Oct. 28, the NBA will open its doors as the 2008-09 regular season kicks off with a trio of games. As the Boston Celtics look to defend their title, which teams have the best chance of dethroning Kevin Garnett and Co.?

We are the champions!

Boston Celtics: Defending champs will stay on top until someone proves otherwise.

We will rock the champions!

Los Angeles Lakers: A healthy Andrew Bynum will help Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol with interior defense, but will the Lakers move Lamar Odom before the trading deadline?

New Orleans Hornets: Most promising team in the league: Chris Paul will challenge for league MVP again, and the signing of Posey can only help.

We recently played in finals, too!

Houston Rockets: Ron Artest should make things interesting. Is Yao/T-Mac/Artest the next “Big Three?”
Detroit Pistons: Window of opportunity closing fast for veteran team.

Cleveland Cavaliers: With Mo Williams and Delonte West, Cavs must win now to keep LeBron James.

Utah Jazz: Big hole at shooting guard keeps them out of top three, but Deron Williams will have them hovering near top.

San Antonio Spurs: The team has won titles in each odd year since 1999. It’s an odd year, and the trio of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker still scary good.

Orlando Magic: Dwight Howard continues to dominate and take the “Superman” moniker away from a former Magic star.
Philadelphia 76ers: Elton Brand makes them much better. With Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala and Samuel Dalembert, Sixers should make a solid playoff push.

Dallas Mavericks: Can Rick Carlisle put this team over the top? Is Jason Kidd too old to lead? Will Josh Howard stay?

Wonders What Basketball is Like in June

Phoenix Suns:
May be the last hurrah for Steve Nash and Shaquille O’Neal. Coach Terry Porter will help bring balance to offense.

Toronto Raptors: Best frontcourt in East with (healthy) Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Bosh.

Portland Trailblazers: Should round out West playoffs with (healthy) Greg Oden.

Washington Wizards: Resigning Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison was important, but will it pay off?

Indiana Pacers: Talented enough to sneak into playoffs, but will Pacers make right personnel moves this season?

Atlanta Hawks: Josh Smith might be a locker room cancer. He may be traded by deadline, but not before team’s playoff hopes are ruined.

Denver Nuggets: How long before they ship off Allen Iverson and/or Carmelo Anthony?

They play basketball in June?

Golden State Warriors:
Re-signed Monta Ellis before owner suspended him for 30 games. Losing Baron Davis was a big blow.

Los Angeles Clippers: Snatched Baron Davis, Ricky Davis and Marcus Camby, but lost Brand, Corey Maggette and GM Elgin Baylor. Will Al Thornton breakout?

Chicago Bulls: Would be ranked higher if they trade Ben Gordon.

Miami Heat: Good nucleus of Dwayne Wade, Shawn Marion and Michael Beasley. Trading Marion away might make them better.

They play basketball after October?

Minnesota Timberwolves:
How will Kevin Love fit in with Al Jefferson?

Sacramento Kings: Talented young nucleus about two seasons away from playoffs.

Charlotte Bobcats: Team plans to use massive cap space to relocate by 2010.

New Jersey Nets: If Vince Carter isn’t traded, he won’t get much help from Jianlian Yi or rookie Brook Lopez.

Milwaukee Bucks: Michael Redd and Richard Jefferson will keep Bucks competitive.

Oklahoma City Thunder: New digs won’t help Kevin Durant or team win more games.

Wait, what’s basketball?

Memphis Grizzlies:
Even with O.J. Mayo, team is too weak.
New York Knicks: At least New York basketball fans will have the Nets in Brooklyn soon (or not … arena financing delayed).


1st Round L.A. Lakers def. Portland

New Orleans def. Phoenix
Houston def. Dallas

Utah def. San Antonio

Boston def. Indiana

Washington def. Detroit

Cleveland def. Toronto

Orlando def. Philadelphia

2nd Round

L.A. Lakers def. Utah

New Orleans def. Houston

Boston def. Orlando

Cleveland def. Washington

Conference Finals

L.A. Lakers def. New Orleans

Cleveland def. Boston

NBA Finals

L.A. Lakers def. Cleveland