By David Schuster —

I never hide my feelings when it comes to basketball. I’m an admitted junkie, a gym rat and an absolute lover of the sport. And when you talk about hoops the best of the best is the NBA and the season gets underway tonight. The following is my predictions (please don’t rush to make any bets) on the 2010/11 campaign.

I’ll cut right to the chase and tell you that for the umpteenth time you probably will see a Lakers-Celtics final. I know the sexy and logical prediction is the Lakers and the Heat and,  yes,  Miami will be very good but I don’t see them getting to the finals. With LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh the Heat have a trio of stars unlike any other team in the NBA but they are not bullet proof and their weakness is in the middle where they have three 7 footers but none of them are really good. Joel Anthony (by default) will start in the middle and they do have 7’3″ Zydrunas Ilgauskas but he’s a relic at this point. So ultimately when Miami gets to the post season and has to match up vs. either Orlando or Boston that weakness will be their downfall. I’m picking Boston to ultimately come out of the East because I still feel they are the most complete team. Doc Rivers is a great coach and this year they have added pieces that will make them a deeper team. Much Like last year they might have some rough spots in the regular season but when it becomes money time in April I’m looking for the Celtics to turn it on.

As for the Bulls, there is no question that they are a vastly improved team from one year ago. It’s just too bad that Carlos Boozer will miss the first month but when he returns and gets acclimated to his team mates this is also a very deep team that should be able to score from inside and out. Until then the rest of the players will have to pick up the slack but Derrick Rose keeps improving as does Joakim Noah and there is much better outside shooting on this team. I see the Bulls finishing anywhere from 3rd to 6th in the conference and pending on matchups could win a first round series.

In the West it will be one last go around for the Lakers. This will be Phil Jackson’s final season as coach and I see him going out a winner again. Kobe Bryant has an insatiable zest for winning and obviously is still a great player and he’ s still surrounded by a great cast. The Spurs will have their moments but Father Time is catching up to them so the Oklahoma City Thunder are the team that will challenge L.A. The Thunder gave the Lakers all they could handle in last years playoffs and will only get better with more experience. Kevin Durrant is quickly becoming the best player in the league and he’s got a young surrounding cast.

So throw the ball up and let’s get it going. God how I love this sport.

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