nbaBetween the Spring Carnival, mid-term elections, interest rate rise and the baseball world series. You would be well within your rights to have not noticed the NBA season kick off early last week.

The 2010-2011 season is hugely important for the future of the NBA. Current club salary bills are too large and unsustainable, leading to NBA commissioner David Stern stating that the league needs to slash total salary payments by $750-$800 million from the current payments of roughly $2.3 billion per year.

Players unions aren’t all that happy about this and the possibility of a postponed start to the 2011-2012 season remains genuine, after the current collective bargaining agreement ends in June.

For now, the most exciting action is on the court. The first week has been a cracker, even by NBA standards. Only three teams remain undefeated — Atlanta, New Orleans and the LA Lakers.The Lakers dominant start is interesting given that they have been noted slow starters in recent years.

Speculation that the star studded Miami line up might finish 82-0 was scuttled on night one when Boston defeated them in a performance that had critics rethinking their Lakers-Miami script.  But the Heat didn’t stay down for long and their 129-97 demolition of Minnesota on Tuesday was nothing short of scary. Much will depend on how their defence stacks up against the best sides, because they have no trouble racking up big scores.

On Australian watch our number one gun Andrew Bogut has been impressive in an unimpressive Milwaukee Bucks start to the year. Most expect the Bucks to make the playoffs, but they have struggled with a 1-3 start and a tough stretch of games to come. Patty Mills has been making the most of very limited minutes at Portland. And David Andersen might have found his niche off the bench at Toronto as the Raptors started the year 1-2.

It’s still early days but the predicted teams to beat before the season — Miami, the Lakers, Boston and Orlando, still look like the teams to beat. Luckily for the Lakers they are the only side of those four in the western conference and barring injury can expect a relatively comfortable ride to the finals.  Teams that have also impressed early have been Atlanta, New Orleans, Utah, Portland, New Jersey and Dallas.

Follow this link to check a snapshot of what the ‘experts’ at nba.com have predicted for the season.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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