It’s about a quarter of the way through the season and the Eastern Conference has become quite competitive. Let’s take a look at the teams and try to predict where they are headed.
The Best Team
Milwaukee Bucks – With the addition of Grayson Allen the Bucks are better than last year’s champions. They are battle tested and if they can get healthy are the best team in the conference.
A Shade Below the Bucks
Brooklyn Nets – The Nets have come up short against the three best teams, Milwaukee, Phoenix and Golden State but they are Kyrie Irving away from being equal to those teams.
Miami Heat – The Heat can defend and are a tough group. The will be a tough out that nobody wants to play in the playoffs. Do they have enough firepower to beat the big boys?
Atlanta Hawks – Plenty of offense and depth and are beginning to come on. It seems like they lack consistency as evidenced by their home loss to the Knicks.
Philadelphia 76ers – Don’t forget they opened the season eight and two before Embiid went down. If they can stay healthy and resolve the Ben Simmons situation positively, look out.
Good, but Not Good Enough
Chicago Bulls – Much improved though struggling now. The Bulls have plenty of firepower with DeRozan, Levine and Vucevic. They also have one of the best role players in the league in Caruso.
Washington Wizards – The Wizards have vastly improved defensively and by dealing Westbrook picked up Kuzma, Pope and Harrell. In addition they signed Dinwiddie in the offseason. Put those players with Beal and it gives you a vastly improved team.
A Player Short, Probable Play-In Teams
NY Knicks – They don’t seem to be meshing well. They still play hard and can defend on most nights. A candidate for a trade before the deadline.
Boston Celtics – Up and down like the Knicks, not meshing. A tough team to figure out. How long to you stay patient before breaking up Tatum, Brown and Smart?
Charlotte Hornets – An interesting team, they have beaten Brooklyn and Golden State while losing to Houston and Sacramento.
Just Short of the Playoffs
Cleveland Cavaliers – If they stay healthy they are tough. With Mobley and Garland around the Cavs have a great future.
Indiana Pacers – A lot of good parts but something is missing. Another team that should be in the trade market. Like Toronto need someone who can be a consistent go to player down the stretch
Toronto Raptors – Nick Nurse, a good coach, does a nice job getting Toronto to play hard. Like Indiana they need a go to player to bring them home at the end of the game.
There is Always Next Year
Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons
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