Dead Heat (Ha!)

I love it when a pun comes together. Is it a good pun? Maybe not. Actually, I'm not actually sure it makes sense. Read on and let me know. I digress...

ESPN.com, as part of its preseason predictions spread, put together a panel of 25 hoops writers asking the most fundamental question of all: Who will be the NBA Champions for 2010-11? Kudos to Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com, who picked the Celtics, setting up a fantastic bit of preseason symmetry.

24 writers remain. 12 picked the Lakers, 12 went with the Miami Heat. Interestingly, the two writers covering the Heat for ESPN (Brian Windhorst, Michael Wallace) were among the dozen throwing their lot in with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Co., while the ESPNLA.com representatives (Dave McMenamin, Ramona Shelburne) chose the purple and gold. Andy and I weren't among the participants (it's very possible we suffer from a shrimp on a treadmill induced credibility issue), but are also on record picking the Lakers to earn a third straight title.

Could be coincidence, or maybe not. Most writers actively try not to be honks for the local team, but clearly the folks in each local market feel the respective teams they cover have something very special to offer. I tend to think familiarity often influences opinion, both on the upside and downside.

Maybe this isn't the best example, because Miami is yet to play a game in its current incarnation. On the other hand, Windhorst covered James in Cleveland. He'd know better than most how LBJ will fit with his new teammates, his frame of mind, movtivation, and so on. Wallace covered Dwyane Wade for the Miami Herald, and has a great understanding of how (don't call me) Flash will adjust to his revamped rosterI know covering the Lakers in the detail I do expands my view of their potential. It's extremely easy for me to picture them winning again. If I was deeply immersed in what's happening in south Florida, would I feel more comfortable picking them, instead?

It's not like either choice is outrageous. Neither, for that matter, is picking Boston. After all, my Finals prediction this year is for a rematch of last year's pairing.