Writers from the Tribune Co. try to predict which teams will be the last four standing at the end of the upcoming NBA season. Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the discussion with a comment of your own.
Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times
Barring injuries and any other calamities that always seems to take hold of some team in the NBA, trying to decide which four teams will reach the conference finals is no easy task.
In the Eastern Conference, it is easy to pick the Miami Heat. After all, they are the favorites to win the NBA championship -– again.
The Boston Celtics are an aging group, so unless they find the fountain of youth, it’s hard to see them in the finals.
The Orlando Magic is in a quandary with the Dwight Howard will-he-be-traded situation. So no one knows how good this team will be and if Howard will even be on the team by season’s end.
That leaves the Chicago Bulls as the only other choice to meet the Heat in the East finals. The Bulls have reigning MVP Derrick Rose and they added Richard Hamilton to their backcourt.
As for the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder seems poised to take that next step and reach the conference finals for the second straight season.
After that, it’s really hard to choose.
The Lakers aren’t the team they once were and are getting older. The new-look Clippers are exciting with Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Blake Griffin, but it’s going to take some time for them to coalesce.
Well, that leaves the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks to get back to the conference finals, and they aren’t as strong as last season: they lost Tyson Chandler, their anchor on defense and Caron Butler, who joined the Clippers.
But until the Mavericks are knocked off, they are the team to beat.