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FHM's NBA top picks
We pit the beasts of the East against the best of the West<br />
| Nov 2, 2006
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WORDS: James Dalusong
Photos from NBA Live

It’s opening day for the National Basketball Association, and much has been said about how wide-open the competition is this season. Nevertheless, the Larry O’Brien trophy is in the probable sights of only a few. And not since His Airness left the league after his sixth championship ring have the teams from the Eastern Conference seen a bit more parity between them and that of the Western Conference. With that said, here are the teams who could go all the way.

The Beasts of the East

Miami Heat – Shaquille O’Neal may be slowing down, but with the emergence of Dwyane Wade as a legitimate superstar, the Heat is still the top team to beat. They’d probably be on cruise-control until the playoffs start, especially since their point-guard position is a bit shaky with only the erratic Gary Payton to fill in the shoes for the injured Jason Williams. Will they add another veteran to shore up their roster, say, the recently bought-out Jalen Rose? Perhaps sooner rather than later. Bottom line is it’s gonna be up to Wade to keep everything together and hopefully get the team to mesh well and peak again at the right time (the playoffs).

Chicago Bulls - The acquisition of hard-nosed veterans Ben Wallace and PJ Brown, plus the fiery passion in their young guns would pay major dividends this season. Scott Skiles’ coaching philosophy has been well-ingrained in tough players such as Kirk Hinrich and Andres Nocioni, and building around continuing that philosophy in their off-season signings is excellent, and might prove to be the catalyst that will vaunt them to the top of the league and perhaps even an early championship for this group.

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