Miami is 2nd in the East and they have star-power (James/Wade/Bosh). They have the talent but can they overcome mental lulls and setbacks? Will the favorites come together under the pressure or succumb to it again? They got the best of the Bulls in the East, but fell short against Dallas in the Finals.
OKC is battling San Antoio for the top seed in the West. They have the highest-scoring duo (Durant/Westbrook) and the leading shot-blocker (Ibaka). They are not physical and can be pushed around inside because of their finesse. What happens when their point guard isn’t hitting shots like last year’s postseason? They lost to the Mavericks in the Western Finals last year, who later became the champs.
Lakers are currently the 3rd seed in the West, have recent championships, the leading scorer (Bryant) and two 7-foot all-stars (Gasol/Bynum). The downside is their inner turmoil and lack of depth. If they don’t put their egos aside they might get eliminated early again. They got swept by the Mavericks in the 2nd round last postseason.
Chicago has the best record for the 2nd year in a row, playing without their starting backcourt (Rose/Hamilton) with the best bench making them the deepest team in the league. Can they put up enough points? They lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to Miami last year.
The Spurs had the best record in the Western Conference last year and currently edge the Thunder this season. They have been rejuvenated by the fountain of youth and look to be complete. They need to stay healthy and score collectively. They were handed a 1st round playoff exit by Memphis.
The Grizzlies are slotted as the 5th seed in a tight race that could boost them up to 3rd or slide them down to 8. They are strong inside with perimeter shooting. Can they stop the quicker teams and limit fastbreaks? They like to play slow ball and pound you down low. Last year they lost in the 2nd round, but took OKC to 7 games without Rudy Gay. This is the dark horse team to watch in the Western Conference.