July 23, 2010

Threepeat Dreams

Posted at July 23, 2010 11:15 AM in Sports .

So the Lakers took the NBA championship in 7 games, like I had predicted. The Celtics were a worthy opponent -- when they went up 3-2 in the series, it was the first time the Lakers had trailed in a series during the entire playoffs. But they smoked the Celtics in Game 6, setting up the come from behind win in Game 7. A classic Finals.

But coverage of the NBA had already started to shift to the big names in free agency, and as soon as the Lakers were crowned champs the headlines became about Lebron, Wade, and Bosh all the time. All three decided to sign with the Miami Heat (with Lebron announcing his decision on a polarizing ESPN special) to create an Eastern conference superteam. Lebron clearly quit in the playoffs, and by joining Wade's team has basically admitted that he cannot be the primary option (a.k.a. alpha dog) on a championship team. While this hurts his legacy as an individual player, there is no doubt that the Miami Heat are transformed into a championship contender immediately. Pat Riley has already filled out the remaining roster with sharpshooters and wily veterans. His handpicked successor is coaching the squad, and you can never rule out the possibility that he may return to the sidelines himself. Other top Eastern teams such as the Celtics and Magic have kept themselves mostly intact, but I'm not sure they are capable of defeating the Heat in a 7 game series.

In the Western conference, the playoff teams from this year are likely to back in the playoffs next year (save perhaps Phoenix), but none have improved enough to beat the Lakers at full strength in a playoff matchup. So I think a Lakers-Heat final is quite possible.

If we are looking at a Lakers-Heat Finals next year, I think the Lakers are well equipped to handle it (barring injuries). Matt Barnes and Ron Artest will provide the pesky defense on the wings to make Lebron and Wade work hard for their points and Bosh will struggle against the length of Gasol and Bynum in the post. Steve Blake (from Maryland, Go Terps!) should help keep the ball moving and drain open 3s along with the ever reliable Derek Fisher.

Even Wade had to admit that the two-time defending champions are still the favorites next year, despite the Miami hype. I think the Heat will win championships -- likely even multiple championships. But only after the Lakers reign is over. And its not over yet. Threepeat here we come!


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