The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.


                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







2007-08 NBA Overview

By Jerry Keys

Twenty years ago, making the NBA playoffs was about as hard as trying to locate a "hair band" concert in the east Tennessee area.  In those days, 16 teams made the playoffs, even though there were only 23 teams in the league (roughly a 70% chance of making the post-season, not to mention the old Eastern Conference with 11 teams and 8 playoff spots, almost a 75% chance).  The San Antonio Spurs were the #8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a commanding 31-51 record.  Although they were in the post-season, they were pitted against a team that had won twice as many games as them (62-20, the eventual champs, L.A. Lakers).  Compared to the NFL and MLB, 10 teams reached the playoffs out of 28 (36%) and only 4 out of 26 (15%) in MLB.

During the last twenty years, the NFL now sends 12 teams out of 32 (38%) to the playoffs and MLB 8 out of 30 (26%).  The NBA still sends 16 (53%) teams even though there are 30 teams in existence today.  It is better than twenty years ago but it still puts a damper on the regular season.

Jerry Keys

In the NCAA Division-I basketball tournament there are 65 schools that are nominated, by either a conference championship or an

at-large bid.  Some have expressed a desire to expand it to 128 teams or around 100 while giving the few top seeded teams a "bye" through the first round.  Watering down the regular season seems to be the general consensus.  Oh...I forgot, the more playoff games, the more revenue.  Could it be a money thing?  Surely not!

Since 16 of the 30 NBA teams will see playoff action, let's just skip to who should be there instead of commenting on the pedestrian-like regular season (where several teams tend to perform lackluster until February).  In the Eastern Conference, there are three contenders; the defending East champs Cleveland Cavaliers, the Boston Celtics, and after a ten-year hiatus, the Chicago Bulls.

There are two teams that could easily be in the above category but need too many things to fall into place, the Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons.  And to round out the final three playoffs spots from the East, the Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors, and Orlando Magic. 

With the addition of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the Celtics are the glam pick.  Paul Pierce must return to his old, dominant self as the remaining two favorites take aim.  The Bulls have in "in-place" a nucleus to take it to the next level.  Ben Gordan, Ben Wallace, Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni and Chris Duhon are familiar with

one another and have already started to jell as a team.

The Cavaliers bring back the same team they had last year as well.  LeBron James cannot do it alone.  He needs consistent help from Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes

or they may not make it back to the Finals.  The Pistons and Heat both got older, not better.  If Dwyane Wade suffers another injury-riddled season or does not post 30-plus points a game, the Heat will struggle for a #7 or #8 seed.  The Pistons are in much better shape than Miami but with the upgrades in Boston and a couple of younger team coming together (Cavs and Bulls), the Pistons have gone from a top contender to a second tier one.

The team to watch in the East is (yes I am serious) the Atlanta Hawks.  There is no superstar on the team and they are young and talented.  Mike Woodson has had the time needed to turn this team around.  Keep an eye on Al Horford.  2007-08 playoffs?  Maybe but if I picked them, how could they be a surprise team? 

The Western Conference will also send 8 teams to the playoffs, but only the top four will matter.  The bottom four (#5-8, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, L.A. Clippers, Golden State Warriors) are not seasoned enough to challenge the "Big 4".  Odds are extremely heavy that the 2007-08 NBA champs will be one of these four, the Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, and Houston Rockets. 

Keep in mind though; it was Utah who knocked out Houston in the 1st round

and Golden State who bested Dallas in the 1st round as well.  Upsets are ramped at times in the NBA playoffs but go ahead and mark your calendar for the Western Conference Finals, between San Antonio and Phoenix.  It will not be a Tim Duncan vs. Steve Nash show; each team throws out five highly respected players who believe in hard work and dedication.  Is it just me, or does this remind any of you of the old Lakers-Celtic free-for-alls in the early-to-late 80's?

As I stated not too long ago, I am not as ramped a fan of the NBA as I am of MLB, NCAA hoops, and NFL.  Blame it on the strike in '99.  But the NBA has cleared a lot more hurdles in those years than MLB, by far!  I would love to return to being a semi-avid basketball fan someday.

I cannot see any major surprise teams from the West (unless you could envision a lower seed nailing more than just one upper seed).  The Eastern Conference Finals should be:  Boston and Cleveland, and the Western Conference:  San Antonio and Phoenix.  It is too early to pick the two teams in the Finals just yet.  Just keep in mind the back pages of major newspapers; the Hawks will make some noise.  How much……over .500 record!