I will apologize for my absence. It took me a little while to recover from the end of the post season. I found that I was irrationally irritable and had developed a violent visceral response to anything that had black and white stripes. Still working with my therapist to figure that one out. It's a mystery to me why whenever I see a picture of a Zebra I want to kick something.
I am tempering my optimism for this coming season. Miami is clearly improved. Chicago is still a match up problem as is Atlanta. LA is still LA, which causes me pain to acknowledge. And the Thunder are only getting better.
So it is with all that in mind that I present to you my prediction for the season. I recognize that I'm a Homer so I started with what I thought in my gut was going to happen and took a step back from there. Realized I was probably still a little bit over-optimistic, and took another step back. Hopefully this will you will at least find this entertaining if you don't find it interesting.
The first game is an important one. It sets a tone in a way that no other game does. The first game is the first opportunity for each team to remain undefeated. The first game will be a challenge. Possibly the single most difficult game of the year. There will be the buzz leading in, the new super team of Miami impacting the Boston Celtics (a.k.a. The Greatest Franchise in the history of Competitive Sports).
D-wade, Lebron, Bosh, and the collected host of Heat players will march onto the hardwood like a concurring army. Proud, confident, ready to show the world through Boston's suffering that they are the best that is, and will be remembered as the best that's ever been. Every aspect of the pregame will reflect the excitement and electricity of this match up. Including the rivalry that has grown to exist between Lebron James and the Celtics. It will be pointed out that the Heat remain without a true center. That their point play will be a weakness. But all will be discarded behind the gushing praise of the talents of Lebron and Wade. The pairing of superheroes like a Justice League. Miami already had The Flash, and now their championship aspirations hinge on Lebron being able to be Superman, or at least Aquaman.
Finally, after agonizing hours of comentary and highlights (inumerable clips of superstar plays from Lebron or Wade hitting impossible shots or electrifying dunks against the Celtics, in games which they ultimately lost) the game will begin. The arena will be silent. Like a hush falling over a battle field immediately before gunshots fill the air with deafening fire. The soldiers in green will take their positions against their red jerseyed foes. Percules will scowl from the sideline (in a very nice suit), frustrated beyond what words could explain that some other player stood in his rightful place for tipoff. As the seconds tick down to Tip-off Perkins scowl will grow fiercer, the only remaining outlet for the chaotic rage contained in his soul.
The ball will go up and Boston's height advantage will be immediately apparent. The ball will be deflected towards the usually steady and patient hands of Ray "I'm so good I don't need a nickname" Allen. But it will bounce just off a fingertip in bizarre and horrible fashion. D-Wade will pounce without hesitation, collecting the ball and starting the break. And the entirety of Celtic nation will feel the pain of sinking hearts as Wade screams down the court. He will kick a pass to Lebron James, Superman, The King, The Finisher. He will slide deftly around KG's best effort at slowing him and leap towards the basket. He'll levitate through the air, carried by his own pride and incredible joy. This was the moment. The instant where he shows the world and the skeptics that he is indeed the greatest. The punctuation mark on the sentence "I am the superhero, not the sidekick."
And in that instant when Celtics fans resigned themselves to another season of frustration, Shaq's mighty hand will intercede. With two fingers he will flick the ball from Lebron's grip into the waiting hands of KG, thus recording the first official Russell of the season (A Russell is the official stat for a block that goes to a teammate instead of going out of bounds). KG will fling a pass to Ray, already waiting on his spot. Ray will release a rainbow of a 3, so pure in its arc that the net is hardly disturbed as the ball passes through.
Lebron will look on in frustration. Shaq will console him first with a chuckle and then a pat on the back saying, "Come on man, you remember my favorite part of a block is watching the hope leave their eyes."
Lebron will demand the ball from Wade with his eyes as they set up their inbounds. Wade will oblige, he's the classy kind of teammate that will try to lift up a guy when his confidence has been affected. This time Lebron knows what to do, exploit Shaq's greatest weakness (second greatest if you account for free throws), they set up a pick and roll. But with a careful and clever twist. They position to prevent KG from being able to help. Lebron will get a completely free lane to the basket. Leap a second time. Launched off the ground by his own fury. And before his rage can convert into satisfaction, Percules will unleash the full power of his infamous scowl and reveal on television just what horrors his self control had previously been capable of containing. The scowl will travel, disembodied across the arena, searing through the air like a flaming arrow. Sending the ball sailing from Lebron's hands, fortunately for Lebron he had the ball high enough of above his head that he was not decapitated in the process. Rondo will receive the rebound this time and bounce a pass cross court to the Captain, waiting patiently to release his own 3.
Perkins will later be the first player in NBA history to record a double double (Russells and Assists) without logging any minutes in game.
Now, down 6, with only 8 seconds of game clock ticked by, Lebron will feel his frustration turn to sorrow. And Wade will step in, prepared to do his job as team Captain of the Heat. "It's all right man, we're still gonna win this. We're the super team remember? Justice League, this year is gonna be so awesome. Only way we can get beat is if we let them beat us. We won a gold medal. We have contracts with Nike and Gatorade and stuff. We're the best team the NBA has ever seen."
Lebron will nod his head "You're totally right man, I don't know what got into me, thanks dude, you're all class."
Two minutes of game time later Miami will call their first time out, now down by 26 without having taken a shot they will call for a change of offensive plan. And subsequent offense will run solely through D-Wade. The chants of "Side-Kick, Side-Kick, Side-Kick" will echo through the arena whenever Lebron touches the ball, because Celtics fans are nice, forgiving, and classy like that. Miami will manage to score 8 points in the first quarter, all free throws from Wade because of an unknown sub-clause to a rule in the NBA that guarding D-Wade closely constitutes a foul, even if you don't touch him or the ball. Kobe has the same thing, you guys remember.
The second quarter will be even more painful to watch than the first. The Heat will fail to register a single point and attempt only 1 shot. They will very nearly get 3 points because of a goaltending call, but review will fall in favor of Boston and KG will record it as a rebound, officially giving him a triple double on the game.
Rondo will stay relatively quiet through the first half, limiting himself to a respectable 27 assists and 15 steals. His first point won't come until the final Boston possession of the half where he will travel cross court in a blistering 1.8 seconds, scoring a layup, and drawing a foul on Bosh who was so confused on the play that he fouled Paul Pierce, KG, and Perkins (who was on the bench at the time) in the process of fouling Rondo. Meaning Bosh will sit out most of the 3rd quarter in foul trouble. Officially ending the half at 126 to 8 in favor of Boston.
At halftime Doc will be livid. "This is exactly what we were trying to avoid . . ." He will remind the team about hustle and good defense. And make sure that they realize that if they can't at least make it look fare the NBA brass will intercede and it'd be like last year all over again. Before he could finish his speech five men in black suits with dark sunglasses and NBA logo tie tacks will come into the locker room. They will force KG to change back into the 50 lb. sneakers he was wearing all of last year to slow him down. But, since he was now fully recovered from the knee surgery, 50 pounds was just not enough to contain his might. At the start of the second half KG will manhandle a rebound away of Lebron, take one step away from the Heat basket and then leap. He will fly across the court on fiery wings of anger and hate, holding the ball above his head like Thor and his Hammer. Slamming the ball with such ferocity that it compromises the structural integrity of the arena, causing fans and other assembled civilians to flee like extras in a Godzilla movie. Thankfully no one was killed, but three people were severely injured, nearly trampled to death in the escaping mass. And two people had to spend a month in ICU for overexposure to awesomeness.
The second and third string will play almost exactly half of the game and the score will make the match sound closer than it was, with the Celtics notching 356 points to Miami's 47. It will be debated for days as to whether or not it was okay of Doc to sit Paul Pierce only 5 points shy of 200 for the game. It will further be debated whether or not Boston should have played their back ups sooner. And after Boston's second unit thoroughly beat Miami's starters it will be further debated whether the Celtics second unit is actually the second best starting 5 in the league.
The Boston Cletics will go on to set records for most consecutive wins, most consecutive home wins, most consecutive 300 point games, most consecutive shut outs, solve world hunger, walk on water, and participate in physics experiment for MIT where they test what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immoveable object (the Celtics Offense takes on the Celtics Defense). In an unfortunate accident involving a Paul Pierce 3-point, 360 Windmill Tomahawk Dunk, the entire arena and facilities of the Charlotte Bobcats will be destroyed. Danny will arrange for the Bocats to play the remainder of their home games using Boston's arena. They will go on to win the final 32 games of their season due to soaking up second hand awesomeness.
A change will be made to the allstar game, and the allstars of both the East and West will face off against the Cletics. The popular debate will not be whether or not the collected all stars will be good enough to beat the Celtics, that would be silly. The debate will be whether or not the Allstars will be able to be the first team to score more than 30 points on the Celtics. In the wake of the game--as the Allstars limped away, shamed and broken--and the rest of the week will be spent saying that a more interesting contest would have been having the Allstars play against the Celtics B-squad. They still would have lost, but at least it would have been closer.
Percules will also stumble accidentally into a way of harnessing the power of his scowl to provide free electricity, but before he can develop a way to market it a petroleum company will purchase the rights to it and then cut funding to the project (it is rumored that the purchase included the oil company's CEO giving his own soul to Percules to eat like it was an after dinner mint, but that was largely dismissed as rumor).
I'll save my playoff and MVP predictions for another day, before I get too carried away.