Happy New Year to all of you readers out there! I hope 2014 brings you all you want, unless it directly contradicts what I want, and in that case, may the best man win. This piece isn’t about what I want or what you want. It’s about what’s actually going to happen. I’m putting on my clairvoyant hat—it’s a Heisenberg style fedora—and investigating what 2014 is going to look like for basketball fans.
1: Indiana and Miami will play in the Eastern Conference Finals
-I have to make sure I get one of these correct, and there isn’t a more sure thing in basketball right now than Miami and Indiana squaring off in the Conference Finals. It’s only a matter of whether Game 7 will be played in Miami or Indiana. Let’s make this more interesting…
2: An Eastern Conference Team will win the NBA Finals
-That’s a little bolder, right? Right now we know that there are only two teams in the Eastern Conference that have a chance to make the NBA Finals. The Western Conference is a totally different story. When there are thirteen teams in a conference that have a realistic chance to finish the season with a winning record, it makes sense that the four… five… maybe six teams could win the conference. I say six. I don’t think that I would dismiss the Thunder, Spurs, Blazers, Clippers, Rockets or Warriors as future representatives of the Western Conference in the NBA Finals come June, but as long as Indiana or Miami get there—and it will take divine intervention to disrupt that—I’m giving the edge to the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
3: The Charlotte Bobcats will win a playoff series
-This is a pretty bold claim considering we are talking about a franchise that has never won a playoff game, let alone a playoff series, in their decade long existence. I’m going as far out on a limb as I could without the branch breaking. It’s not like the Bobcats are lighting up the league at the moment. As of this writing, the Bobcats are 14-19, good enough for 6th in the Eastern Conference, but as long as they make the playoffs and avoid the two worst potential finishing spots in the NBA—7th or 8th in the Eastern Conference, in just as much trouble as anyone living in Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween night—I’ll take the Bobcats in a playoff series over any of the other Eastern Conference teams. I’ve watched more Bobcats basketball this year than I’d like to admit, and I have yet to see a game where I thought, “Man, they’re rotten egg fart stinky!” And in the Eastern Conference that says a whole lot.
4: Someone will score sixty points in a game in the 2014 calendar year
-Please note that I said calendar year. I need to give myself a little more time on this one since it’s a long shot and there’s really no way of predicting when a player will explode. The last time it happened was when Kobe Bryant went for 61 at Madison Square Garden in 2009. Unfortunately, the Black Mamba’s time for sixty point games is likely past, so the question now is who is next? The most likely candidates are Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love and if he had a reason to, LeBron James. Don’t sleep on Kyrie Irving, James Harden or DeMarcus Cousins either.
5: Carmelo Anthony will stay in New York
-Last January I emphatically stated that Dwight Howard would leave the Los Angeles Lakers and join the Houston Rockets at seasons end, and I didn’t waiver from that stance over the seven months that followed. Even though Dwight doesn’t always seem to use common sense, becoming a member of the Rockets was the move that made the most sense. Why not join a team with a young and established star in James Harden, and two potential mentors and post play Yoda’s in head coach Kevin McHale and Houston Rockets icon Hakeem Olajuwon? Escape the media circus of Los Angeles, play with a roster that was built like those successful Magic teams only on steroids, and learn from the two greatest post scores of all-time… it was a slam dunk move.
In Carmelo Anthony’s case, there isn’t a move that makes that much sense. The Lakers are the obvious choice for any marquee free agent, but the stability of the franchise creates a giant question hanging over head. The only other “big markets” that seem like they could appeal to Carmelo are the Dallas Mavericks, who time and time again have failed to bring in big time free agents, and the Chicago Bulls, who if they use the Amnesty Clause on Carlos Boozer after the season would have enough space to sign Anthony. There are just too many unknown variables for me to believe that Carmelo would leave Madison Square Garden and the robust New York market.