NBA Season Preview

Written by Square in the Air

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NBA 2014/15 Season Preview

The NBA is back once again and this year promises to be one of the most exciting seasons ever. The normally sedate offseason was full of scandal, superstar players changing teams, massive media rights deals and Donald Sterling having to sell the Los Angeles Clippers after becoming embroiled in a race related scandal. The battle to become the NBA’s premier team is a long, and often winding road.  Over the course of a marathon 82-game regular season, 30 teams (29 in the States and one in Canada) will aim to be one of the top 8 teams in their respective conferences, either Eastern or Western, thus qualifying them for the 16-team playoffs and giving them a chance to lift the trophy. The Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls set the seemingly unbreakable record for regular season wins at 72; however any team with 55 or more regular season wins is now considered to have the potential to go deep into the playoffs. The San Antonio Spurs are the reigning champions, but will they defy convention, and an aging roster, to return to the summit again? We take a look at the teams across both Conferences in with the best chance of lifting the coveted Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy come June…

Eastern Conference Preview

The Eastern Conference has never really had the depth of quality sides to match the Western conference but has managed to produce one or two rock solid teams every year, like the Miami Heat of Dwayne Wade and LeBron James, the Orlando Magic of Shaquille O’Neal, or the Chicago Bulls of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and living legend coach Phil Jackson. In a shocking u-turn, LeBron James has left the Miami Heat to return to his childhood roots in Cleveland for the Cavaliers. Without LeBron, the Heat look like a spent force, which means they aren’t amongst the three teams that look most likely to compete for the right to contest the NBA finals against the best of the West. Teams to watch:

The Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Last season’s team posted a record of just 33 wins versus 49 losses. However with the return of prodigal son LeBron, and a strong supporting cast around him, expect the Cavs to pile up the wins in a weak conference. They are the early favourites to advance to the NBA finals.
The Chicago Bulls
  • Derrick Rose, perhaps the NBA’s brightest talent, seems to have finally beaten his recurring knee injury to sparkle in preseason. He almost singlehandedly delivered the Bulls to an unexpected championship a few years ago. The Bulls, famed for defensive capabilities, managed 48 wins last season without him and will now look to add significantly to that total.  The Cavs’ most likely opponents in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Washington Wizards
  • If the Bulls win games with defense, count on the Wizards to excite at the other end of the court with a plethora of natural scoring talent on their books.  A young and exciting team that surprisingly lost in the first round of last year’s playoffs, Washington should be able to run the Cavs and Bulls close this year.

Western Conference Preview 

For those who haven’t been following the NBA of late, it may feel like the world has turned upside down in the West. These days the L.A. Lakers are terrible, the L.A. Clippers are fantastic, and the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks will likely miss the playoffs. The San Antonio Spurs, however, are still a juggernaut, mixing solid perimeter shooting with dominating big men, and will likely finish the season with 58 wins and make a serious challenge to retain their crown. Some things never change. Teams to watch:

The Los Angeles Clippers
  • The Clippers are practically the same team on the court that they were last year, where they finished with 57 wins largely due to superb power forward Blake Griffin. Their most important off-season acquisition is sure to be new owner Steve Ballmer, who has already injected the side with enthusiasm and a real desire to start winning championship.
The San Antonio Spurs
  • Guided by Gregg Popovich since 1996, the Spurs have posted consecutive winning regular seasons (more than 41 wins) for the past 17 seasons. Last year they posted the NBA’s best record on the way to winning Popovich’s fifth title. Expect San Antonio to be there or thereabouts during the business end of the playoffs.
The Oklahoma City Thunder
  • The Thunder’s roster boasts two of the best players in the NBA in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. However, with Durant out for the first month of the season, the rest of the squad will have to produce without him. They will almost certainly make the playoffs, but can they beat the Spurs or Clippers over a seven game playoff series?
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