NFC East Winner

With the NFL season underway, teams get set to take the field in week one. Although there are 32 teams meaning there are 32 predictions for each team, I’m only going to focus on four teams. The four teams I will discuss each belong in the NFC East. I’m referring to the Eagles, Cowboys, Redskins, and Giants. In this post I will talk about which team has the best chance to win and why the others fall short.

The Philadelphia Eagles, I would be surprised if anyone let alone any Eagles fan expected quarterback Nick Foles to have the year he had. Foles threw for 27 touchdowns and 2 interceptions for 2,891 yards (according to Now as great as these numbers sound, they’re unlikely to happen two years in a row. A couple things benefited Foles last season, the fact that teams had no film on him, having a serious deep ball receiver like DeSean Jackson and finding strengths in Riley Cooper but surprisingly, the offense Chip Kelly ran seemed to fit Nick Foles more than the preseason favorite Michael Vick. Some things I noticed while watching them play is although the offense maintained their fast pace, no huddle flow they definitely ran a different offense when Foles was on the field as opposed to Vick. The offense seemed to fall more into Foles strengths as a pocket passer and using the big tight ends as big targets whereas Vick seemed out of sync and struggled to find a flow in the offense that should of honestly fell right into the quarterback he is regardless of how fragile he is. Regardless, I predict Foles to struggle this year especially when you include the fact that Jackson is no longer on the team and is now a rival. Maclin is back in form this season but there is serious concern on whether or not he can stay healthy.

The defense has to perform better as well this season. Last season the Eagles defense went more with a less complex formation but they still need to add more pressure on the opposing offenses. Their problems were in the secondary when the defensive line and linebackers would constantly blitz. Adding Malcolm Jenkins will help as far as leadership but I still find the offense strong enough to win the NFC East once again.

Although I don’t see Nick Foles having the year he had last year, he still has enough options to get things done and I haven’t even mentioned the back field yet. The Eagles quite possibly the best running back in the game right now in LeSean McCoy and with the addition of Darren Sproles, the run game is guaranteed positive yardage on every run along with every pass in the back field.

Chip Kelly has found a way to revamp this Eagles team and not only win, but make them exciting to watch, he has brought the same style of offense he ran at Oregon which may be a negative. It gives opponents more film to review and even though the talent differs between the two teams (Oregon and Philadelphia) it could bring exposure.

Another team in the NFC East is the Washington Redskins. A team that has brought a lot of hype after Robert Griffin III’s rookie season, but after his knee injury it has begun to die down. RGIII has not looked the same since his rookie season and has really struggled, he has become less and less of a threat on the ground and his pocket passing ability has really been in question. It’s tough to put all fault on one guy when referring to an entire team, but when you name a rookie a captain a lot goes with that and speaks on what the team had in hopes for RGIII.

DeSean Jackson was a good pick up for the team but I don’t think his talent is enough to put the Redskins at the top. The others receivers are not enough of a threat to leave Jackson deep and I see Robert having a tough time finding Jackson in their offense. Alfred Morris remains in the backfield and has been consistent the last two seasons but isn’t the type of running back that can carry the load.

The team made a change in the head coaching position with the addition of Jay Gruden which will be interesting this season since this will be his first season as a head coach in the NFL so there will be a lot of questions on weather or not be can get out of the arena football style of offense.

The Redskins look like a team bound to struggle this season, they will have identity issues with a new head coach and haven’t been much of a defensive threat for a while.

The New York Giants are another team bound to struggle. Eli Manning hasn’t found his grove and with the defense disappearing year after year and becoming less and less of a factor, the Giants need to revamp themselves into the team that won two Super Bowl in a span of four years. They took a chance with getting a new offensive coordinator in Ben McAdoo and so far, it doesn’t seem to be a good move. Eli seems frustrated in what McAdoo is asking and in general, plays aren’t being executed.

The Giants hold a threat regardless of their talent because also seem to get things done when it matters most, but I don’t believe that will happen this season. The two years they won the Super Bowl, they were a sleeper through the whole playoffs but the one thing they had in their favor was a defense and like many analysts say, defense wins championships. The Giants don’t have enough on defense to oppose a threat.

The last team in the NFC East is the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are one of the most talked about teams in the NFL and understandably, they have an owner in Jerry Jones that likes to keep his team relevant regardless of their talent or record. They have a quarterback who has the best comeback record but the worst post season record in the NFL.

The Cowboys are arguably the most talented offenses in the division but also the weakest defensively. They have a star in Dez Bryant and a strong running back in DeMarco Murray along with a strong tight end with Jason Witten but always seems to fall apart at the worst times and that is credited to Tony Romo, he is known as the world class choke artist. Looking that their schedule, it’s tough for a team trying to lead the division and I see them getting lucky to finish with another 8-8 season.


Carmelo Anthony’s Next Destination

One player that is being fairly admired in free agency (just behind Lebron James) is Carmelo Anthony. Although there are many teams that could use Anthony…offensively, there are only three realistic destinations for the seven time all star: the Bulls, Knicks, and Lakers. All three realistic for different reasons, I’ll explain why each team is on Melo’s mind and where I think he will land.
First stop, the New York Knicks. Carmelo has been with New York for the last four seasons and what looked like a dream come true for him has turned out to be more like a disaster. When the move was first made in 2011 it seemed like putting on a Knicks jersey would bring the best out of Carmelo. Being from Brooklyn and attending Syracuse for one year, New York was home for him. Unfortunately the Knicks were never able to produce when it mattered most like when they entered last seasons playoffs as the 2 seed in the East and only made it to the second round. With Amar’e staying on the books making over $18 million/year and really only earning $3 million with his continuous knee issues and coming off the bench leaves the Knicks tight with money. With a new coach in Derek Fisher and the roster seeming to mold into a Phil Jackson type of roster, it doesn’t look to be such a welcome mat for Carmelo. Ultimately Melo would only settle for New York because of the max contract they offered him and nothing more. They won’t be competing for a championship anytime soon and for the goal to just make the playoffs is not in the mindset for Carmelo at this point in his career.
A team in the Eastern Conference that can instantly compete for championships with the arrival of Melo is Chicago regardless of where Lebron ends up. If Carmelo plays for the Bulls, he takes tremendous pressure off Rose on the offense end. He fits with the identity of the team and if they ever match up against Lebron, neither Anthony or Rose will need to guard him for the majority of minutes because the Bulls have a lockdown defender in Jimmy Butler. Although the Bulls aren’t able to offer Carmelo a max contract, they can compete for titles instantly and at age 30 and titleless, this would seem like a no brainer, but Carmelo seems to be taking his time with this decision.
The third team that is in contention for the all star is (of course) the Lakers. The front office expressed throughout the season that they weren’t planning to make any serious offers for Free Agents this off season, but as soon as Melo and James opted out, they started to get their books ready to make an offer. The Lakers are really the only team that can offer both Anthony and James the money they’re looking for. The problem is that they only have four players currently on their roster because most of their roster were signed to one year deals. So if both all stars decided to join Kobe, they would be on a very tight budget in filling up the roster. Which right now doesn’t seem very ideal for Lebron, but rumors have surfaced that if the two decided to join forces, they would agree to around $16 million/year each to leave cap space for more players. With Pau Gasol making it clear if the Lakers land either or both he would immediately return in a Lakers uniform, the front office is making strong pushes for the Free Agents. Even though the Lakers have rose has a top 3 for Carmelo, I only see him arriving WITH Lebron James seeing as how tough the Western Conference is, they would need to become a powerhouse and fast.
The team I see landing Carmelo is Chicago. Although Carmelo is seeing max contract offers, he’ll ultimately decide with championships over greed and New York just simply won’t get it done. Anthony has been quiet in what he’s looking for in teams and really just wants to see what he’s worth, and not just in the money category. Staying East is a priority in picking teams for the simple fact that it lacks depth. The Windy City is the move for Carmelo Anthony.

Where will LeBron land…

Just a few days ago LeBron James decided to opt out of his current contract with the Miami Heat and test free agency and like the sheep that follow the shepherd both Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh opted out as well. A lot of heat fans will see this as an indication that they will opt back in with new additions to the roster including more depth on their bench which they lacked in the finals. I’m not like a lot of people and will explain where I think the King ends up and why.
Prior to James’ decision to opt out, Pat Riley held a press conference and was faced with tough questions surrounding the big 3 and what’s next for them. When questions surfaced about LeBron and whether or not he would stay, Riley took the opportunity and was as honest as he could be. He seemed to be taking shots at James saying if he has the “guts” to work through their “minor tweaks” in the roster he’ll stay. He went on to say he’d be surprised if he “didn’t see Wade in a Miami Heat jersey next season.” Following the press conference the news hit that the big 3 made their move to opt out. I’m sure a fair amount of fans panicked and wanted to point the finger at Riley assuming he said the wrong things, but he didn’t. Riley said what he was supposed to in a desperate situation where there was clear indication that James wasn’t happy. It was no surprise LeBron wanted to test free agency. There’s no question LeBron is not getting all of what he’s worth, but that’s the sacrifice he took when coming to Miami with Bosh. Now at age 30 he has a real decision to make as this next contract will most likely be his last contract signing. So he needs to make the decision on whether to shop around and get his money’s worth or stay in his current situation and hope for the best.
It’s no secret that LeBron was flat out TIRED this season. He carried the entire load of the team while Bosh and Wade got paid as much and did much less. I’m sure LeBon’s frustration with this situation was a factor in his decision.
Another no brainer is that LeBron just flat out wasn’t happy this season. Wade was only featured in 54 games in the regular season and averaged an even 19 ppg (which is the fewest since LeBron took his talents to South Beach). With every year Wade stays in the league the question still remains whether or not his knees will hold up. With this year being one of his healthiest in the big 3 era and the Heat still stopped short of a championship, James has to be thinking how much Dwayne has left in the tank. As for Chris Bosh, well…….
He had a solid year defensively and personally I’m still skeptical about his offense mainly being around the 3 point line and him not being able to be physical and bang down low and that can hurt him on both ends. Duncan and Splitter had their way down low with no one down low for the Heat making them struggle. And with the pick up of Greg Oden being a total bust they really had no one to look to. Chris Andersen showed his age this year and didn’t give the Heat that spark off the bench they needed like last season.
When you look at Miami’s roster they have 7 players that are 32 or over. With really only two of those players truly contributing, Miami will have to do more than just some “minor tweaks.” Three of those players contributed absolutely nothing and are just on the bench to earn a ring. Mario Chalmers is asking for around $8 million/year in his new contract and his talents can surely be replaced next season. So his demand isn’t such a priority for the organization and with his poor performance is the finals, don’t expect Chalmers to be in a Heat uniform next season. The Heat will need to revamp the majority of their bench along with one or two starting positions and in a convincing matter if they want the King to return.
With the teams competing for James, the Heat faces the most pressure, especially since Riley made those comments in his press conference. If LeBron chooses to come back, Riley has to show his “guts” and make some changes to the roster.
When it all comes down to it, Miami may be in some trouble when it comes to convincing James. Of course Miami is an ideal destination for any player but playing alongside one of the greatest of all time makes it more enticing. But it’s a matter of finding the right players at the right price. Of course there is a possibility Carmelo can join the big 3 but that may make things extremely difficult for the 3 and 4 position when both LeBron and Carmelo play the same position. Even though one can play the 3 and the other the 4, that could minimize one’s talents because the 4 may need to focus down low more than out of the paint and that may not be ideal when you look at the finals and see how well the Spurs played in the paint.
When you look at all the factors I see Lebron James playing elsewhere and by elsewhere I mean back home, in Cleveland. I know that Cleveland has truly struggled since Lebron left but when they can offer Lebron more money and provide a young, talented team that needs a leader to carry them, Lebron fulfills what they need. They’ve had three number 1 overall picks since James left along with a number 4 draft pick. All with potential to be something special in the league and with the help of a true leader this team has the potential to make an instant run in a weak Eastern Conference. This team is a lot more talented than any of the teams Lebron was on when he was with the Cavs, especially the team he carried to the finals in 2007. Although James and owner Dan Gilbert didn’t part ways on the best of terms, I’m sure Gilbert will do whatever it takes to bring the King back home and place him in a Cavaliers uniform.
James also mentioned that it was a priority to try and stay in Miami but they are somewhat limited in what they can offer with the big 3 contracts being so large. As for Wade and Bosh opting out as well, I see their mindset being that if Lebron leaves, they deserve they should be paid as well, but I will agree with Riley and say I would be surprised if Wade isn’t back I’m a Heat uniform.
With Cleveland being a younger team with more potential to bring to the table, along with the ability to offer more money AND it being practically home for the king, it may just be enough to lure him back home. I don’t see Riley’s comments bothering James that much because James has done plenty for the Miami organization making four consecutive trips to the finals and winning two of them. Of course Houston is a contender but I just don’t see Lebron and Dwight working well together. Yes Howard is a big man with authority but his mental weakness could irritate James and it seems like Howard only competes well when he believes he’s the best player on the court. The Lakers are another contender with cap space but I only see James landing there if Carmelo joins and with those two playing alongside Kobe is tough to see as well.


Game 2 and NBA Finals Predictions

Unfortunately I missed my window to post my winner for the finals before game 1 but I’m gonna do it anyway! Before I get into all that I will talk about game 1 and Lebron’s cramping and the A/C breaking in of all games a final.
I know that a lot of Heat fans are not gonna like the way I go about this, but as far as the air conditioning breaking, it happens, it was out of the players control and since the refs decided to continue to play through it, the players had to deal with it. As an athlete, I’ve played in conditions SIMILAR to the ones played in game 1. When you play tennis outdoors in around 90 degree weather where the court adds another 10-15 degrees, I understand the struggle the players went through but when you deal with that heat in “closed doors” it makes the air very thick and difficult to breathe in, so I can imagine what the conditions were like.
I listened to Lebron say he was doing his best to stay hydrated but when he plays as many minutes as he does, it’s difficult to keep your body as hydrated as it needs to be especially with James being as physical of a player as he is. Another thing to consider is how does the most physically fit athlete in our time be the ONLY player to not last time entire game and the only player to cramp. If you watched his press conference the next day he looked as though he got all of 15 minutes of sleep that night. I know a lot of people are expecting Lebron to be 100 percent but if Spoelstra was smart, he would watch James’ minutes. If anyone has experienced a cramp through competition, it’s not just the cramping that hurts but the next couple of days when your body is extremely sore and muscles are still recovering.
Depending on Lebron body physically will determine the outcome of game 2. The Heat usually come back with a huge blow after a loss in the playoffs but this is a different Spurs team from last year and know what is at stake in this finals. They know this may be their last run at a title for a while as age continues to creep up for Duncan, Parker, and Manu.
The Spurs have more depth in their roster than last year and a few of the returning players have gotten better as well. Kawhi Leonard has risen his game especially on the offensive end. Tony Parker seems to be healthier this time around after he was able to penetrate his way into the paint like his usual self and Tiago Splitter has become more effective in the paint and well, what is there bad to say about Tim Duncan.
From top to bottom I like the Spurs match ups against the Heat, they can compete with them when Lebron is on the floor and they pose a better threat when it comes to bench play. The only offensive threat off the bench for the Heat right now is Ray Allen. The Spurs have Manu, Boris and Mills along with Belinelli who can spot up and shoot from anywhere on the floor. I know I come off a little bias towards the Spurs but when you look at last years finals when they were literally one free throw, one three pointer, one rebound away from taking it and now with home court advantage you have to like their odds.
Another factor I consider is the Spurs had a tougher road down to the finals so they’ve been tested every series which makes their A game come to perfection. The Heat on the other hand, haven’t truly been tested so they may be a bit off of their A game, but one trait the Heat own is that they have an “on and off switch” so when they feel the need, they can turn on their A game because they carry so much talent, but will it be enough this time around? I like the Spurs odds so I’m picking them to get this done in 6.


French Open Predictions

With the French Open being right around the corner and the draw fresh out, I’ll share my predictions and favorite to win it all on my men’s side. 8-time champion Rafael Nadal has regained the top seed this year after winning to title last year as a 3 seed but being the top seed may be just putting a bigger target on Rafa as he may have one of toughest draws as one of the top 4 seeds.
Potential opponents for Rafa include Nicolas Almagro, a fellow Spaniard and tremendous player on the clay when it comes to his heavy topspin ground strokes on both ends. Tommy Haas, who is not exactly known for his clay specialities but after finding a rebirth in his game, he is capable of upsetting ANYONE on any surface. Grigor Dimitrov, a player who has plenty of potential just waiting to explode, not sure if Roland Garros is the place where that will start but is definitely a player to keep eyes on. David Ferrer, another Spaniard whom Rafa met in the final last year is still looking for a grand slam title on his way out (whenever that may be) and with his grit and being the ultimate grinder that he is, the French may be his only hope.
The biggest threat in Rafa’s side of the draw is Stan the man (Stanlas Wawrinka). Stan is another player full of potential and was a player urging to own a grand slam and that urge was finally met when he was able to grab the Australian Open title to start off the year. Needless to say, Stan is looking to grab more titles this year as his ceiling rises and although he defeated a wounded Rafa in the final at Melbourne, that title was well earned, but expect Rafa to seek revenge if they match up in the semis especially in “Rafa’s house” at the French Open. Stan does not have a “cake walk” to Rafa as he may have to face Andy Murray and Gael Monfils. There are usually high expectations for Murray but since coming off his back surgery, he has been all of streaky with his results, so spectators are not quite sure what to expect from him but if healthy, expect good things.
The bottom half the draw is led by 2 seed Novak Djokovic and although he may be a favorite to make it to the finals by most, let’s just press the pause button here and look at the draw. Two names that automatically stick out and should are hometown favorite Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and arguably one of the greatest players tennis has even seen in Roger Federer. Now of lately, Jo has been another streaky players this year but playing in front of his home fans may help turn things around for the Frenchmen. It doesn’t take a tennis expert to see that Fed is past his prime, but that doesn’t mean he is past being a threat to other big names on tour and is desperate to prove he’s still capable of winning grand slams at 32. Now although physically, Roger can hang and beat the best, mentally he may not be there after his wife just gave birth to another set of twins, Fed wasn’t sure if he would even enter the French if the due date was close to the start of the tournament. So that may be a factor for Fed heading into Roland Garros.
As far as my favorite to win it all, it’s difficult not to pick the man that’s claimed the title 8 times. Although Rafa may be tested throughout the entire draw, that may be more good than bad. To be tested throughout and bringing the “A game” out every time may better than sleeping on opponents which can lead to possible upsets. So, my pick to win this years French Open is Rafael Nadal.
Please make sure to comment or tweet me about this and other blog posts. @mylehigh614
If you want to see what the full draw and others draws click here


Kevin Love Trade

Well, now that Kevin Love’s season has ended with the Timberwolves, so may his career with them. With more rumors beginning to surface, five teams have stated interest: Warriors, Bulls, Lakers, Knicks and Suns. Now, although Love has done everything but demand a trade from his club, they may be forced to trade Love if they look to benefit from his departure at all.
Rumors are swirling that Love’s top two destinations are with the Bulls and Warriors – both of which could become instant contenders for a championship with the arrival of Love. But are the teams truly ideal for the 3-time All Star? Chicago seems to fit well with Love as it is a big city awaiting big help. Love could take pressure off Derrick Rose on the offensive side and his ability to rebound and dictate the paint go perfectly with the Bulls. The problems begin when we talk about cap space. The Bulls don’t have the immediate space needed for Love to arrive and will need to make room. But what all are they willing to give up? Are the Bulls ready to give up a future All-Star in Taj Gibson and move past the questionable overpaid Carlos Boozer? And then lose draft picks as well? That’s the same issue when looking for the move with Carmelo who may be a better gamble being a veteran and carrying more scrappiness to the court that better fits the Chicago identity.
Looking at Golden State, the duo of Love and Curry would draw immediate attention and the “pick and pop” offense is what Curry is all about when it comes to scoring. Now having cap space isn’t a problem for the Warriors but they would need to make moves in order for Love to land in Golden State. Placing David Lee on the trade block may be acceptable for the average Golden State fan but adding Klay Thompson as well may not. Will a Thompson addition make fans cringe if that means splitting up the Splash Brothers? Love fans have been curious to see how he works in the triangle offense and with Steve Kerr in the coaching position – it may be a closer to draw in Kevin Love.
Phoenix definitely needs help down low to go with the NBA’s Most Improved Goran Dragic and star Eric Bledsoe. But are the Suns a realistic landing spot for the All-Star? What do they have to offer Minnesota in return to make a fair or even trade? I don’t see the Suns being a serious contender when they don’t have much to offer in a trade. Now, even though New York is a big city, which may be a factor in Love’s eyes, the Knicks are going through an identity crisis. Melo’s doubts regarding Phil Jackson running basketball operations, requesting him to take less money, and Melo ready to test Free Agency makes it seem as though he won’t be wearing a Knicks jersey in 2015 – this can’t be what Love wants to hear.
Now an ideal landing for Love, and my favorite option of them all, are the LA Lakers. Now I know they are having an identity crisis and are missing a head coach as well but Los Angeles is a big city with a big stage and Love has some ties in LA. He went to school at UCLA and was born in Santa Monica. The latter of which could be considered a pro or com. Going back home may not be ideal for Love when selecting a destination, but as an athlete and a competitor, nothing compares when playing for your city and that’s what Buss and Kupchak have to sell if they want the All-Star. That’s been an issue for Laker Nation lately as WE have begun to lose trust in the front office and as they seem to not be interested in the opinion of the 5 time champion who they paid $48.5 million (Kobe Bryant) when it comes to the coach search. They are also not keen on Bryant’s idea to compete for championship now rather than wait and rebuild. But this may be an opportunity the Lakers can’t afford to waste. The Lakers have a lottery draft pick and are willing to shop it and have a number of role players on the roster that can afford to go to the trade block. The one area where the Lakers need to improve is to find a Point Guard and one that will go with Love’s game. Regardless of what pick they get in this draft they need to obtain a young PG and let the veteran Steve Nash take him under his wing. Before all this takes place, the Lakers need to find a coach before the draft…and soon. They seem to be taking their time with this “rebuilding process” and fans are getting impatient as the only signs (literally) that are being shown are the #stayswag billboards in regards to Nick Young resigning with the Lakers for a long term contract. But, like Bryant, that’s not all Laker Nation wants to see or hear. Putting being a Laker fan aside, Los Angeles has the best destination for Kevin Love and should land him in a Lakers jersey. They just need to approach the All-Star the right way and make the best trade offer. Out of the five teams they have the most to gain and like mentioned before, this is an opportunity they can’t afford to miss.


NBA Playoff Predictions

With the NBA playoffs right around the corner, I’ll discuss my predictions, upsets, and favorites. 

Starting with the Western Conference, the Spurs come out with another strong regular season and will come into the playoffs with the number 1 overall seed. It’s obvious that they will be the clear favorite to come out of the West, but as the Spurs continue to age, injuries will rise, I have to wonder how how far Popovich’s system will carry an aged Spurs.

The Thunder hold the two seed in the West and will be another favorite to most especially being carried by a strong MVP candidate in Kevin Durant. Although Durant is coming off one of his best regular season’s yet, you have to wonder which Durant will show, especially after his performance last year in the Western Conference Finals without Russell Westbrook. With his sidekick Westbrook coming off his third knee surgery, he has to been missing back to back games. Even though the playoffs are not played in back to nights, one word that comes to mind during the playoffs is PHYSICAL and I have to question how physical Russell Westbrook can be with a suspect knee. 

On to the third seed and my favorite to come out of the West, the Los Angeles Clippers. Although I am a Lakers fan at heart, I must admit that the Clippers are playing some ball! One word that comes to mind with this team is that they are DEEP. With guys like Granger, Davis, Crawford, and Collison coming off the bench, this team can battle with any team from the bench to the starters. They have come out of the All-Star Break with one of the best records in the league and Blake Griffin has played into being placed an MVP candidate in my opinion. I truly believe he is losing the “soft guy” image and has become extremely physical in the post which is exactly what a lot of analysts like Charles Barkley wanted to see. If you don’t believe that he has become more physical and just all out aggressive, explain why he didn’t play in the last regular season game? With a veteran coach like Doc Rivers (whose credentials speak for them-self) I expect this team to do well in the playoffs. One thing I give Rivers credit for is allowing this squad to still maintain their “Lob-City” style of play and mesh it with his coaching style. 

A good first round matchup in the West will be the Rockets as they take on the Trail Blazers. A lot of people wanted to jump on the Trail Blazers’ bandwagon when they came out the gates running in the start of the season but throughout the season, with a weak bench they (what I like to refer to as) “came back to reality” and “woke up”. Although I’m a fan of the Lilliard and Aldridge duo, I don’t see the duo taking them far with a beyond strong Western Conference. The Rockets look to still be trying to put all their pieces together and to get them all to work. Although it is clear that Harden is their Alpha, it is hard to stand behind him without consistent strong performances in the playoffs. With his huge disappearance in the 2012 Finals, the Rockets will have to stand behind an unpredictable Harden and Howard. My favorite in this matchup is the Trail Blazers in 6. 

Moving into the Eastern Conference, the Pacers were able to get themselves together, well for the moment and regain the first seed but will it pay off? With a struggling Paul George and a lost Roy Hibbert, you have to wonder where that will take the Pacers. With players like Hibbert calling out teammates for being “selfish” it is clear there are some problems in the locker room and with many speculation with it having to do with the trade of Danny Granger (which I believe will pay off in the long run), I wonder if the teammates will be willing to put their swords down in order to compete for a ring. The team is also still waiting for Evan Turner to come out of his shell and do what they need him to do and carry the bench. 

The second seed is the reigning champs, the Miami Heat. The Heat are clearly the most talented team in the NBA but are not my clear favorites to win it all and have a couple caution flags in my book. Lebron James is not the Lebron James many are used to seeing this season. He was only able to grab one triple double this year is which is 3 less than what he was able to get last season (4). With several signs fatigue in James this season, I wonder how much gas Lebron has in the tank entering the playoffs, but being as superhuman as he is, I’m sure the gas tank never runs empty for James. James isn’t my only concern though, Dwayne Wade only appeared in 54 games this regular season and with the continuing hamstring and knee injuries, I worry Lebron’s Robin may come up missing this playoffs. 

The only other team worth talking about in the East in my opinion is the Brooklyn Nets and for the simple reason that they can give the Miami Heat problems as a potential second round matchup. The Nets swept the Heat in the regular season and can cause problems offensively in the point guard position with Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston and are difficult to defend wlth as many shooters as they have on their team in Pierce, Thorton, Anderson and Johnson. The Nets should not be a team that is slept on, especially by the Miami Heat.

As far as my favorite coming out of the East, I will take my gamble and pick the Indiana Pacers. I’m a Paul George fan and believe he can bring back the talent he had last year in the playoffs against the Heat. The only concern I still will have is for Hibbert, his size brings difficulty to many teams standing at 7’2″ but has really struggled finishing inside along with simply getting boards.

I will save another post for the Finals and a final prediction for that as well. Thanks for reading! Remember to find me on Twitter @mylehigh614 and hashtag #MOS for my blog.