Tuesday, January 10, 2006

NBA Finals 2006 - Pistons/Suns?

Yes, this is a prediction.

The Pistons are the obvious pick in the Eastern Conference. Unless Ron Artest is playing and Indiana is playing well together, Miami is the only competition for the Eastern Crown (Cleveland is not up to that level yet). However, Detroit looks much better this year with the same core back and Flip Saunders at the helm, and Shaq is a year older. I like Detroit in the East.

Phoenix, however, may be a little bit of surprise. But consider that they are 22-12 after tonights Triple OT loss, which is good for 4th in the West, a half game behind Memphis. And this is without possibly their best player and most explosive scorer, Amare Stoudemire. With Stoudemire in the lineup, this Suns team is better than last year's team that had the best record in the Western Conference during the regular season.

How can this be, since they lost Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson? Well, they still have MVP Steve Nash, Shawn Marion, and Mike D'Antoni. But the real difference is that they are playing better defense and they have more depth, copmpared to last year when their bench was Jim Jackson and Leandro Barbosa. According to John Hollinger, Phoenix has second most efficient defense in the NBA. Let's look at their new players:

Boris Diaw - the Most Improved Player in the NBA, and maybe one of the most complete. He's 5th on the team in scoring at over 11 a game, he 3rd on the team in rebounding with about 7 a game, and he's 2nd in assists with about 6 a game. And he is solid defensively. To top it off, he can really play all 5 positions on the court (not at once)

Raja Bell/James Jones - similar players in that they can shoot the ball well and play a little defense. Excellent role players.

Kurt Thomas - excellent rebounder and post defender, even if he's not of an ideal height. Adds toughness inside.

Eddie House - averages almost 11 points per in only 18 minutes a game. Also allows for the Suns to rest Nash for.

Adding these key pieces to the best PG in the NBA, a All-Star forward, and one of the best coaches makes this team very dangerous... even without Amare Stoudemire.

Another factor working in the Suns favor is that if they win their division they will be a 2 seed in the West due to the top 3 teams right now playing in the same division. They are extremely tough at home, as evidenced by their 13-6 home mark this year.

If Amare Stoudemire can come back to a level that is anywhere close to what he played at last year, look out, because there is no one that would want to face these guys, including the Spurs. They play a unique style, they have a great blend of stars and role players, and they have a coach who knows how to use his players well. This makes them my pick to make the NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons.