The International Blogtable: Surprise!


Every week, the International Blogtable brings together some of the best basketball minds from around the world, posing a burning question to writers and editors from the NBA's fleet of international web destinations. It's a BIG world, after all.


The Heat look destined to make their third straight trip to the NBA Finals, and the Thunder look like a favorite out West. But what team will surprise people in the postseason this year?
Pawel Weszka
Editor, NBA Africa

The Golden State Warriors. After missing the Playoffs last year, the Warriors have been the revelation of this regular season. And the brightest shining star on that team has been Stephen Curry. Playing the role of the teamís heart and soul, the seventh-leading scorer in the NBA this season has been at his best from distance, shooting an incredible 45 percent from behind the arc.

A first round match-up with the Nuggets -- who are struggling with injuries -- is highly probable and Golden State may be in a position to take advantage of both Danilo Gallinariís absence and Denverís uncertainty over Ty Lawsonís status. With the Warriors ranking first in the NBA in three-point shooting, the potential showdown with the Nuggets promises to be a high-octane scoring affair. The true test for the Warriors will come in the upcoming games closing their regular season, when they will still have to face the Thunder, Lakers and the Spurs.
Adriano Albuquerque
Blogger, NBA Brasil

If you consider that the only REAL favorites are Miami, San Antonio and OKC, then the New York Knicks have to be the most dangerous team outside of that. But, if you're willing to throw the Knicks in the mix as a title contender, then my "surprise" team would be the Memphis Grizzlies. Since trading Rudy Gay for Tayshaun Prince, they became a superior defensive team and a very smooth machine. They remind me some of the Detroit Pistons of 2004, immediately after they picked up Rasheed Wallace. They have what it takes to knock out the Clippers in the first round and beat either Denver, OKC or San Antonio later on.
Hanson Guan
Editor, NBA China

The Nuggets.They are a talented team with bench strength. They have done well over the latter half of the season. And last Thursday, Denver picked up a narrow 95-94 victory over the Mavericks, thanks to Andre Iguodala's crucial game-winner. Despite Danilo Gallinari being sidelined for the rest of the season after tearing his ACL, the Nuggets further proved their point by smashing the Rockets, 132-114 and holding firmly to third place in the Western Conference. They've amassed 19 wins in their past 21 games, including a 15-game unbeaten run, a record that is unparalleled in team history.

In the absence of a real superstar, Denver could still make its way into Playoffs and stand out in a highly competitive Western Conference.
Haruka Gruber

Golden State. Superstar (Curry), double-double machine (Lee), future All Star (Thompson), emerging defensive center (Bogut) and solid bench: sounds like a threat for Gallo-less Nuggets -- and maybe even the Thunder?
Eduardo Schell
Editor, NBA EspaŮa

I wouldn't have picked GSW at the beginning of the season, with all the injuries and the slow start. But they play smart and are fun to watch. So they're my surprise.
Stefanos Triantafyllos
Editor, NBA Greece

Old dogs cannot learn new tricks, but on the other hand, you can't write 'em off either. The Celtics, even without the injured Rajon Rondo, can do a lot of damage in the Playoffs. Paul Pierce is one of the best clutch players in the league, Kevin Garnett is a proven leader who still has few gallons of gas left in his tank and Jason Terry is known for his heroics. They are a solid tough and experienced team, they have one of the best coaches (Doc Rivers) around and a classic rivalry ahead of them (Knicks?). Not only they are the team most likely to land an upset in the first round of the Playoffs, but also the one with the mentality and the toughness to go a long way, as their players know their way around the post-season.
Akshay Manwani
Blogger, NBA India

I will stick my neck out and go with Denver. As it is, the Nuggets have done better than expected by making their way to the top half of the Western Conference Playoffs teams after a 17-15 start to the season where they played 22 of their first 32 games on the road. Yes, the injury to Danilo Gallinari is a big setback, but with two of San Antonioís big guns struggling with injury, OKCís sixth-man, Kevin Martin, no longer resembling James Hardenís mirror image and the LA Clippers caught in a funk, the race for the West is wide open. Even without Gallinari, the Nuggets have players Ė Andre Iguodala, Wilson Chandler and Corey Brewer Ė who coach George Karl can extract quality minutes from.

Further, not only do the Nuggets have a 3-1 record against the Thunder this regular season, but should San Antonio slip to No. 2 in the West standings, there is more chance of a younger, faster Denver team sticking it to the Spurs than the other way around.
Davide Chinellato
Editor, NBA Italia

I think the Nuggets could be the surprise team this year. They are deep, they have a great, experienced coach in George Karl. Their bench is awesome and productive. Theyíve lost Danilo Gallinari to a season-ending injury, but Wilson Chandler and Corey Brewer are ready to step up and give what Gallo usually gives them. Obviously they need to have Ty Lawson as close as possible to 100 percent to go deep into the Playoffs. If they improve on the road (they are 18-21 away compared to an NBA-best 35-3 at Pepsi Center) they can go to the West Final. Unless Oklahoma City finishes second in the conference and the Nuggets have to face the Thunder in the semifinals.
SelÁuk Aytekin
Editor, NBA Turkiye

The Nuggets!! If Denver has Ty Lawson back at full strength, I believe they can beat any team in the West.

Even with Gallianari done for the season, they still have Iguodala and Brewer to stop the best two teams in the West.

With Lawson, Kenneth Faried, Kosta Koufos, JaVale McGee, Corey Brewer, Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller and Wilson Chandler all playing key roles for Denverís successÖ

Even the 20-year-old French guard Evan Fournier has been playing spectacularly Ö

So donít miss Nuggetís games in Playoffs.