Yay, the reign of Boston tyranny in the sports world is OVER! Now the focus is on the NBA. Had the Patriots won the Super Bowl, all the talk would be about whether the Celtics could win the championship and complete a trifecta that has only been done in New York in 1973. But now that that dream is dead, we can focus on who the REAL contenders are.
In the eastern conference, there are only two teams that have the type of talent necessary to get to the championship round. With all due respect to the Orlando Magic, who will not go down easy in the playoffs, the safe money is on a Celtics-Pistons confrontation in the eastern conference finals. The Celtics have proven as of late that they are far from invincible. The dynamic of a 7 game playoff series in the NBA is a chess match that is unrivaled in any other mainstream sport. I don't like the Celtics' chances in a 7 game series against an experienced and defensive minded Pistons team. Detroit is going back to the Finals.
The western conference playoffs could be the most competitive playoff bracket in recent sports memory. All 8 teams that qualify will be good enough to make it to the NBA Finals and the series will likely be long and hard fought. But so many of the contenders have weaknesses. San Antonio is getting old and predictable and someone will likely have the energy to beat them. Dallas has proven that they'll go down to a team that's at the top of its game. Phoenix is a perreneal regular season juggernaut and postseason underachiever. New Orleans has a lot of talent but doesn't know how to win yet. Denver doesn't have their heads in the right place to win. Utah is just not good enough to get over the hump. Golden State can only ride its chaotic style so far. The big move that Jerry Buss made looks like it will be good enough to get the Lakers out of the western conference. I just don't think any of the other teams will have an answer to so much offense and size, not to mention the greatest coach in sports history with talent to work with.
So that leaves the Pistons and the Lakers to compete for the gold. I think Boston is highly overrated and beating them is not in the same league as surviving the western conference bracket. Phil Jackson lost to the Pistons once; he's too smart to lose to them a second time. It's Kobe Bryant's time now. When the dust clears in June, he'll be holding the Finals MVP trophy (which in my humble opinion should be officially named the Michael Jordan trophy after its record breaking 6-time winner), and Phil Jackson's 10th finger will no longer feel naked.
Lakers over the Pistons in 5 games