(Miami Heat's Wade, James & Bosh)

*Hey, remember the NBA lockout? Remember how depressed we all were without basketball, and how we were all forced to wait ‘til Sunday to actually care about sports? Well, what else could we watch – NASCAR?

Thankfully, that’s all over. The NBA will be back in a few weeks. So, with the return approaching…here are five foolproof (or foolhardy) predictions for this upcoming NBA season.

  1. THE CELTICS ARE DONE – The AARP group is great, but they’re all getting older. An off-season of trade rumors will leave Rondo in a funk, and they have no real bench. They’ll make the playoffs, but be out early.
  2. KOBE BRYANT’S LUCK WILL RUN OUT – Bryant’s gone through most of his career without a major injury. All the miles – from the playoffs, regular season, and the Olympics – will catch up to him this year. Expect some significant injury time.
  3. THE CLIPPERS EMERGE – Blake Griffin and Co. take the next step. Expect a six seed in the playoffs and a respectable first-round loss that will lay the seeds for a bright future. Unless the nut-job Clippers owner screws it all up, of course.
  4. THE KNICKS IMPROVE – Not enough to win a title, but enough to win a playoff series, at least. Tyson Chandler, Carmelo “Melo” Anthony and Amare Stoudemire give the Knickerbockers some serious star power.
  5. THE HEAT WIN IT ALL – Provided they reinforce their bench (the signing of Shane Battier helps). This season sets up perfectly for LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.