By Mike Monroe
The 2013 portion of the NBA season began with six New Year’s Day games and a fresh set of expectations based on roughly 40 percent of the season already completed.
Here are a few things to expect between now and April 17:
Another 60-win season for the Spurs: Admittedly, some of us expected a drop-off from last season, when 50 wins in a 66-game season extrapolated to 62 over 82 games. According to Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo, that makes us morons, but if Carlesimo knew in October that Tim Duncan would be averaging 17.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and making 81 percent of his free throws, he should consider a new career as a futures trader on Wall Street.
The Spurs have won 75.8 percent of their games despite playing 18 of their first 33 games on the road, and by this time next week they will have completed half their road schedule. They have only six road games in March and April, when they traditionally have played their best basketball.
A fourth MVP Award for LeBron James: If James doesn’t win again it will be because voters have tired of seeing him do so. He has the highest rating in John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Ratings and Larry Bird’s simpler math formula. Dwyane Wade has been injured or suspended for five games this season, yet the Heat lead the East because James is better than ever. His line from Monday’s overtime win over the Magic says it all: 36 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds in 47 minutes and 53 seconds, including the entire second half and overtime.
A return to the All-Star Game for Duncan: He’d rather spend another quiet, restful weekend at home with his family, but there’s no way the Western Conference coaches are snubbing the Spurs big man, as they did last year.
A top-four finish in the West for the Nuggets: No team, not even the Spurs, has had a more difficult early schedule than Denver. The Nuggets already have played 22 road games. Over the next 37 days they have only three road games, with 14 in Denver, at altitude. They finish the season with six of nine at home.
Have we mentioned they’re 10-1 at home?
A scary Western playoff matchup for whoever gets the Lakers: Even without home-court advantage in the first round, won’t they be the team nobody in the West is going to want?
Another suspension for DeMarcus Cousins: The Kings center recorded his first career triple-double in a 118-96 victory over the Celtics on Sunday, which will do nothing to slow the rumor machine that insists Sacramento will try to unload the troubling big man to the Celtics before the trade deadline in February.
Kings general manager Geoff Petrie told NBA.com’s David Aldridge most of the Cousins rumors exist “in their own reality.”
Here’s reality: Plenty of coaches and GMs have been fired for thinking they could change bad actors by putting them in positive environs. It never happens. Cousins already has been suspended three times this season, his apologies so hollow his teammates no longer want to hear them. Does anyone really expect he can change his ways?
Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?
That's a bold prediction about the Nuggets Mr Monroe. As to the Lakers, I think any team would like to beat the Lakers in the first round, that is if they even make it to the 1st round. How are they displaying any signs of being "scary"?
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