March 18, 2010

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Listed in predicted order of finish, with predicted record this season and coach.

1. Miami

60-22, Erik Spoelstra

Scary thought: LeBron James continues to get better. Scarier thought: The Heat might not need Greg Oden and/or Mike Beasley to rejuvenate their careers to win a third consecutive NBA title.

2. Chicago

59-23, Tom Thibodeau

The Bulls are welcoming back former MVP Derrick Rose but also added Mike Dunleavy. Chicago will have to count on an improving Jimmy Butler and a healthy Joakim Noah to get back to the conference finals.

3. Brooklyn

56-26, Jason Kidd

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has spared no expense in building a contender and the additions of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce should give the Nets some much-needed edge and mental toughness.

4. Indiana

55-27, Frank Vogel

After coming within a game of the NBA Finals, the Pacers brought back Larry Bird as team president to upgrade the beleaguered bench. Indiana added Luis Scola and has its fingers crossed for a healthy Danny Granger.

5. New York

50-32, Mike Woodson

The Knicks are all about appeasing free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony. New York added Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace but continue to be hamstrung by Amare Stoudemire’s bum wheels.

6. Detroit

44-38, Maurice Cheeks

The Pistons already had a young, potentially dynamic front line in fold, then snagged Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings in free agency with the hope that they can claim first playoff berth since 2009.

7. Atlanta

41-41, Mike Budenholzer

Danny Ferry lured Budenholzer out of San Antonio and Paul Millsap out of Utah. But Atlanta plans to maintain a run of six straight playoff berths once Lou Williams gets back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

8. Washington

40-42, Randy Wittman

After bold trade for Marcin Gortat, John Wall finally has the supporting cast to help him fulfill his promise. But Bradley Beal’s steady rise could be the real difference in helping Wall make his playoff debut.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Listed in predicted

order of finish, with

predicted record this season and coach.

1. L.A. Clippers

58-24, Doc Rivers

The Clippers retained Chris Paul and gave him more shooters (J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley) and a championship-winning coach to help elevate Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan beyond highlight dunks.

2. San Antonio

57-25, Gregg Popovich

The Spurs added Marco Belinelli to essentially the same cast that came within seconds of claiming a fifth NBA title. Kawhi Leonard’s improvement will be key to helping team rebound from devastation.

3. Oklahoma City

54-28, Scott Brooks

With Russell Westbrook (knee) down, the Thunder will need Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb to step up and help quiet the speculation that has already begun about Kevin Durant’s future in Oklahoma City.

4. Houston

53-29, Kevin McHale

Dwight Howard finally made a decision that made sense when he bolted the aging Lakers to play with James Harden and the free-wheeling Rockets. Howard should benefit from a coach with post moves.

5. Golden State

51-31, Mark Jackson

The Warriors are no longer the feel-good story. They now have higher expectations with a budding superstar in Steph Curry and the acquisition of defensive maestro Andre Iguodala.

6. Memphis

47-35, David Joerger

The Grizzlies are all-in for analytics after dismissing former coach Lionel Hollins. Memphis will now see if Joerger can manipulate the numbers and motivate Mike Conley and Zach Randolph.

7. Minnesota

45-37, Rick Adelman

Flip Saunders added Kevin Martin and kept Nikola Pekovic, but the Timberwolves are optimistic about ending a 10-year playoff drought because stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio are healthy.

8. Dallas

44-38, Rick Carlisle

Dirk Nowitzki has watched the Mavericks undergo another roster makeover since winning the 2011 title. With the additions of Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis, Nowitzki could have a bounce-back season.

— Michael Lee

Conference Finals Miami over Chicago | L.A. Clippers over Oklahoma City NBA Finals Miami over Los Angeles Clippers

SECTION: {section=sports, subsection=wizards}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=3, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=3, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=3, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=3, comments_source=washpost.com, default_sort=, default_tab=, display_comments=true, is_ugc_gallery=false, max_items_to_display=3, max_items_to_display_top=3, moderation_required=false, stream_id=}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=3, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=3, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=3, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Comments
SECTION: {section=sports, subsection=wizards}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=3, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=3, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=3, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=3, comments_source=washpost.com, default_sort=, default_tab=, display_comments=true, is_ugc_gallery=false, max_items_to_display=3, max_items_to_display_top=3, moderation_required=false, stream_id=}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=3, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=3, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=3, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!