BATTLE FOR THE O`BRIEN BEGINS

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Arguably the Holy Grail of all Basketball, the NBA’s Larry O`Brien Trophy is once again up for grabs in this years Playoffs

Last year much to my dismay the Miami Heat won it’s 2nd NBA Title against the overmatched and yet hungry Oklahoma City Thunder, the franchise’s 1st title since 2006 and first under the Big 3 era that is led by reigning league MVP Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The Heat also entered the 2012-2013 season as the favorites to repeat as World Champs, during the free agency period the Heat reloaded by adding sharpshooters Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. While that on the other hand in Chicago things looked a little bleak as their star point guard and former league MVP Derrick Rose will be sidelined indefinitely (as of “press time” there is no news yet if DRose will play in the Playoffs), in Oklahoma City, the team traded shooting guard James Harden who is a former 6th man of the year to Houston for the underrated Kevin Martin. While the whole teams tried to strengthen their line up for a chance to capture an NBA Title the Los Angeles Lakers perhaps made the biggest noise of all by signing Steve Nash and acquiring Dwight Howard via trade. Assumptions of a new Laker Dynasty was foiled as the Lakers limped their way to the Playoffs, as they struggled with coaching change and chemistry, now they look to win their 17th NBA Championship without their leader Kobe Bryant.

While the season passes a lot of surprises and twists happened, the once hapless Knicks had a resurgence as Carmelo Anthony became the leader of the team while Amare Stoudemire accepted the role of super sub, and JR Smith had a resurgence. In Milwaukee the Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis offensive project worked, and Larry Sanders proved to be one of the biggest surprise as the leader of the Bucks D. As always San Antonio was once again counted out but Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, who at one point a candidate for league MVP showed flashes of their youth as they led the Spurs to the 2nd seed in the Western Conference. Golden State raised a lot of eyebrows when they started playing better D this year, much of the credit goes to sophomore coach Mark Jackson who transformed this once laughing stock of a team to a dark horse ready to pounce on every opponent they face. In Hoosier Country, the Indiana Pacers saw their franchise player Danny Granger succumb to injuries, but an emerging young star picked up the ball and ran with it, Paul George had a tremendous season that earned him an All-Star nod. In the Windy City, the Chicago Bulls surprised a lot of people by retaining their competitiveness despite the absence of their star point guard Derrick Rose, even after the rought and hectic Olympic schedule the emergence of Loul Deng of the Sudan but played for Britain in the 2012 Olympics and Joackim Noah who played for France helped the Bulls season, honorable mention goes to Carlos Boozer who is slowly becoming the player he once was in Utah, big ups for Nate Robinson, Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler as well. The other Los Angeles team which was nicknamed Lob City proved to be both effective and exciting as Blake Griffin and Chris Paul together with DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford helped the team to make its 2nd straight Playoff appearance, no one is making fun of the Clippers this time. The Boston Celtics may have suffered a setback after losing their young and talented point guard Rajon Rondo because of an ACL injury, but kept on competing led by Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. Brooklyn Nets’ first season in Brooklyn was a success as they will make their first post-season appearance after the Jason Kidd era (that was when the Nets where in East Rutherford, New Jersey), the team had a surprise performance from the ever improving Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson (who they acquired via trade from the Atlanta Hawks) and Deron Williams. The Atlanta Hawks kept it together, even with the trade rumors lingering in his head Josh Smith relished in the role of leader after Johnson left the City. The Memphis Grizzlies will now rely more on smash mouth  basketball as they traded young stud Rudy Gay for defensive specialist Tayshaun Prince, expect them to be very very physical as Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol lead the Grizzlies attack. The Los Angeles Lakers limped throughout the season, but managed to make it to the playoffs despite losing Kobe Bryant before their last game of the season (out for 6 to 9 months torn Achilles Tendon), Paul Gasol and Dwight Howard must now step up and lead them back to the promise land. The Denver Nuggets will enter the playoffs without their leading scorer in Danilo Gallinari but with the resurgence of Wilson Chandler, and a balanced attack led by Ty Lawson and Andre Igoudala the Mile High City will always be smiling. The Houston Rockets found a gem after getting former OKC guard James Harden, Harden emerged as the King Rocket, as he led the team in scoring, while Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons provided much needed help in this balance Rocket attack.

I pretty much said what I think of every Playoff team competing in this years Playoffs, I believe that this is going to be exciting, and unpredictable and I expect upsets and disappointments as well. With that here is the bracket of the NBA Playoffs 2013.

printable-nba-playoff-bracket-2013

My first Rd predictions?

OKC over Houston in 6 (though expect an upset!), Memphis over LA Clippers in 6, San Antonio over LA Lakers in 7, Denver over Golden State in 7.

Miami over Milwaukee in 5, Chicago over Brooklyn in 6, Boston over NY in 7, Indiana over Atlanta in 6.

With that I bid you guys farewell for now. SEE RED!!! GO BULLS!!!

Pictures taken from Bleacher Report and EveryJoe.com

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