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NBA Nation Australia’s Season Previews: Part 4

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS:

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Ah yes, LA’s ‘Other’ team. The perennial losers of the battle of LA and the Pacific Division, and little brother to the Lakers. Until now… The Clippers are primed and ready to take the division, conference and perhaps even the title in 2013/14. They were given a hand up when the league vetoed the Lakers deal for Chris Paul, and they were able to sign him off the back and since then have not looked back. Creating a deep, offensively charged roster of young guns (and a few vets) to lead them to the next era of Clipper basketball, there’s no telling exactly where this team will wind up at the culmination of this season. My guess? It’ll be right up there. As a Laker fan myself, it’s strange seeing the roles reversed, and the Clippers being the team to beat in LA and I have my own beef with them, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is a team that is going to contend. Not only did the team re-sign CP3 to a multi year deal, the Clips also resigned Matt Barnes and made moves for JJ Redick, Darren Collison, Jared Dudley, Byron Mullens and Antawn Jamison to round out their stacked roster. It’s unknown what will happen with Lamar Odom in light of recent events, but it’s a possibility he returns as well. Their core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford should gel nicely with this group and the Clippers will continue their dominant form and continue to be the team to beat in LA, and along the West Coast. Can they beat OKC, and eventually Miami or Indiana to win a title further down the track? It’s a tough ask for mine, but they’ll be right there at the end nonetheless.

Players In:

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JJ Reddick, Jared Dudley, Darren Collison, Byron Mullens, Antawn Jamison

Players Out:

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Caron Butler, Ronnie Turiaf, Chauncey Billups

Prediction: 4th in the West

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

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Who the hell knows what’s going to happen with this team. The Lakers just lost someone they wanted to keep for the first time in their history, and they’re hurting after a tumultuous season of indecision, bad chemistry, coaching troubles, communication breakdowns, locker room drama and on court struggles. But, as is the normality in Laker land, it wouldn’t be the same without all the drama and the Lakers will get back up, but whether or not it’s this season remains to be seen. They’ve made some great signings considering their struggles financially, and as they’ve only been able to offer potential signees veterans minimums, they’ve done surprisingly well. There is no money to spend right now, but the Lakers still have a solid core, with good role players and, if they remain healthy, should be able to compete this year. A huge amount of their success rests on their wounded warrior Kobe Bryant, and if he’ll be able to make it back in time and at full speed. Should he return to be the dominant player he always was then it’s massive for the Lakers. Pau Gasol will likely head back to his natural spot at the 5, with new recruit Chris Kaman able to double the power forward position if need be. They also have Jordan Hill coming back, who Mike D’Antoni is already talking about using as a stretch 4. They lack depth at the 3, and amnestying Metta World Peace only worsened that situation. Nick Young, while a natural shooting guard, can play the three so it’s possible that once Bryant returns, Young will occupy some time down low. The Lakers are stronger in the back court than they were in recent years with Bryant, Nash, Meeks, Young, Blake and the returning Jordan Farmar all providing plenty of fire power. It won’t be a season to remember for LA, and all eyes are on free agency in 2014 where they’re expected to make a big splash, but it won’t be a complete disappointment either.

Players In:

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Chris Kaman, Jordan Farmar, Nick Young, Wes Johnson, Shawne Williams

Players Out:

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Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison, Earl Clark, Chris Duhon, Devin Ebanks, Andrew Goudelock, Darius Morris

Prediction: 8th in the West

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES:

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It should be an interesting season for the Grizzlies, who didn’t make a huge splash over the summer in terms of signings or trades, but they did retain a solid core of players who will continue to gel together as they tackle season 2013/14. The re-signing of Tony Allen to continue to play a versatile role in the back court alongside Mike Conley and Jerryd Bayless coupled with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol down low rounds out their core, and should give a lot of teams a pretty severe headache. They also have some good depth with Quincey Pondexter and Tayshaun Prince able to occupy the 3, and new recruit Kosta Koufos relieving Gasol at the 5. They gain plenty from solid perimeter defender and sharp shooter Mike Miller who will help improve their relatively lackluster outside scoring after returning from Miami. The Grizzlies have copped some criticism for not making any big moves, but considering their position they’ve done everything that was available to them and they’ve gotten marginally better without doing very much. Watch them grind out big defensive games and scrape their way to the upper echelons of the standings in the new season!

Players In:

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Mike Miller, Kosta Koufos, Josh Akognon, Nick Calathes, Jamaal Franklin

Players Out:

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Darrell Arthur, Austin Daye, Keyon Dooling

Prediction: 5th in the West

MIAMI HEAT

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Will the Heat and LeBron three-peat? Plenty are saying yes, and that they’re still the team to beat in the NBA and for the most part, that’s exactly right. The East has been completely dominated by LeBron James the last two years and while all credit is due to King James, the conference as a whole has been underwhelming with some usually hard to beat teams falling by the wayside. LeBron, by right, has owned the East and until now there has been very little competition. But with the Pacers rising, and the return of Derrick Rose amongst other things, the East is now tougher than it’s been for some time and the Heat won’t have the easy ride to the finals that they’ve enjoyed recently. All credit to them, they’ve been by far the best team in the league for two years, but now there are challengers and it’s not going to be easy. An aging Dwyane Wade will need to step up this year as last season wasn’t his strongest offensively and was (aside from some select incredible Wade moments) largely carried by his team. Add Chris Bosh into that little sentiment as well, but with the addition of Greg Oden he should get some help presuming he stays healthy. The signing if Chris Andersen is huge for Miami as his defensive effort last season was second to none and he came through when needed right to the end. His form in the new season as a role player will be paramount to the Heat’s success. Of course, LeBron will need to continue to perform and will likely need another MVP season if they Heat are going to three-peat. At the culmination of this season, the East will be more than a one horse race, and Miami are going to have to be a step ahead if they want to win it.

Players In:

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Greg Oden

Players Out:

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Mike Miller

Prediction: 2nd in the East (Indiana 1st)



NBA Punters Picks

NBA Punters Picks

After a few days waiting for the league to settle most teams have 2-3 games under their belts. Some teams showing some stunning early season form (Houston) whilst others are struggling to get started (Detroit, Denver, Sacramento all 0-3).

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For the Punters – NBA Sunday

We have a big NBA Sunday coming up overnight, we here at NBA Nation Oz cant wait to see what happens.  See below for some bets we think are worth a punt.

Miami @ Oklahoma City

The biggest game of the day could be a preview of the NBA Finals –  2 of the NBA’s hottest teams.  Oklahoma are looking to defend their NBA best home court record of 21-4.

Our pick: OKC -1  ($1 = 1.91 on Sportingbet)
Oklahoma City just came of a inspiring win over Minnesota yesterday in double overtime, this win should give them the confidence to tackle the Heat head on. Each time the Thunder have beaten the Heat (since 07) it has been by 9 + points. We like the Thunder at home.
Utah @ Atlanta
This game will see one streak come to an end, Utah on an incredible streak of 6 wins while Atlanta look to defend a 3 game streak at home. Utah’s streak and crushing beat down on Denver on friday night has driven them into 7th in the Western Conference, giving the Jazz a shoot in the arm. Can Atlanta survive with it’s injury toll mounting (see: Injury Report)

Our Pick:  Utah win ($1 = 2.05 on Sportingbet)
Utah are playing with enthusiasm and their bench is deep. Atlanta are at the tail end of a back-to-back-to-back and that could be their undoing. We like the inside presence and power of Favours & Jefferson to do some real damage to Smith and Pachulla.

Memphis @ Los Angeles Lakers

A reinvigorated Lakers outfit should see the team through the challenge that is the Grizzlies. The speed and tenacity of newly acquired point guard Ramon Sessions coupled with the size and strength of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol will undoubtedly be too much for this Memphis side. Because of these factors the pressure has been taken off Kobe Bryant, which in turn saw ALL FIVE starters register double figures on Saturday against Portland.

Our Pick: Los Angeles win ($1 = 1.33 on SportingBet)

LA have shown they are a real threat in the West, improving their win loss record to 30-18 and holding a 3-Game advantage over their cross-town rivals the Clippers. We are increasingly impressed with the power of Bynum who is playing MVP-quality ball, and how the team is coming together since the inclusion of Sessions. This will undoubtedly be too much for the likes of Randolph and Mayo in the confines of the Staples Center.

Washington Wizards @ Boston Celtics

It’s been a tough week for both these sides. The Celtics are coming off a crushing loss to Philadelphia which saw injuries sustained by Mickael Pietrus and Avery Bradley, and the Wizards are out of form in almost every way having won only three of the last ten games. They have also lost Rashard Lewis and Andray Blatche to injury.

Our Pick: Boston win ($1 = 1.17 on SportingBet)

TD Garden has become a safe house for the Celtics of late with the team winning their last 5 at the venue, and will be looking to sweep the series with the Wizards 4-0. Paul Pierce is averaging 18 points a game and is still a genius in the clutch, whilst John Wall has averaged 12 points over the past three starts, not to mention making only 4/13 in his last visit to TD Garden. While the Celtics are struggling this season, we know that they still possess the ability to overcome the lowly Washington Wizards.

Stay tuned overnight as we launch our very own tipping comp.