Early Life: Re-evaluating the NBA Finals picture

Nov. 23, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; San Antonio Spurs bench cheers as the Spurs take the lead against the Indiana Pacers during the second half at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

The young 2013-14 NBA season has been one of the strangest and most confusing ones in some time.

Teams that should be good aren’t, and teams that shouldn’t be good are. Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo have yet to make their season debuts and the Miami Heat are, in a way, quietly going about their business. Yet, most of the usual suspects are still at the forefront of the NBA Title picture. You can look here for more NBA Championship betting news and odds. With that said, let’s start at the top of the ladder — and go from there.

TOP OF THE LADDER

The back-to-back defending champion Miami Heat (12-3) has to be placed here. Even though they haven’t’ looked as crisp as the Indiana Pacers have all season long, they still shouldn’t be taken lightly. As I said, quietly, they’ve put together an eight-game winning streak. LeBron James is still LeBron James and Dwyane Wade has looked as healthy as he’s looked in quite some time. Also, don’t sleep on Chris Bosh. Plus, the Heat’s bench is better than people think – adding Michael Beasley was a very underrated move by Pat Riley and company.

With that said, if the Heat are at the top of the ladder, the San Antonio Spurs (13-2) and Indiana Pacers (14-1) have to be 1A and 1B, respectively. The Pacers have been insanely good defensively (allowing 89.3 points per 100 possessions) and Paul George has arrived. He’s going to be a real MVP threat (you know, if LeBron James dies or something). The Spurs, well, are the Spurs – 2nd in defensive rating and 6th in offensive rating. They just go about their business and get the job done.

CLIMBING THAT LADDER, BUT STRUGGLING

Los Angeles Clippers (11-5)

Enter any Doc Rivers led team — this year, the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers (11-5) are in the bottom of the half in the NBA on defense, but, luckily, their offense is good enough to save them on most nights. Chris Paul has been playing incredibly well, averaging 19.3 points, 12.5 assists and five rebounds per game, but, like I said, their defense still isn’t there entirely. The good thing is that, with Doc Rivers, you’d think that this team will improve at some point on that side of the ball.

Houston Rockets (11-5)

A team that has James Harden, Dwight Howard and a plethora of above-average role players always has a chance at winning in a star-driven league. But, like the Clippers, the Rockets struggle defensively, especially when Harden is asked to guard elite players. If somehow, the Rockets can avoid the Clippers, Spurs and Thunder and still get to the NBA Finals – that would be their perfect scenario.

Golden State Warriors (9-7)

The Warriors are a team that I can’t entirely trust right now. They have star power, in Stephen Curry, and a few very nice supporting players in Andrew Bogut, David Lee, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes. However, the fact that they are so reliant on the jump shot makes me nervous. However, what makes me feel better is the fact that they’re fifth in the league in defensive rating.

Oklahoma City Thunder (10-3)

Old faithful. The forgotten son.

The Thunder are not “wowing” us with the type of record, such as the Pacers, but let’s not forget that they still have two of the five best players in the NBA. Russell Westbrook looks great and doesn’t seem to have lost any speed or quickness from a couple of offseason surgeries. Also, Kevin Durant is still the second best player on the planet, despite the outcry for Paul George. Slow and steady wins the race, and the Thunder look to be right in the thick of it once things are said and done in June.

I JUST DON’T KNOW TEAMS

Portland Trail Blazers (13-3)

I. Just. Don’t. Know. The Blazers are off to a record start, but I’m not sure what that means. They have two very good players in Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge and some nice role players. They don’t have a superstar, nor a big name coach. But the way they’ve played, how can we discount them? Sure, they’ll have a chance but right now, I just don’t know.

 

 

Topics: Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, NBA, NBA Finals, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs

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  • Draftdog

    I have one burning question. With Doc Rivers as coach and a highly praised roster, why haven’t the Clippers played anything that might resemble defense? Could it be that Doc hasn’t gotten the highly praised roster to buy into playing both ends of the court? There is no excuse for this team to be struggling, and given Sterling’s legendary patience, I would watch for heads to roll next summer if this doesn’t turn around.

    • Michael Saenz

      I’m with you on that. I’m surprised he hasn’t gotten more heat than he’s received so far. Then again, he’ll get a pass this season because it’s his “first year”