As for the NBA discussion:
The most likely scenario is the Lakers vs the Cavs. My prediction is that the winner of the NBA Finals will be whoever ends up with homecourt advantage. Why? Because of the 2-3-2 finals format that greatly favors the team with the better record. The teams are even enough that nobody is likely to win three in a row, which is what the team with the worse record has to do (in addition to stealing one of the first two games) to avoid playing two straight closeout games on the road. In the last 10 years, the only teams to win without homecourt are the Detroit Pistons ('04) and the Miami Heat ('06). The format is a huge reason that there are almost never game 7s in the NBA Finals.
Here is an article written last year that goes into this phenomenon in greater detail, if you are interested:http://www.vegasexperts.com/articles/Ha ... etball.asp
All that being said, Lakers are still the team to beat. They might be able to beat Cleveland without home court, but my guess is that Cleveland NEEDS to have four games at home to have a real shot at beating LA.
Of course, there are still other teams in the mix:
-The Magic still match up well against Cleveland, but the additions of Shaq to guard Howard and length on the perimeter (with Parker, Moon, Williams) have mitigated some of the main things that Orlando was able to do last year (not to mention that they lost a 6-10 playmaker in Hedo). On the offensive end, the addition of Jamison and Shaq have really opened up the Cavs offense from the Lebron isos of last year. Still, the Magic are the deepest team in the league and are capable of either raining down a barrage of threes or having Howard do his Superman impression on any given night.
-The Nuggets have a legitimate superstar, tons of firepower, and a good bit of grit. Their weakness is frontcourt depth...after Nene, KMart, and Anderson (all of whom are both injury and foul-prone) they don't really have anyone.
-Dallas looks scary...they are deep, talented at multiple positions, and experienced. That trade was just awesome.
-Utah...they are going to miss giving away Ronnie Brewer for nothing.
-Celtics...just look too old and banged up to survive four grueling playoff rounds. Still have the talent though for sure.
-Hawks...match up fantastically against the Celtics but terribly against Orlando and CLeveland.