to all opponents, especially league-worst Oklahoma City Thunder! Ha, Ha, Ha! I hope that either Orlando Magic or Cleveland Cavaliers WILL SURPASS the Celtics’ record for the East’s best record later this season, period! I don’t want to see the Celtics coming back to the NBA Finals. They have ENOUGH 17 NBA championships and DO NOT need another damn one! NO more NBA championships for the Celtics, period! It’s TIME for a different team, such as Magic, Cavaliers, New Orleans Hornets and Utah Jazz, to get its first NBA championship in each franchise’s history. This is a main reason why I have never put the Celtics on my top 5 teams list. End of story!
2) Los Angeles Lakers
Preseason Projection: 68-14; Current Record: 21-4
Despite its best record in the West, I’m very disappointed in the Lakers that they are still having problems with defense lately. I was very impressive with the Lakers’ one-time best defense that they limited the opponents to 86.7 ppg in the first 7 games before they embarrassingly lost to the supposed-be weaker Pistons with ‘loser’ Allen Iverson at home, snapping their 7-0 perfect home record. In the last 13 games prior to last night’s game versus the Miami Heat, they allowed the opponents to score averaged 103.8 points that doesn’t look good. It was unacceptable and NO excuse for the supposed-be league-best Lakers to lose to the three average or lowly teams (Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and lately Heat)! Like they had done in the first 7 games, their defense should have won over the Pacers, Kings and Heat on the road! They would have the league’s best record at 24-1! Unfortunately, I can see that the Lakers have too much problems with poor defense, which they can’t play in the way what the Cavaliers and Celtics have played. The Cavaliers and Celtics are the top two defensive teams in the league that each team limits their opponents to 91 or fewer ppg. I really wish that the Lakers and Celtics should SWITCH for the league’s best record! After the embarrassing loss to the cheap Heat, the Lakers are going to have tougher times against a couple of the elite teams, Orlando Magic and New Orleans Hornets, on the road. Both Magic and Hornets may give the Lakers more troubles than they had with the Heat last night. That was why I was wise that I did not label my Lakers-Magic and Lakers-Hornets predictions on North Harbour’s NBA Pick Em Challenge blogs. The Lakers’ poor defense worries me, especially facing the Celtics on Christmas Day!
3) Detroit Pistons
Preseason Projection: 61-21; Current Record: 14-10
It personally saddened me that the Pistons lost their best team leader, Chauncey Billups, when he was sent to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Allen Iverson last month. The Pistons made its blockbuster trade for the salary cap purposes. Billups is still on his contract through 2011 while Iverson and Rasheed Wallace are in the final year of their contracts. With Iverson and Wallace potentially off the books, the Pistons will have approximate $35 million available to spend on the free-agent market in the 2009 summer. Since the Billups-Iverson trade, the Pistons are on the downhill at 10-10. Suppose Billups remains with the Pistons, they would have the best record between 21-3 and 22-2 in the East by now and finish with the East’s top seed spot. They also should have defeated the average or lowly teams (i.e. Minnesota Timberwolves, Washington Wizards, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks) instead of embarrassingly losing to them. I would consider their losses to the underdogs unacceptable and inexcusable as if I were the Pistons fan in the same way I’ve been dealing with the Lakers’ three embarrassing losses to the heavy underdogs. Of course, the Pistons should have defeated the baddest Boston Celtics in the first two of the four games to take a 2-0 lead in the season series. Unfortunately, in reality with Iverson, the Pistons are projected to finish as the disappointing No. 4 or 5 seed and possibly get exited in the first or second round. This is why I would rather have Billups on my team because he is truly a veteran leader and team player. Iverson sucks because he is so selfish, troublemaker and one of the all-time losers!
4) Washington Wizards
Preseason Projection: 48-34; Current Record: 4-20
The Wizards lost a few key players due to the injuries or player transactions. Gilbert Arenas (knee) and Brendon Haywood (right wrist) haven’t played this season. Arenas had a third knee operation last September. His return remains uncertain, although some rumors have stated that he is expected to return in around January 2009. Haywood underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist before the preseason began. He is expected to miss the entire season. Roger Mason and Antonio Daniels are no longer with the club. Mason currently plays for the San Antonio Spurs. Daniels was sent to the New Orleans Hornets in the three-team trade that also involved the Memphis Grizzlies on Dec 10. After the horrible 1-10 start, head coach Eddie Jordan was fired. At the bottom line, the Wizards still struggle with lacks of defense.
5-tied) Golden State Warriors
Preseason Projection: 48-34; Current Record: 7-20
The Warriors have lost some key players for some reasons. Baron Davis opted out and signed a multi-year contract with the Los Angeles Clippers in the offseason. Mickael Pietrus signed with the Orlando Magic. Monta Ellis hasn’t played in a game this season because of an ankle injury that has sidelined him for over 2 months. They have new players, Corey Maggette (via free agency) and Jamal Crawford (via trade from New York Knicks for Al Harrington). They are the youngest team at the average 24.0 age and have 9 players younger than 23 years of age. They seem lacking experiences of playing at the pro level that is tougher than college basketball.
5-tied) Philadelphia 76ers
Preseason Projection: 50-32; Current Record: 12-14
After Elton Brand joined the 76ers club from the Los Angeles Clippers via free agency in the offseason, many predictions believed that the 76ers should be one of the playoff contenders. Somehow, they turned out to be disappointing as a losing team in the first 23 games. Team president Ed Stefanski fired head coach Maurice Cheeks and replaced him with assistant general manager Tony DiLeo after the 76ers stumbled to a slow 9-14 start. Although the 76ers have improved to 3-0 under DiLeo, they already lost Brand for a month. Brand suffered with a dislocated right shoulder in the 76ers’ 93-88 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at home on Dec 17.
My game predictions on Christmas Day
@ Orlando Magic 115, New Orleans Hornets 108
@ Phoenix Suns 102, San Antonio Spurs 97
@ Los Angeles Lakers 142, Boston Celtics 88
@ Cleveland Cavaliers 103, Washington Wizards 85
Dallas Mavericks 102, @ Portland Trail Blazers 100
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!