NBA season reaches halftime

by Beacon Staff • February 6, 2008

The Celtics, with the addition of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, have been one of the surprises in the NBA this seaason.,Fear not, Patriots fans: there's still another Boston professional sports team with title aspirations to keep you entertained until baseball season.

The Celtics, with the addition of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, have been one of the surprises in the NBA this seaason. The rest of the league has been interesting too, especially with trades of Pau Gasol and Shaquille O'Neal in the past week.

The remainder of the season should offer just as many entertaining plots as the first three months. Here are some potential stories to look out for in the coming months.

No more major trades will be made before the trade deadline on Feb. 21.

Sorry, Cleveland and Dallas; you're stuck with what you have. Those teams, along with a slew of others, could use some extra talent to give them a boost. But given the difficulty of moving bad contracts, as well as the unwillingness of GMs to take risks, no more big names beyond Gasol and O'Neal will be switching cities.

No more coaches will be fired before the end of the season.

Although many teams are performing poorly, ex-Chicago coach Scott Skiles will be the only coaching casualty before the season ends. Why? Well, Miami is terrible, but Pat Riley is his own boss. New York hasn't fired Isiah Thomas yet, so why now? Everyone else should be pretty safe for the remainder of the year.

The Boston Celtics will win between 55 and 60 games.

Boston, which started the season 29-3, was being talked about as a possible threat to the 1996 Chicago Bulls' record of 72 wins. But with a recent stumble bringing the Green's record to 34-9, and a tough trip out West looming after the All-Star break, Boston will be lucky to win 60 games.

LeBron James will be named Most Valuable Player.

With all the attention being given to the resurgent Celtics, Cleveland's James has quietly been having the best season of his career. He has a chance to be the first player since Michael Jordan in 1988 to average 30 points, eight rebounds and eight assists per game. Cleveland will finish with the third-best record in the East, and James will win his first MVP.

New Orleans will advance to the second round of the playoffs.

Leading the Western Conference, the Hornets are one of the surprises of the NBA this season. Although they're not San Antonio or Dallas, the Hornets have the talent necessary to prove they're no fluke. Chris Paul and David West will get this team into the Western Conference semifinals.

Boston and Detroit will not meet in the Eastern Conference finals.

Although both these teams have performed outstandingly so far this season, things very seldom turn out how we expect them to. Either Cleveland or Orlando will be able to exploit one of these two teams' weaknesses and reach the East finals.

San Antonio will repeat as NBA Champions.

The Spurs are in cruise control at the moment, as many of their players are still nursing injuries. Come February, though, they'll be going full-throttle. The Spurs are still the best, most experienced team in basketball, and they'll affirm their dynasty status with a fifth title in 10 years.

Shaquille O'Neal will retire at season's end.

O'Neal, injured for the second straight year, has said he will not retire at the end of the season. Plus, he has $40 million reasons over the next two years to keep him playing. However, the Big Aristotle is a shell of his former self, and it's tough to watch him at times. Shaq will realize it's the end of the line, and go out with his pride intact.