While this site will always focus on the Toronto Raptors, I always begin the season with a forecast for every NBA team. It’s time to call myself to account: how closely have my predictions stacked up against actual results? Let’s take a look at the Eastern Conference.
both New York teams: I predicted the Nets would win 52, and the Knicks 44. While Brooklyn has found its game, and is breathing down Toronto’s neck, they will need to go 23-1 to hit my number, and that ain’t happenin’. I’m not too bothered by my miss on the Nets, as I don’t believe anyone foresaw the decline in Deron Williams’ skills. I am, however, miffed about missing how bad the Knicks would be. I allowed myself to believe they could somehow create a team from a collection of piece parts, none of whom plays defense.
Milwaukee Bucks: I thought this young team would be ready to step up; instead they have fallen off a cliff. If I ever again call for a trade involving Ersan Ilyasova to the Raps, flame me mercilessly.
Hit back iron
Detroit Pistons: If you don’t believe this is the age of “small ball”, look no further than the sparkless Pistons. Two talented young giants in the frontcourt, and what have you got? A 24-37 record, when I called them to win 44.
Cleveland Cavaliers: why this group can’t improve is a mystery. There’s a lot of grumbling about Kyrie Irving….if they want to dump him, I fervently hope Masai Ujiri makes the first offer. I thought the Cavs would finish with 43 wins, but they won’t be within shouting distance.
Charlotte Bobcats: the Al Jefferson effect – he left a winning program in Utah, and they are having a tough season. He comes to Charlotte, and they might make the playoffs. I love good defense, which Al doesn’t provide, but he sure can score the ball.
Rolling around the rim
Atlanta Hawks: Injuries have derailed their season. They might claw their way back to the .500 level I predicted, but don’t wager more than a loonie on it.
Boston Celtics: Rajan Rondo’s return has helped, but they are clearly rebuilding. Why they didn’t dump the sullen, brilliant little point guard at the trade deadline is beyond me. He’s going to waste.
Toronto Raptors: If our guys can remain healthy, and continue to get production from a deep rotation, we’ll blow past the 42-win number I predicted. Nothing would please me more than being wrong to the upside.
Orlando Magic: An interesting team, one which might take a big step forward next season. I called 22 wins; they are already at 19, and don’t aspire to many more after dumping Glen Davis.
Nothing but net
Washington Wizards: I said they would finish 2 games above .500, which is almost exactly where they are today, and where I expect them to be at season’s end. The Wiz will be a tough out in the playoffs.
Philadelphia 76ers: They started well, but reality set in. I predicted 18 wins – they have 15, which is also how many consecutive losses they’ve racked up. Gruesome, even for committed tankers.
Indiana Pacers & Miami HEAT: Picking these two powerhouses to win a boatload of games hardly qualifies as a Great Moment In Prognostication. They will both finish around where I, and every other half-awake forecaster, figured they would – miles ahead of everyone else, and eager for the playoffs.
We’ll review my Western Conference predictions next.