by Nick Colecchio
On Oct. 28 the San Antonio Spurs got their rings and raised yet another banner in the rafters, signifying that the 2014-15 NBA season is officially under way. With a new season comes a new chapter to be written in NBA history. Which means which team will underperform? Who will be the next team to come up and stun the basketball world? Will aging super star Kobe Bryant have anything thing left in the tank or is the ride over? And can the champions stay healthy, stick together, and win another ring? These are the questions that will be answered as the season rolls along.
In the Eastern Conference you have the return of LeBron James to his home and his first team in the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron left his hometown team in 2010 after another disappointing end in the playoffs. As we all know the breakup was ugly as the star and his home city of Cleveland couldn’t come to terms with the separation. Ultimately LeBron went down to Miami and won two rings, but he couldn’t resist another shot at giving his city a championship for the first time in 50 years. With the Cavs LeBron has positioned himself to compete for another ring this year, as he has formed the new “big 3” in himself, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. The Cavs are favored to win the East, as it is the weaker of the two conferences. The Miami Heat will stay relevant with Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. There are up and coming teams in Washington and Charlotte who are loaded with young talent. The biggest test for the Cavaliers will come from the tough and playoff ridden Chicago Bulls. With Derrick Rose back healthy and with the addition to Pau Gasol to an already impressive supporting cast, the Bulls look to take aim at the Larry O Brien trophy in June. With these pieces the Bulls are adding more offense to the already best defensive team in the league who liked to get after the ball. Everybody is projecting a Cavaliers and Bulls Eastern Conference Finals, and what a matchup it would be.
In the Western Conference it is always a more difficult road to get to the finals than it is in the East. The reigning champions, San Antonio Spurs, are favored to come out of the rugged conference, if they stay healthy. There are hungry contenders in the Los Angeles Clippers looming in the background. After a change in ownership after the Donald Sterling fiasco, the Clippers look to refocus and get back to playing basketball. Since the arrival of Chris Paul in the summer of 2011, the Clippers have been one of the most exciting teams to watch. With this exciting style the playoff experience hasn’t gotten on course yet. For years the Clippers have been the second team in LA behind the legendary Laker franchise. With the Lakers in a rebuilding mode the Clippers look to capture the hearts of the fans in Los Angeles. In the West there are also playoff regular Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks who are a threat to the Spurs as well. The interesting part of this conference comes from the back of the playoff picture with the Phoenix Suns and the Sacramento Kings. The Suns have a talented young nucleus that won 49 games last year and missed the playoffs by one game. This offseason they re- signed young stud Eric Bledsoe and added veteran scoring machine Isiah Thomas to come off the bench. The Suns are looking to make the playoffs for the first time in five seasons. The Sacramento Kings are the real surprise of this young season getting off to a 3-1 start. Built around young star big man in Demarcus Cousins the Kings are starting to show light of the end of the very long playoff drought tunnel for this franchise.