Like my man Chuck, I wanted to revisit my preseason predictions, as well as do the midseason awards. Sure, the second half started last night, but All-Star Weekend was poppin in da club, and everyone needed a little break after that.
I'll just get this out of the way and say that I was pretty well off the mark in the Atlantic. I had the standings looking something like Phila, Boston, Knicks, Brooklyn, Toronto. Now to be fair, Bynum hasn't played a god damn minute for the Sixers, which slightly influences their team. Alas, the road to the Eastern Conference Finals does not look like it's going to run through South Philly. The Knicks came out better than anyone expected, Beantown is a year older and much more injured, and Brooklyn is pretty mediocre. Toronto has slightly improved their win percentage, but still sit in the basement.
Now to the Southeast, where the Heat are taking care of things, as expected. 7.5 games back sit the Atlanta Hawks, who, like I predicted, can expect to be a midlevel seed who goes out early. Only excitement left here is to see if they trade Josh Smith or not. Below them, the Wizards. I was hoping they'd push for the 8th seed, which obviously isn't happening. Wall was out much longer than expected, and that really killed any hope they had. But they've been playing good basketball since his return, and a core of Wall/Beal/Nene is great to build on. The Magic and Bobcats bring up the rear. That puts me at 5/5 in the Southeast, and I expect someone to pay me for that kind of insight.
MVP: As I have previously stated, I want someone other than Bron to win. But after his recent stretch of play, it's in his hands. Durant is next up, with CP3 and darkhorse Tony Parker waiting in the wings. Obviously a lot of basketball left to play, and as Chuck said, one of the tightest races ever. The level of basketball these guys are playing is unreal.
Rookie of the Year: Damian Lillard. No contest.
Defensive Player: Joakim Noah. Not the biggest fan of him, but you can't deny what a force his is, playing an integral part of Chicago's surprise run to the 5 seed in the absence of DRose.
6th Man: Jamal Crawford. JR Smith can make a push if he and the Knicks pick things back up, but somebody from the Clippers needs to be recognized for their success.
Most Improved: Jrue Holiday. Chuck already made the case, but you can't deny the growth of Jrue, carrying a team sans their blockbuster trade acquisition. Without Jrue, the Sixers might be the worst team in the league.
Coach of the Year: Strong case for Mark Jackson, but the Warriors are in a precarious position. They've lost 6 straight, and need to turn things around stat before they start slipping further down the standings and giving the Lakers a whiff of a playoff spot. The award can be his, but Mike Woodson is waiting in the wings to snatch it if Golden State collapses.
Eastern Conference Finals: Miami vs Indiana. I just don't see the Bulls beating the Heat in the second round, regardless of a Rose comeback. They thoroughly dispatched of the Bulls in Rose's MVP season, and I don't see any reason for that to change. Not with the way Bron is playing. I think Indiana pulls an upset and knocks off a Knicks team who will not be able to shoot their way into the ECF. Miami wins in 6 very tough games.
Western Conference Finals: OKC vs San Antonio. Obvious sleeper here is the Clippers, but I just don't know which of those two teams I'd pick the Clippers to beat. OKC wins in 7.
Finals: OKC vs Miami, the rematch. Expect more of this. Heat in 6.