October has arrived.  Each day, Americans and millions of fans around the world live and breathe one of the most popular sports: basketball.  There is so much excitement for not only the diehard fans, but also for the players trying to win the pinnacle of professional basketball, the coveted Larry O’Brien Trophy.  The past couple of seasons in the National Basketball Association have given fans and viewers their money’s worth: unforgettable shots, classic games, and unbelievable moments that will be etched in basketball immortality.  Here is my input for this upcoming 2014-2015 NBA season.

This past offseason, one of the greatest players in the world, LeBron James, decided to join the Cleveland Cavaliers after a four-year hiatus from playing for the Miami Heat.  James’s decision  has impacted the entire landscape of the National Basketball Association.  Not only are the Cavaliers the favorites to win the championship this year, but the Miami Heat’s reign of dominance of appearing in four straight NBA Finals is likely to end.  The Cleveland Cavaliers have one of the best point guards in the league in Kyrie Irving and one of the best power forwards in the game today, Kevin Love.  The Big Three in Cleveland look extremely talented on paper; however, they need to play more games together because their roster is young with promising stars and role players. 

Although the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to have one of the best records in the league due to LeBron James, the Chicago Bulls might come away with the best record in the Eastern Conference.  The Bulls have Derrick Rose, who is coming off of an ACL surgery, Joakim Noah, and Pau Gasol, a two-time champion with his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers.  Tom Thibodeau, who was an assistant coach for the former NBA champions, the Boston Celtics, back in 2008, coaches this Chicago Bulls team.  Thibodeau knows how to coach defense and this deep roster is one of the best defensive teams in the league.  Some must-see TV games in the Eastern Conference include the Chicago Bulls traveling to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Jan. 19, 2015, LeBron James’s first game back in Miami as a Cavalier against the Heat on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2014, and the Washington Wizards playing the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 7, 2014 in the Air Canada Centre, one of the loudest arenas in the NBA.  At the end of the season, the Chicago Bulls will own the best record in the Eastern Conference, followed by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, and finally, the Indiana Pacers.  In my opinion, the Chicago Bulls will represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. 

Heading to the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs look to continue their dominance and championship reign over powerhouses Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies, and Dallas Mavericks. In what was once a Lakers town, the better Los Angeles team seems to be the Clippers, as the combination of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin look to have a deep playoff run against the battle-tested Spurs and Thunder.  It is a shame because Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest superstars in the history of basketball and he must be frustrated seeing other teams head to the playoffs and try to win a championship, while he watches the games from the comfort of his own couch.  Unless Kobe Bryant and promising rookie Julius Randle play the best seasons of their careers, this Lakers’ team will be eliminated from playoff contention.

  The best matchups to look for this season include the Oklahoma City Thunder facing the Spurs in San Antonio on Christmas Day, the Golden State Warriors traveling to Los Angeles to play the Clippers on Christmas Day, and the Houston Rockets contending against the Dallas Mavericks on Feb. 20, 2015.  It was unfortunate to hear that Kevin Durant will miss a portion of the NBA season due to a Jones fracture in his right foot.  This injury will hinder the Thunder’s chances of becoming the top seed in the Western Conference.  The San Antonio Spurs will claim the top seed, followed by the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, and the Memphis Grizzlies. 

The San Antonio Spurs will represent the Western Conference and will most likely win back-to-back championships in the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history against the Chicago Bulls.  This is because Tim Duncan, the greatest power forward in the history of professional basketball, does the little things to help this team become successful: shooting bank shots, hitting high percentage shots, making free throws, blocking shots, and rebounding the basketball.  No wonder his nickname is Mr. Fundamental!  Fans will witness one of the greatest players ever to grace the hardwood play his final season and hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy for the last time as he rides into the sunset a winner.  Also, the Spurs play the best team basketball in the league, giving up good shots for great shots.  The combination of Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili will lead this team to victory.  These are just my predictions of the NBA 2014-2015 season.  Do not take my word for it; this is just my opinion.  Anything can happen!

Jared Fortunato is a freshman majoring in physical therapy.  He can be reached at fortunatojared@gmail.com

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