Timeout!: Nov. 6
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. I’m not talking about the holidays (I hate shopping, Christmas or otherwise). No sir, this time of year is great for sport fans. There is or there shortly will be something for everyone. The return of the NBA is at the very top of my own list (keep reading and I’ll give you my prediction), but every sport fan is being served.
The World Series just capped off another year for MLB, with the Boston Red Sox winning the championship – this comes after the Sox had a disaster of a season last year.
College football is going strong now with big match-ups taking place every weekend. And we can all celebrate the demise of the BCS with this being the last year; next year the four-team playoff begins. That will give us something new to complain about. The disappointing season of the team in Fayetteville has put a damper on some of the state’s college football fans. But like the rest of the teams in Arkansas, they’re hopeful for a strong finish. It makes me wish that we had a team of our own here.
The NFL season just hit its halfway point and though there are several teams that are and have been favorites, there are just as many surprise teams. The key to the NFL season seems to be to make the playoffs and then play your best football on your way to the championship. We’ll just see who follows the formula this season.
College basketball is starting to ramp up. The typical year for me involves following the college game only casually until March Madness (the NCAA Tournament). But there is a buzz right here on our own campus with the UALR men and women’s squads. Both teams return a good mix of experience and newcomers. The women have even been picked by the SBC coaches to win the conference in a recent preseason poll.
And though I don’t follow it personally, the NHL season is also going on. Hockey fans may be few in ratings numbers, but they are among the most passionate in any sport.
Yes, there is something for every sports fan right now, but like Kurtis Blow said or sang: Basketball is my favorite sport. I love this game. It is amazing, it is BIG or whatever the latest campaign is for the NBA. The fact is I can watch any game, be it the Heat vs. Bulls or a battle of bottom-feeders like Celtics vs. Suns.
I’ve held off for about as long as I can, so finally here are my predictions for this season:
In the Western Conference the San Antonio Spurs will battle the L.A.Clippers for conference supremacy. The addition of Doc Rivers as the Clippers new coach may be just enough to tip the scales in their favor.The old veterans of the Spurs will have to remain healthy for them to achieve the championship goal that alluded them by mere seconds last season.
The Clippers will only go as far as Chris Paul can take them on the court. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan still need to continue their on-court development and become more than just dunkers.
A few other intriguing teams are the Golden State Warriors, the Houston Rockets, and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Warriors are one of the most fun teams to watch and they now have one of the better one on one defenders in Andre Iguodala. The Rockets welcome Laker runaway Dwight Howard, who will team with James Harden for a potentially deadly inside/outside attack. The Thunder start the season without Russell Westbrook; how well they do as a team will depend on how fast he and Kevin Durant can find balance between them this season when he returns.
The teams battling for the final playoff spots will be the Memphis Grizzlies, the Denver Nuggets, and the L.A. Lakers. The Grizzlies will try to continue the Grindhouse tradition that had them making the playoffs last season, but also had them firing their head coach. The Nuggets also fired their coach last season and lost Iguodala in the off-season. The Lakers will be trying to stay afloat early on until Kobe Bryant returns from a torn ACL.
In the Eastern Conference, the defending champion Miami Heat will be challenged by the Indiana Pacers, the Chicago Bulls, and the Brooklyn Nets. The Heat will be attempting to three-peat while keeping everyone motivated and healthy. The Pacers took the Heat to a Game 7 in the Eastern Finals last season and want to finish them off this year. The Bulls have Derrick Rose back after he missed the entire 2012-2013 season with an ACL injury. The Nets have the largest payroll in the league with the addition of veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
The rest of the probable playoff teams in the East are the New York Knicks, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Toronto Raptors and possibly the Washington Wizards. The Knicks are already facing Carmelo’s impending free agency. The Cavaliers hope to keep Kyrie Irving healthy this season. The same goes for the Wizards John Wall. The Raptors will have a full season of Rudy Gay. The teams at the bottom of the East seem to be the weakest in the league once again, but the teams at the top are among the best.
My prediction? The Miami Heat will win their third title in a row in an entertaining series against the L.A. Clippers. Sorry anti-LeBron fans.