After the most hyped off-season of all-time the regular season has a big act to follow-up. Now that all off the signing, spending, drafting and ESPN-sponsored/street hype is over with, it’s time to do what it’s all about: take to the court and settle it.
For many years, the East has been considered the little brother that is rightfully beat up by the much bigger and stronger West. However, after this summer’s events, the little brother looks like it has followed Hulk Hogan’s commandments AND ate their Wheaties and are ready to fight back now with vengeance. Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer have crossed over, and (in the words of Kobe himself) “the Heat have formed Voltron“. All of this before factoring in a Boston team that pushed the champs to the limit last year. In other words, the East is ready, but is it just a matter of all the cream going to the top? Or is there some depth to the West on all year across the board.
In the first part of the CHEAP SEATS NBA preview, we’re looking at the Eastern Conference. Tomorrow the West, Playoffs and Awards preview will follow. The number in (parentheses) is the predicted finish in the conference for each squad and playoff teams are in bold.
- Chicago Bulls (3)
- Milwaukee Bucks (5)
- Indiana Pacers (9)
- Detroit Pistons (10)
- Cleveland Cavaliers (14)
Summary: This is a division with almost every team as been completely made over. For the last few years, everything has run through Cleveland, but with LeBron riding out of town, that’s going change immediately. The Bulls missed out on the top of the globe free agents, but may have made themselves better overall by spreading the wealth & making a team around in-house starstar-in-training Derrick Rose….No team made more subtle changes than the Bucks and they will be a match up problem for nearly every team they face. With there is no more complete starting 5 in the division….Darren Collinson will give the Pacers the PG they have desperately needed, but will they have the size they need to complete? Danny Granger can’t do everything, but gets damn close….The Pistons are still in the midst of a prolonged & weird rebuilding, and probably will be making several changes in season attempting to move pricey vets Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. The sooner the better, because Rodney Stuckey, and first round….The Cavaliers will be exposed for being exactly what caused LeBron to leave, being a collection of role players with no go-to threat. There’s still talent here, but it’s not having a true big threat scorer (Jamison is not that anymore) and a thin bench will sink their ship much sooner than later.
All Division Team // C: Andrew Bogut-MIL, PF:Carlos Boozer-CHI, SF-Danny Granger-IND, SG-John Salmons-MIL, PG: Derrick Rose-CHI
- Boston Celtics (2)
- New York Knicks (8)
- New Jersey Nets (11)
- Philadelphia 76ers (12)
- Toronto Raptors (15)
Summary: This has been Boston’s playground for the last three years, where they have been the clear bullies of the yard, with many of the biggest bottom feeders in the league in this division. Not much will change here this year. The defending Conference champion Celtics return their entire core, and added Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal to make them one of the deepest teams in the League, if they can keep their health intact as a unit….The Knicks didn’t land their top target in the summer, but they did land Amar’e Stoudemire and essentially gave him a license to kill in the Eastern Conf, expect him to be one of the top scorers in the game, and should be enough to pull the Knicks into the playoff picture….The Nets gutted their core and brought in youth (Derrick Favors), depth (Troy Murphy, Jordan Farmer) and a proven coach (Avery Johnson) to ensure they won’t challenge for the loss record again, even him they don’t hit the playoffs yet….The Sixers have some work to do still and have an awkward roster that has too many of the same thing. Evan Turner’s the future, but they have to decide what to do with the current jams on the wing in Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young….The Raptors lost the only thing they had worth turning the TV on when Chris Bosh left, and they be playing for the Lottery all season.
All Division Team // C: Brook Lopez-NJ, PF-Amar’e Stoudemire-NY, SF: Paul Pierce-BOS, SG: Andre Iguodala-PHI, PG: Rajon Rondo-BOS
- Miami Heat (1)
- Orlando Magic (4)
- Atlanta Hawks (6)
- Charlotte Bobcats (7)
- Washington Wizards (13)
Summary: The Southeast is the Eastern Conference’s greatest battle ground, host to four playoff teams from last year. There has been no team in history that has received the hype that the Heat have coming into a season, now they have to take the nastiest three-headed monster the NBA has seen, maybe ever, on to the court and justify it….Either way you slice it, matching up nightly against Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh was tough enough individually, it’s going to be a nightmare to do it as a collective….Despite what’s happened on South Beach, up in Orlando there is still a very good and diverse Magic team, that features the most intimidating defender in the game with Dwight Howard. They will ensure the Heat will not run off and hide with the division….The Hawks bring back their entire core from last year and will look to prove their huge playoff flame out was a fluke. Last year, they could out run many Eastern teams, but they’ll have a much tougher time now, playing an equally athletic Heat team, establishing that dominance….The Bobcats were perhaps the most gritty, team-based club in all of basketball in route to making their playoff debut last season. They kept their core in place and should still be a survivor of the East….the Wizards are coming off a controversy filled season, but bring back a prize in the form of top pick John Wall, who already has taken over the team. Now they have the tougher task of rebuilding while trying to overcome some of the toughest teams in the game.
All Division Team // C: Dwight Howard-ORL, PF: Chris Bosh-MIA, SF: LeBron James-MIA, SG: Dwyane Wade-SG, PG: Jameer Nelson-ORL