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This is long so I’ll skip the preamble. Check out the Western Conference Over/Unders and Previews here.
Prediction: OVER (55-27)
The Celtics are the darlings of the Eastern Conference right now. Part of that comes from a desperation to see someone, anyone challenge Lebron. But most of it is well deserved. They’re deep and talented and, most importantly, very very very well coached. Brad Stevens is one of the rare cases where all the hype and praise is deserved. Horford fits in perfectly on both ends of the court. Offensively he’ll space the floor and take pressure off Thomas at the end of games. Defensively he and Jalen Brown will turn an already impressive unit into one of the league’s best. They can play big or small, with as much depth and versatility as any roster in the league. And while neither Thomas nor Horford is the end of game killer you want on an elite team, Stevens will run sets to get them open looks.
Can they push Cleveland? That remains to be seen. They have elite defenders to throw at both Lebron and Kyrie – something nobody outside of Golden State can claim. What’s questionable is their ability to score with them down the stretch. For now they’re the second best team in the East. And I LOVE the Over.
Prediction: UNDER (47-35)
Look, I know the Raptors won 56 games last season. I know they took two off Cleveland in the Conference Finals. I know they return two All Star Guards, even if one of them is absolutely not an All Star Guards. I know they get a healthy Demarre Carroll. I don’t know… I just don’t believe in this team. They don’t move the ball that well. They’ll get worse both defensively and on the boards without Biyombo’s energy off the bench. And while I’m a fan of watching core groups develop over time, I don’t know how much further this Lowry-DeRozan-Valanciunas trio can really take you. Cory Joseph is awesome, Norman Powell showed some promise, and they’ll still win 45+ games on the strength of camaraderie and familiarity. But 50 wins and the Conference Finals just aren’t in the cards.
New York Knicks
Prediction: OVER (45-37)
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS. KRISTAPS PORZINGIS. KRISTAPS PORZINGIS. KRISTAPS PORZINGIS. KRISTAPS PORZINGIS. KRISTAPS PORZINGIS. KRISTAPS PORZINGIS. KRISTAPS PORZINGIS. KRISTAPS PORZINGIS.KRISTAPS PORZINGIS. KRISTAPS PORZINGIS. Full blog coming later today.
Prediction: UNDER (20-62)
Okafor and Noel stink. Embiid and Saric are awesome. When the latter two take the court, we’ll get a glimpse of how fun this Sixers team could be down the road, especially once Simmons is back. But even if Simmons does come back this season, this team is still headed back to the bottom of the league. TRUST THE PROCESS.
Prediction: UNDER (14-68)
Prediction: OVER (62-20)
Lot of Lebron/Cleveland stuff coming later this week so I’ll keep this brief. There’s a unique combination of 1) all the motivation to prove that they’re still the defending Champs, yet 2) very little pressure to do so during the regular season thanks to KD & the Warriors. There’s a level of comfort with this Cavs season that few, if any teams have played with. If Lebron goes for the MVP, this team ends up in the high 60’s. If Lebron goes on cruise control, this team still ends up somewhere around 59-60. Either way, I see HUGE seasons coming from Kyrie coming off that Finals perfromance and Love seeking redemption.
Prediction: OVER (48-24)
I wrote at length about Indy in the Paul George section of my MVP blog, so again, I’ll save some space here. Potentially awesome offensive team. Potentially terrible defensive team. But in the regular season, you can get away with that type of style more often than not. Paul George is a top 7 player in the league and will put that on full display this season with a top five MVP finish. Three seed in the East. Over is a Lock.
Prediction: UNDER (43-39)
Strong, deep, versatile roster. Decent building block in Drummond. Average–at best–point guard in Reggie Jackson when he returns from injury. Couple nice young pieces in KCP and Stanley Johnson. Boban is Boban and will do Boban things when he’s called from his cave. I don’t know, this team just screams meh. They’ll make the playoffs on the strength of Van Gundy’s coaching, but all I see is an unmemorable first round exit.
Prediction: UNDER (35-47)
Like everyone else I have no idea what to make of this Bulls team. Butler, Wade, and Rondo might already go down as the weirdest collection of very talented players in NBA history. There’s no shooting anywhere on this roster, Fred Hoiberg seems in way over his head, and those three Alpha personalities might legitimately kill each other at some point this season. I’m still working on a full-fledge Bulls blog before their opener tomorrow — aka desperately trying to make sense of this nonsensical roster. But right now I’m extremely confident they’re going Under 38.5 wins this season.
Prediction: UNDER (34-48)
This team is gonna be really fun to watch. Between Point Guard Giannis and now-somehow-freakishly-explosive Jabari, there’s a real foundation. Add in Super Cool Beas, NBA Champion Delly, Thon “I’m somewhere between 18 and 34 years old” Maker, and the ability they have to play lineups AVERAGING 6’11” with Giannis and rook Malcolm Brogdon in the backcourt, and this is now a must-watch League Pass team. But the loss of Khris Middleton really hurts. There’s no shooting on this team, and as fun as Giannis will be to watch, he’s not a go-to guy at this point. Ton of hope for the future in Milwaukee, it just won’t translate to wins this season.
Prediction: OVER (44-38)
I’m not fully on the Dwight Howard Homecoming Redemption bandwagon, but I’m at least jogging alongside for now. He’s not the best player on this team. That’s still Paul Millsap. But it feels like it’s Howards team – and maybe that sparks a rejuvenation. For all the shit he takes, he did shoot 62% from the field last year. If he’s given the touches and is willing to play in the pick and roll, it’s not hard to imagine him posting 18-12 a night. Bud will have to change the offensive scheme somewhat, but this team can still win what looks like the worst division in the league on the back of Millsap and a (potentially) rejuvenated, motivated Dwight.
Prediction: OVER (40-42)
Though they won’t repeat that 48 win season from a year ago, there’s a pretty steady floor in Charlotte. It’s hard to imagine them winning less than 37 games. It’s just, you know, hard to see them winning over 42. Losing Lin and Courtney Lee will hurt more than people expect, but the return of MKG will ease that. Most of the core guys on this team (Kemba, Batum, Williams) are coming off the best years of their career. If they can maintain or improve upon that, they can jump into that 7 or 8 seed. If there’s a drop off, they’ll be right on the outside looking in.
Prediction: UNDER (32-50)
This Wizards team has trainwreck written ALLLLLL over it. There’s no veteran leadership, Wall and Beal hate each other, and the Morris-Porter-Oubre trio of overrated, underwhelming forwards does absolutely nothing for me. Gortat and Mahinmi are quality centers, and Wall will still carry them to 30 wins once Beal eventually goes down again. But short of a trade for Boogie Cousins I’m very out on this Wizards team.
Prediction: OVER (41-41)
I gotta admit… I sneaky like this Orlando team. Yes, they’re a too crowded in the frontcourt. Yes, they lack any scoring punch. Yes, Elfrid Peyton isn’t a great point guard. But this team will be relentless defensively under Frank Vogel. If they can move Vujacic for some backcourt scoring/depth they could be a well rounded team. Aaron Gordon and Mario Hezonja should take big steps forward. And most importantly, we’re going to watch Serge Ibaka take a monster step forward offensively as the top option in a contract year. 8 Seed, jot that down.
Prediction: UNDER (33-49)
Miami is one of the hardest teams to pin down heading into the season. On the one hand, I could see them sneaking into the playoffs. Whiteside will anchor a strong defense. Dragic will push the pace offensively. Winslow and Richardson could thrive in expanded roles. On the other hand, a slow start could lead to Riley and Spo tanking the season to rebuild through the draft. As someone who has zero belief in “Hassan Whiteside, Franchise Cornerstone” and who wants to see Dion Waiters shoot 25 shots per game in a blatant tanking effort, I’m leaning towards the latter
- New York
Cleveland over Orlando
Boston over Detroit
New York over Indiana
Toronto over Atlanta
Cleveland over Toronto
New York over Boston
New York over Cleveland
Just kidding, Cavs in 7 over the Knicks on blown call.