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The 2007-08 NBA season proved to be one of the most exciting and surprising in recent memory. The Atlanta Hawks made the playoffs and gave the eventual champs a tough 7-game series. The Lakers won the Western Conference (57-25) and the Boston Celtics proved that you could win with 3 superstars on the roster. With the upcoming season less than a month away, excitement of the NBA season can be felt all around the sports world. Though many teams will make considerable strides in the 08-09 season, only 5 stand above the crowd.
1. Los Angeles Lakers – The Lakers finished the 2007-08 season on top of the Western Conference. With the return of Andrew Bynum and the reigning MVP Kobe Bryant, I see no reason why they won’t make it back the NBA Finals.
2. Boston Celtics- The Celtics returned to glory last season by bringing the 17th NBA Championship to the city. The Big 3 (Garnett, Allen, Pierce) will again lead the Celtics deep into the playoffs, but they neglected to re-sign the experienced veteran James Posey. This move could hurt their hopes of back-to-back titles.
3. New Orleans Hornets- MVP Runner-up Chris Paul and the Hornets became one the NBA’s elite last season by winning 56 games in the West, but fell short to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2nd round in a 7 game thriller. A year older and wiser, the Hornets should meet the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
4. Houston Rockets- Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming have finally received a solid complimentary player in Ron Artest. The Rockets made it to the playoffs on the strength of their 22-game win streak, finishing the season 55-27. Their playoff run again ended in the 1st round and they haven’t advanced past the 1st round since 1996. But with a healthy Yao and McGrady along with the addition of Ron Artest, the Rockets perhaps will make noise in the talented West.
5. Detroit Pistons- Rounding out the list are those Pistons from Detroit. The very talented and sometimes underachieving Pistons have made it the the Eastern Conference Finals from 2003-2007 and won the 2004 NBA title. In recent years, the Pistons have performed horribly in the playoffs, but with their core still intact ( Billups, Hamilton, Prince& Wallace) they will be among the best in the East yet again.