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ESPN Insider favor please


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Since we didn't get to respond to your emails last week I figured we jump right in this week and see what's on your mind.


Chris in Atlanta asks,

Hey Greg, I have one question for you: How come you don't show the Miami Heat any love at all? I remember you saying Philly was going to get the 8th spot when they were struggling and on their way down. Do you think differently now that the Heat beat them by 32? Come on Greg, show the Heat some love.


A: Chris, I'll do more than just show them some love. They have been amazing, and I can't say enough about the job Stan Van Gundy has done with this team after they started 0-7. It shows what hard work and belief in what you're trying to do can lead to.



Lamar Odom


Miami Heat






69 17.0 9.8 4.4 .420 .738

Eddie Jones and Lamar Odom, who has really become the star everyone thought he would be, have been spectacular. Dwyane Wade would be rookie of the year in any of the past three years (except this one), and a kid by the name of Rafer Alston has really figured it out as a point guard in this league and has provided some stability at the point.


Brian Grant and Udonis Haslem are undersized and have been asked to do a great deal in terms of defending the paint, but this team goes nowhere without their contributions. The future looks extremely bright in South Beach right now. I'm making plans to be there for the playoffs.


Adam from Livonia, Mich., asks,

Greg, who do you think is a better team, the Pistons or the Pacers?


A: Tough question. I've believed all along a team like the Pistons was one player away from being a legitimate title contender, and Rasheed Wallace seems to be that player.



Mehmet Okur


Detroit Pistons






61 9.7 6.3 1.0 .460 .785

Defensively, they are better than any team in the league, because they have no weaknesses. The Brothers' Wallace have the unique ability to guard both the paint and perimeter, plus they play great help defense and block shots. Detroit also has great depth, with Mehmet Okur and Corliss Williamson giving great support on the front line.


With all that being said, the one area of concern I have for both the Pistons and the Pacers is that neither generates a lot of easy baskets. Both are near the bottom of the league in fast-break points. That is the only thing I see holding either back from potentially hoisting the trophy in June.


The only other issue with Detroit is how they will respond if and when things stop clicking and they face a little adversity. Will Rasheed be able to control his emotions? It has to be a legitimate concern moving forward. That being said, I think it's a toss-up, because both teams are for real, and both can win it all.


Kyle from Columbus, Ohio, writes,


Devean George

Small Forward

Los Angeles Lakers






70 7.8 4.4 1.4 .405 .772

As a Lakers fan, I'm always excited about this time of year and really start to focus on the playoff picture. I'm well aware that chemistry is a glaring issue for this team. However, I think a bigger concern is the production of Derek Fisher and Devean George. They have to be more consistent, don't you think?


A: I concur, Kyle. Throw Rick Fox in the mix, as well. It has been proven time and time again that your role players hold the key to winning championships. You typically get what's expected from your best players, but the production from the peripheral pieces determines who will hoist that trophy come June.


Mike Kreft from Fort Dodge, Iowa, writes,

During the Tim Duncan injury, several Spurs put up above-average numbers. With Rasho Nesterovic breaking out, the rest of the Spurs' confidence higher and Duncan returning, does this get the Spurs out of the West?



Rasho Nesterovic


San Antonio Spurs






71 8.7 7.9 1.3 .456 .473

A: I have to admit I didn't think the Spurs could win it all again this year, but their team is really playing well, and it's all because of guys like Nesterovic and Hedo Turkoglu, who have really elevated their play of late.


Getting out of the west will be difficult, because Minnesota (although struggling), L.A. and Sacramento will be tough, and you have to watch out for a team like Memphis early in the playoffs. But I've learned to never count Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich out. These guys are winners and won't go down without a fight.


Thanks for the e-mail, and keep them coming. Like all of you, I'm getting pretty excited to see who's in and who's out.

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