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PBT’s NBA season predictions: LeBron James gets his ring

Dec 19, 2011, 2:16 PM EDT

Miami Heat Media Day Getty Images

Before Miami Heat fans get excited about this, remember that I suck at making predictions.

But thanks to my never-exhausted capacity for self-embarrassment, I’m giving you my predictions for the coming season (scroll down to see Brett from PBT’s calls for this season). I think that the condensed schedule — and condensed playoff schedule — benefits teams with younger legs, and that factors in. Here we go.

Western Conference

1. Oklahoma City Thunder
2. Dallas Mavericks
3. Los Angeles Lakers
4. San Antonio Spurs
5. Memphis Grizzlies
6. Portland Trail Blazers
7. Los Angeles Clippers
8. Houston Rockets

I think Denver is in the mix for one of those last spots as well and I may have made a mistake putting Houston in and the Nuggets out. It’s close. No, the Clippers are not very high (I still need to see them defend consistently), but I think they find themselves mid-season and become the team nobody wants to play come the playoffs. I think Memphis takes steps forward but still has a ways to go, and that Dallas will be great in the regular season but is really going to miss Tyson Chandler come the second round of the playoffs. As for the Lakers, I don’t see the steep drop off many do. There are questions of depth, but they still have Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum up front, Kobe Bryant is healthy and they will play more physically on defense.

Western Conference finals: Los Angles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder.

Eastern Conference

1. Miami Heat
2. Chicago Bulls
3. New York Knicks
4. Boston Celtics
5. Indiana Pacers
6. Atlanta Hawks
7. Orlando Magic
8. Milwaukee Bucks

I think the top six are pretty much locks (even if the order shifts a little, and yes the Pacers with David West are in there), but picking the bottom two is hard. Orlando is in if they hold on to Dwight Howard most of the season (they won 52 games last year) and I think the Bucks will be better this year. But this leaves Philly on the outside looking in and that is hard. Plus I think Washington is going to be a lot better, they may still just miss out. Same with the Nets.

Eastern Conference Finals: Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls. (That seems the safe pick, but they were the two best teams last year and they got better. The Knicks will improve but their defense still will not be good enough. The Celtics would need a Mavericks-like run to make it.)

NBA finals: Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder.

NBA champion: Miami Heat.

The Heat are still lacking a big man in the paint and that could be their undoing if they have to face a team that gets a lot of points from their bigs, but I’m not sure I see that on their path to the ring.


Brett Pollakoff from PBT also gave us his predictions:

The compressed, 66-game schedule the NBA has forced upon teams due to the lockout will have a bigger effect on the season’s ultimate result than any of the big free agent signings. Tyson Chandler to the Knicks is sure to help, and Chris Paul to the Clippers will fill the highlight reels with ridiculousness. But the teams loaded with talent that didn’t undergo wholesale personnel changes — and aren’t too veteran-laden to worry about breaking down over the course of the season — are the ones likely to be there at the end.

Western Conference Finals: Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks

Eastern Conference Finals: Miami Heat and New York Knicks

NBA Finals: Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder

NBA Champion: Miami Heat

  1. danj3678 - Dec 19, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    Shocker… Kurt Helin wrote this article… LBJ’s personal little PBT blogger.

    • blueintown - Dec 19, 2011 at 2:42 PM

      Yeah, I’m shocked that this or any other basketball website would pick the most talented, best defensive team in the game to win it all. Who would pick the NBA runner-up that got better in the offseason to advance one more spot? Shocking.

      • cosmicatomic - Dec 19, 2011 at 3:25 PM

        Well…nothing wrong with picking the Heat. But of course Helin spins it “LeBron James gets his ring” with introspective LeBron photo op to boot. There’s no doubt Helin’s a massive LeBron jocksniffer. I remember Helin bashing peoples for mocking LeBron for some dummy charity work or donation or something, because REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT LEBRON – HE WAS HELPING KIDS. Then like a week later he had an article ripping apart Andray Blatch for off-court stuff even the the topic at hand was Blatche writing a children’s book or something. It was bush league LeBron ballwashing BS!

      • danj3678 - Dec 19, 2011 at 8:50 PM

        I was not shocked at the pick… I was makin fun of how kurt always writes about LBJ.. However, I am still convinced that Kurt Helin is actually Lebron James.. :-) … I do wonder what percentage of articles Kurt has written for this site have had LBJ connected to them.

      • Kurt Helin - Dec 20, 2011 at 9:16 PM

        Has anyone actually seen me and LBJ in the same place at the same time?

      • muhangis - Dec 20, 2011 at 7:04 AM

        How in the world did the Heat get better in the offseason?

        If anything they got worse losing Ilgauskas, their most productive player outside of the big 3 last season…. and lose that big man in the middle they desperately need.

        They had no significant additions at all to their team. Also they got a year older (past their prime)… being they were already older than your avg NBA team.

        Heat are nowhere near the best defensive team. The Bulls, Bucks, Celtics, Magic, & Hornets were all ahead of them in D last year. Next they tied w/ Portland & the Lakers. So your comment makes no sense at all in any aspect!

        [btw they are not the most talented – they have three good players. that’s it!
        The rest are straight scrubs]

      • muhangis - Dec 20, 2011 at 7:06 AM

        Plus if any one of the big 3 gets a serious injury, consider them finished!

      • muhangis - Dec 20, 2011 at 7:09 AM

        Not mentioning too their coaching is very sub-par.

      • muhangis - Dec 20, 2011 at 7:10 AM

        And they get out-rebounded virtually every game….

      • muhangis - Dec 20, 2011 at 7:13 AM

        The Bulls are even better than last year, and there are more great teams for Miami to compete against this year.

      • muhangis - Dec 20, 2011 at 7:21 AM

        Oh yeah…. still the bad karma is on their side, they can’t / won’t shake that off.

      • muhangis - Dec 20, 2011 at 7:25 AM

        Oh yeah…. still the bad karma is on their side, they can’t / won’t shake that off.

        OKC Thunder and Bulls are still better teams. Can never count out the Lakers.

      • muhangis - Dec 20, 2011 at 7:26 AM

        Oh yeah…. still the bad karma is on their side, they won’t / can’t shake that off.

        Bulls and OKC Thunder are still better teams. Can never count out the Lakers either.

      • blueintown - Dec 20, 2011 at 7:32 AM

        They got worse by losing Ilgauskas? Did you actually watch any basketball games last year? If it turns out Eddy Curry remains an overweight, lazy, lead-footed buffoon he will still be an upgrade over Ilgauskas. Wade and James are two of the elite defensive players in the game, this isn’t breaking news. Yeah, you could start to worry about it if one them got hurt. You’d probably worry about the Bulls if Rose got hurt, worry about the Thunder if Durant got hurt, or worry about the Colts if Peyton Manning got hurt. Spoelstra does a fine job, but when he doesn’t, he’s got a pretty good bug in his ear in the home office. You are spot on about the rebounding, but making shots and playing defense is enough to compensate (as evident by them advancing to the NBA Finals last year). There are not “more great teams” this season. Agreed, the Bulls have gotten better, but they still lack that second option that can break down a defense.

      • blueintown - Dec 20, 2011 at 7:32 AM

        The Bulls can’t STILL be the best team, because they never were the best team. Continue watching basketball this year after Game 1 of the conference finals and you will learn some things.

    • berbes - Dec 20, 2011 at 1:18 PM

      i can’t believe how many la-believers there are who dismiss the fact that no matter how individually good this pr!ck might be, he’s no teammate, and it takes a team to win.

      the fact that laBron’s pool boy writes this drivel only gets him into the best miami nightclubs. what a laTool.

      • jimeejohnson - Dec 21, 2011 at 12:19 PM

        You sound like a prick!

  2. gpatrick15 - Dec 19, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    I can see LBJ getting a ring this year. I hope he does eventually, whether this year or in the future. Contrary to a lot of people, I don’t hate LeBron or the Heat (anymore). I used to dislike them a little for the way they went in Dallas in 06 and beat the Mavs, but after last years finals I feel avenged. The Heat have a great team, but their bench issues still aren’t solved fully and I still don’t trust Spoelstra. But they still have Wade and Lebron. I don’t see LeBron choking in the clutch again. I think they make it to the finals.

  3. pl4tinum514 - Dec 19, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    he wont get it this year
    injuries are going to take them out

    • trueballs - Dec 19, 2011 at 4:00 PM

      Not a bad prediction….it’s hard to bet against them, but if the bench is injured again I predict a significant injury to one of the Big 3, which essentially throws them out of the mix. It scares me that LBJ has been physically invincible (few tweaks here and there) since he got in the league.

  4. xeno75 - Dec 19, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    Wow…what a bold prediction to make…

  5. tampajoey - Dec 19, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    Frontrunners can be both fans and media that jump on a bandwagon.

    The media loves jumping on the Lebron/Heat bandwagon because it’s an easy story to write about.

    I’ll take the field against Miami. The Heat couldn’t do it last season and this year there are even more Great Teams to compete against the Heat and keep them from winning the title.

    • blueintown - Dec 19, 2011 at 5:11 PM

      More great teams? What additional great teams are there?

  6. tcclark - Dec 19, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    The only way the sixers don’t make the playoffs is if they trade iguodala. otherwise expect them to be in the 4-6 range. they have the exact same team as last year and are really deep on the bench. in a shortened season having continuity, team chemistry, and a deep bench will get you far. they won’t do much outside the regular season, but they will be a lot better than you’re predicting.

  7. kfiz14 - Dec 19, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    Way to go out on a limb. Puppet jackasses.

  8. chitownmatt - Dec 19, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    Predictions are like opinions….
    And we all know what opinions are like.

    For the record, I would like to state that the Cleveland Cavaliers will finally win the NBA finals…. in a post apocalyptic NBA featuring only the Cleveland Cavaliers and some high school team from Kupreanof, Alaska.

  9. klownboy - Dec 19, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    Here are my predictions.

    • blueintown - Dec 19, 2011 at 5:39 PM

      Everyone saw this already. No one cares.

      • florida727 - Dec 19, 2011 at 7:16 PM

        Sorry, “blueintown”, you’re wrong. I did NOT see this already… and I don’t care. Okay. You’re 1 for 2. Not bad I suppose.

      • blueintown - Dec 19, 2011 at 7:25 PM

        I’ll take it.

  10. florida727 - Dec 19, 2011 at 7:21 PM

    Anybody predicting injuries needs to go to Vegas if you’re that good. What if Rose gets hurt in Chicago? What if Kobe gets hurt in LA? What if Dirk gets hurt in Dallas? What if Carmelo gets hurt in NY? ANY superstar getting hurt relegates a team to immediate also-ran status. Harder to predict if you assume everyone stays healthy. I can’t stand LeBum, but if the Heat stay healthy, I think they win it all too. (Wow. That was more painful to type than I thought. I need to go lay down.)

  11. metalhead65 - Dec 19, 2011 at 7:51 PM

    are you serious Kurt? who could have predicted that you of all people would go out on limb like that and pick Lebron James of people to win the title. but I guess we should no t be surprised as you are such a impartial voice when it comes to all things lebron right?ok that is all I can write with a straight face! it would be a shocker the day you did no pick him to win or side with him on any issue. that’s why we come to this site where it is all lebron all day 24/7.

    • passerby23 - Dec 20, 2011 at 1:02 AM

      Helin doesn’t have to go out on a limb and pick a dark horse, he has to pick who he thinks is going to win. Miami is the most sensible pick – as much as I hate to say that.

      That being said, I like the Jazz to squeak out the 8th seed in the West over Houston and Orlando to miss the playoffs in favor of Philly. Philly grabs the 6th seed, Indiana 7th.

      • Kurt Helin - Dec 20, 2011 at 9:13 PM

        I honestly struggled with what to do with Orlando, but they won 52 last year and if they keep Howard most of the season they should win a lot of games.

  12. rudwo - Dec 19, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    Almost every contender got worse except the Heat (and the Thunder).

    If they are ever going to win one, this is the year they need to do it.

    • Kurt Helin - Dec 20, 2011 at 9:17 PM

      I think the Bulls got better, too.

  13. reupjosh - Dec 19, 2011 at 11:55 PM

    Like another commenter posted, I’ll take the field over heat.

  14. 00maltliquor - Dec 20, 2011 at 3:54 AM

    Wow Kurty, you surprised me. You did a pretty good job. Switch San Antonio with Portland in the West and knock out Milwakee in favor of Philly (It will be a battle though) and you’re pretty spot on. Good job.

    I wouldn’t put Houston there in the 8th spot even though I would love to see them back in the playoffs (my 2nd team I root for). I think Denver will be fighting Minnasota for that last spot (bold prediction!!).

    And I’m so glad you said that about Indiana. They will be this years surprise team in a way Memphis came up last year and that 5th spot is very fitting. I’m very big on those Pacers, they won’t dissapoint. Philly has a chance to be a shockingly tough team to beat but I’m not quite ready to stick my neck out for them yet. A lot of it depends on if their young bigs (Speights/Hawes) develop and are ready to take the next step.

  15. jhastrello - Dec 20, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    The Heat will have to improve in one major category. Heart.

    Watching the finals last year, it was obvious that the missing indgredient was not talent, it was Heart. Dallas had it and the Heat came up far short. I can’t see where that has been addressed, so even if they get to the finals again – I think they come up short if they face a team from the West that has that intangible.

    It’s too early to tell whether the Mav’s have made the changes that would be needed to have another good run, but the Heart is still there on the team. Just not sure about the legs.

  16. Chris Fiorentino - Dec 20, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    Did anyone expect anything else from PHT(ProHeatTalk).com?

  17. florida727 - Dec 23, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    I still think the Heat, ultimately, are a “donut team”. Chris Bosh is not a superstar. I know everyone refers to them as the Big Three, but I don’t see it in Bosh. Point to a game where he really went off along with either LeBron or Wade. Bosh’s big games come when BOTH LeBron and Wade are being held reasonably in-check. Translation: teams can shut down two top-level talents, just not three. Focus on LeBron and Wade, let Bosh get whatever he gets because he won’t beat you on his own the way LeBron or Wade can. I think their lack of a true post presence is what prevents them from maybe winning it all. Bosh is really a “4” or even a “3” far more than he’ll ever be considered a true “5”.

    • jollyjoker2 - Dec 25, 2011 at 11:57 AM

      I agree, I also look at wade as a year older on the back side of his career. It will be interesting if in the off season lebron tackled his lack of jump shooting. Lebron is great at going to the hole but you beat him down a little and he has a hard time adjusting. He isnt MJ when it comes to shooting. Outside of florida, there is a lot of people who don’t like his pompous its all about me attitude, he will have to deal with that also.

  18. jimeejohnson - Dec 25, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    Mavericks got their butts kicked by the Heat today. Wade and LeBron looked very good. Not fully convinced Miami is gonna win it all, but barring injury to Wade or LeBron, they have as good a chance as any team.

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