Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Will the Boston Celtics repeat?

Once again, the Boston Celtics look to be one of the best teams in the NBA, and possess a very legitimate chance to repeat as World Champions and win their 18th title. They will be very legitimate contenders, as they returned almost all of the pieces from their championship run a year ago.

However, the path to the title appears to be a little tougher this year than it was last year. For one thing, there are more legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference. The Cleveland Cavaliers took Boston to 7 games in the Eastern Conference Finals a year ago, and they appear to be even stronger this year. With the addition of Mo Williams and the continued maturation of LeBron James (he has become, almost unquestionably, the best and most complete player in the NBA), the Cavs will be a very tough out. Joining the Celtics and Cavs this year is the Orlando Magic, who are playing as good of basketball as anyone right now. With superstar Dwight Howard down low and a bevy of shooters around him, the Magic have the firepower and tenacity to beat anyone in a 7-game series.

Out of the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers appear even stronger this year than they were last year, when they battled the Celtics in the Finals. This is due to a number of reasons. One, the health of Andrew Bynum. He was hurt last year and missed the Finals, but having him back gives them another low post presence, as well as helping their depth, as it allows Lamar Odom to come off of the bench. Two, having Pau Gasol for a full year helps with chemisty. The triangle offense is all about knowing what the players around you are going to do, and so having that extra experience playing with Gasol helps. Third, the continued maturation of the young guys. Players like Jordan Farmar and Trevor Ariza are very valuable role players, and the extra experience will only help them. The Lakers will be prime time contenders.

That said, the Celtics cupboard certainly isn't bare. Kevin Garnett is still the premier defender in the NBA, Ray Allen still has the quickest release in the NBA, and Paul Pierce has established himself as a superstar. Plus, the Celtics are a veteran crew who have proven that they know how to get it done in crunch time, and will not be afraid to answer the bell again in the postseason.

But while Boston will certainly have a great shot, I wouldn't bet that they will repeat and win another NBA championship. Bottom line, there are simply too many other great teams out there, from Cleveland and Orlando in the East to Los Angeles in the West, I'd rather bet on the field than picking the Celtics to repeat.

I originally wrote this article here.