NBA Preview: Beasts in the East

Posted: December 24, 2011 by ndbohlen in Celtics, Knicks, NBA, Opinion
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Christmas Day is almost upon us, which means I get to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus soon. I almost wish I were as Jewish as you for this Christmas, though, because I think I would much rather celebrate a full day of NBA basketball instead. (Although I must say, I do appreciate the early gift of Kobe’s wrist injury.)

On this holiest of the days (by which I mean the start of the NBA season and the arrival of more sports into our lives), the Celtics, Knicks, Heat, Bulls, and Magic, the five teams with the highest expectations going into this season, all play in the name of their Lord and Savior (I say that as a joke, but it’s probably true). In honor of the unexpected gift of a 66 game basketball season, Mike and I present you with a preview of the East (well, the teams that matter anyway, and clearly the West doesn’t count since we’re Knicks and Celtics fans, respectively).

We’ll take you through the highest hopes and the darkest nightmares of each of the top-five teams in the East, starting with the heavy favorites and heavily hated Miami Heat.

Miami Heat

Nick’s Best Case Scenario: LeBron sheds his false villainy and goes on a happy-go-lucky dominance of the league on his way to solving his fourth-quarter impotency issues and the MVP Award. Chris Bosh starts draining threes as part of his “extremely poor man’s Dirk Nowitzki” act, and starts to look more like a dinosaur and less like a baby bird whining for its mamma. Mike Miller still looks like white trash, but returns to his shooting form from 2009-2010. In other words, the NBA’s Dream Team finally gels in its second season to live up to all the hype and its billing as 2 to 1 favorites to win the NBA title.

Mike’s Worst Case Scenario: Joel Anthony averages more points than Chris Bosh and manages to beat him in a beauty contest at the same time. Dwayne Wade remains the only true team player and the new “flow offense” fails to take hold. The Heat are overwhelmed by their difficult schedule and fail for the second time to take the #1 seed in the East. After the Knicks shock them in the playoffs, ESPN goes on a feeding frenzy about Mike Bibby and how Erik Spoelstra underutilized him. Somebody notices that Bosh is getting paid more than Wade, and Bosh is immediately traded to the (Brooklyn) Nets for DeShawn Stevenson. Jay-Z produces an entire album dedicated to dissing Stevenson.

Chicago Bulls

Mike’s Best Case Scenario: The MVP returns with a better team to stampede over the East. Richard Hamilton returns to his career average PPG as the Bulls break the century mark in average offense, becoming one of the top-scoring teams in the league. Joakim Noah continues to dominate the boards making his atrocious facial hair more of a side note than anything. The only dark spot of the season happens on January 21st, when Michael Jordan visits town with his Charlotte Bobcats. The fans boo him for his role in prolonging the lock-out. The mood lifts as fans remember that the Bulls, ten days prior, were the first team to win all three of their back-to-back-to-back games. Chris Broussard downplays the importance of this feat and questions their ability to win. When Tim Thibodeau lifts the Championship Trophy above his head, Steven A. Smith mocks Broussard relentlessly on Twitter and dropkicks Skip Bayless. (Skip to 4:15 for the fireworks)

Nick’s Worst Case Scenario: Noah’s ugly mug gives his teammates severe nausea that impedes their playing ability, until one day the mirror in the team locker room finally shatters and a shard of glass puts out Luol Deng’s eye. Rip Hamilton looks more like Rip Van Winkle on the court, and his poor shooting causes him to drag this team down with his selfish habits and dirty play, inciting another player rebellion to get more money and have his coach fired. Finally, Derrick Rose continues to have to carry the underwhelming Chicago offense, forcing him to repeatedly drive into a thicket of opposing post players aiming to whack the bull’s eye (no pun intended) on his back after becoming the youngest MVP ever. He gets more and more banged up until he rolls his ankle horrifically on an awkward landing after being hammered on a driving lay-up attempt in the last week of the season, causing him to have to sit out for the playoffs and ending any shot at bringing the first MJ-less title to Chicago.

Boston Celtics 

Nick’s Best Case Scenario: Rondo rips off an “Eff You” season for the ages after three straight years of trade rumors and hollow endorsements from the front office, allowing Doc Rivers to rest his aging trio of stars during the grueling schedule and not cost the C’s too many games. The Celtics manage to sneak into the playoffs with the sixth seed with Paul Pierce, KG, and Ray Allen relatively fresh, and get hot at just the right time to promptly go on a tear through the playoffs like the ’99 Knicks, an eight seed that managed to get all the way to the NBA Finals. I would like to say it ends with an 18th championship banner to be raised to the banners in the Garden, with me celebrating lavishly thanks to my new well-paying job at Grantland as Bill Simmons’s apprentice and heir-apparent to the Sports Czar throne. But instead it’s just a moral victory of beating out the Heat to represent the East and lose to a rising Western power like the Thunder or the Grizzlies.

Mike’s Worst Case Scenario: Heaven’s waiting room of the NBA has the nurse come in and say “the doctor will see you now.” KG’s knees give out placing him on the bench for most of the season, and on the day of his anticipated return, he hurts himself again. Playing their back-to-back-to-back set against the Trailblazers, Lakers, and Clippers, which includes a trip from coast-to-coast, the Celtics are completely gassed and unable to keep up with the Western opposition. ESPN.com’s comment section is abuzz with people who have no lives arguing whether the Celts are even relevant anymore. Nick reads every comment, writes at least six responses, but decides not to post any because they would be better saved for the blog. Rondo plays incredibly well before asking to be traded to a “contender.” After playing the Knicks, Bulls, Nets, and the Heat (three times) in April, the Celtics are stomped out of the playoff race.

New York Knicks

Mike’s Best Case Scenario: The Knickerbockers, already drenched in talent, find that Iman Shumpert is ready to be a starter. He and Landry Fields share the position equally. The Knicks defense, led by Tyson Chandler, learns how to handle the Miami Heat as their 1990’s rivalry is reignited. Baron Davis returns from injury having shed 20 pounds of baby fat, and his comeback culminates when he explodes on his former team on April 20th. The Knicks clinch the second seed in the East. As the playoffs near, the MTA vs. Miami Dream Team becomes the most hyped story of the year. Alonzo Mourning sits courtside while Spike Lee moons him after every drained jumper by Amar’e. The New York psychopath fans get their fantasies fulfilled: the first championship since 1973.

Nick’s Worst Case Scenario: Baron Davis takes longer than expected to get healthy, and as he recovers, he simply gets fatter and fatter until it’s impossible to tell the difference between Davis, Donovan McNabb, and the Santa character from a Christmas season blaxploitation film. The Knicks then are forced to rely on Toney Douglas as a starter and Mike Bibby’s pale and lifeless corpse to lead the bench scoring. With no backcourt help and no frontcourt depth, Mike D’Antoni is forced to lean on his trio of All-Stars for 40+ minutes per game. With a game almost every other day and D’Antoni wont to sacrifice his coaching job for Stoudemire’s career, Amar’e’s knees explode after a thunderous dunk, in a fashion reminiscent of that South Park episode when Kyle decides to become black and has his knees reconstructed from Mr. Garrison’s testicles. Amid the ego trips and the Big Apple media spotlight, the Knickerbockers self-combust and get swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Indiana Pacers. Melo then holds the team hostage in asking for another trade after LaLa finds a new opportunity for a reality TV show in another city.

Orlando Magic

Nick’s Best Case Scenario: Dwight Howard turns out to actually be Superman and thunder-dunks constantly on the entire league while averaging a 30-15 with 3 blocked shots per game. He leads the Magic to a great first half showing and brings back a ton of assets in a midseason trade (don’t ask me what team or which players; this is about the Magic, okay!?). With their great record before the trade, and a second-half surge behind a complement of good, but not great, players (much like last year’s Nuggets), the Magic surprise everyone by winning in the first round of the playoffs and taking the Miami Heat to Game 7 in the second round before falling gallantly and retreating to Disney Land to celebrate with Mickey Mouse.

Mike’s Worst Case Scenario: Did you see the first half of Wednesday’s pre-season game against the Heat? That happens all season.

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