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Posted: Friday June 26, 2009 2:14AM; Updated: Friday June 26, 2009 11:12AM
Ian Thomsen Ian Thomsen >
INSIDE THE NBA

Weekly countdown (cont.)

2 predictions for next season

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After so many major trades this week, here's an early look at how the conference races are shaping up for next season.

2. The East

15. New Jersey
14. Milwaukee
13. Charlotte
12. Indiana
11. Toronto
10. New York
9. Detroit
8. Chicago
7. Miami
6. Philadelphia
5. Atlanta
4. Washington
3. Boston
2. Orlando
1. Cleveland

A word of caution: The Pistons and Raptors could make moves in July to improve and move back into the playoffs.

1. The West

15. Sacramento
14. Memphis
13. Minnesota
12. L.A. Clippers
11. Phoenix
10. Oklahoma City
9. Utah
8. Golden State
7. Houston
6. New Orleans
5. Dallas
4. Portland
3. Denver
2. San Antonio
1. L.A. Lakers

Can Denver retain or replace its low-priced free agents? When will Tracy McGrady return to the Rockets, and in what kind of shape? And will Utah re-sign or successfully replace its free agents? These questions will be answered in the month ahead.

1. NBA Finals prediction

1. The Cleveland Cavaliers will meet the Los Angeles Lakers less than 12 months from now. Shaq versus Kobe, and Phil may even coach the games in Cleveland. I say Cleveland wins the title ... for now.

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