A couple years ago I made some NBA playoff predictions and they turned out pretty solid – 14 of the 16 teams I picked made the playoffs (never mind the order).

Though nobody seems to be talking about it, the NBA season begins tomorrow. I’m ready though (not sure if my Pacers are), so I’m going to give this thing another stab. Here are my eight Eastern and Western Conference playoff teams for the 2010-11 season (division winners bolded and italicized).

Eastern Conference

The time for talking, whining, smoke machines, etc. is almost over for the Heat.

1.) Miami Heat – Way to go out on a limb here eh? Dwyane Wade’s health worries me, but let’s face it, if this team stays healthy they’ll win a ton of games. Pat Riley did a great job putting some solid veteran pieces around his Big 3.

2.) Orlando Magic – I’m still not sold on the Magic’s toughness in the playoffs, but they will rack up plenty of wins during the regular season. Dwight Howard is the best big man in the game and his teammates can shoot the lights out.

3.) Chicago Bulls – With the Heat and Celtics stealing all the offseason headlines, nobody is talking about the Bulls. This was a solid team last season and by adding Carlos Boozer in the post, they become a contender.

4.) Boston Celtics – The Celtics have another title run in them and only got stronger by adding Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal in the post. However, Doc Rivers has the toughest gig in the NBA trying to figure out how to keep all these guys fresh for the postseason, which will lead to fewer regular-season wins.

5.) Atlanta Hawks – The Hawks are quietly building something in Atlanta. Sure they overpaid Joe Johnson but so what, they have a young, talented nucleus that is now playoff tested.

6.) Milwaukee Bucks – Andrew Bogut has to stay healthy, but if he does, the Bucks will have one of the best inside/outside combinations around with he and Brandon Jennings.

7.) Charlotte Bobcats – Larry Brown is still coaching, the bottom-half of the East is weak, and this team can play defense. That’s a formula for a playoff berth.

8.) Indiana Pacers – I can’t resist, I had to put them in here. For this to happen the Pacers are going to need big things out of new point guard Darren Collison and for Danny Granger to start playing to his potential on the defensive end.

Western Conference

It's just really, really hard to bet against these guys.

1.) LA Lakers – There’s just no way not to put them at No. 1. Aside from Kobe Bryant’s age and Andrew Bynum’s knee, this team truly has no weaknesses.

2.) Utah Jazz – The Jazz lose Boozer, but add Al Jefferson and Raja Bell. Deron Williams is one of the most underrated players in the league and Jerry Sloan will finally get this team back to being one of the league’s best.

3.) Portland Trailblazers – I put the Trailblazers here on the assumption they can somehow stay healthy. If they do, they have the weapons to make a serious run.

4.) Oklahoma City Thunder – The Northwest Division is the NBA’s best and my 2-4 teams could really go in any order. Kevin Durant is itching to take over “league’s best player” status, and he might just do it this season.

5.) San Antonio Spurs – This starting lineup is ancient, but those players, that coach … I just trust them more than the Mavericks. George Hill and DeJuan Blair give them some fresh legs off the bench.

6.) Dallas Mavericks – Another aging team, but still very talented. We’ll see if Caron Butler, Shawn Marion, and Brendan Haywood can find their roles.

7.) Houston Rockets – Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin bring tons of fire-power to the backcourt and if Yao Ming can actually give the Rockets the 24 minutes per game they’re looking for, this could be a dangerous team.

8.) Phoenix Suns – Two words – Steve Nash. If I had any confidence Carmelo Anthony was staying with the Nuggets, I’d have left the Suns out. Nash can will this team to the playoffs.

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