The east is ruled by one man and one man only. We all know who that man is. Since 06-07, LeBron Raymone James has been to the eastern conference finals 9 times, with a record of 8-1. I bet you can count on one hand how many times you've seen that stat before. It's rarely mentioned, because we only like bringing up negativity. No one wants to bring up 8-1, but almost everyone is quick to bring up 3-5. But I digress from my point. Bron has dominated the east like no one before him. Not even Mike can claim that he ruled the east like LeBron has. The dominance has been so consistent, we've become jaded by it. Just another season for The King. Well, get ready for just another season from The King, because LeBron James is headed back to the Eastern Conference Finals, and The NBA Finals. Deal with it. To me, this is a foregone conclusion, but I'll indulge you, and find some way to make the eastern conference seem somewhat interesting. If I can accomplish that, I'm one of the greatest writers of all time.
Here goes nothing.
1. Boston Celtics
'17-'18 record 53-29
I know what you're thinking. "B, you talked all that trash about Bron dominating the east and then pick Boston to get the number one seed?" Yeah, I sure did. It's not that Boston is the superior team, it's that LeBron understands the end game. While The King and the Cavs are getting ready for the postseason, the Celtics will be trying to prove how great they are all season long, while trying to secure home court for the eastern conference playoffs. Boston's newest star, 25 year old phenom Kyrie Irving, will be hell bent on proving his detractors wrong. He'll be joined by former Utah Jazz star Gordon Heyward. Al Horford is the only returning starter from last year's squad, but Danny Ainge has all the confidence in the world that head coach Brad Stevens will have this revamped Celtics team winning in no time.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
'17-'18 record 52-30
A LeBron led team has a shot to win anywhere, so home court won't be high on the priority list this season. In fact, The King is much more successful as a 2 seed than as a 1 seed. His only conference finals loss was when the Cavs were the top seed in 2009, when they faced a dominant Dwight Howard led Orlando Magic squad. The Cavs will get their new teammates( Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Derrick Rose, Ante Zizic, and Jeff Green) acclimated to playing with Bron, and they may experience some growing pains early on. Thomas won't be ready for the start of the season, which means D. Rose will be the starting PG at least until the All Star break. The Cavs have a lot to work on this season, but when April arrives, The King and his Cavs will be ready as always. I'm expecting James to reach his 8th consecutive Finals, and 9th overall.
3. Washington Wizards
'17-'18 record 50-32
John Wall claims to be the best two way point guard in the league. He might be right, and he'll have 82 chances to prove it. The Wizards' roster has a great mixture of young talent and seasoned vets. Wall and sharpshooter Bradley Beal form arguably the best backcourt in the east, while Marcin Gortat, Markieff Morris, and Otto Porter, Jr make up a formidable front line. The Wizards lack of depth beyond the starting five will ultimately be their demise. As great as coach Scott Brooks is, it's very difficult to coach fatigued players. The Wizards ran out of gas last year in the second round, and the starting five might be running on fumes again when playoff time comes around in April.
4. Toronto Raptors
'17-'18 record 48-34
The Toronto Raptors will do what they've been doing for almost five years now; look like a contender in the regular season, and then totally fall apart at the seams come playoff time. There's something about the bright lights of the postseason that rattles the raptors, Kyle Lowry in particular. Can the raptors exorcise their playoff demons and make a deep run? I'll take NO for a thousand, Alex.
5. Milwaukee Bucks
'17-'18 record 48-34
The Bucks made great strides last season, even with Jabari Parker going down with another ACL injury. Rising superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo had a breakout year, leading the bucks in every statistical category. The Greek Freak won Most Improved Player of the year. Malcolm Brogden snatched ROY honors, and young phenom Thon Maker found his way into the rotation late in the season. Kris Middelton, Tony Snell, and Mizra Teletovic provide outside shooting, and Greg Monroe and John Henson will anchor the middle. Coach Jason Kidd will look for improvement from his young squad, and if Parker is healthy, many teams will fear the deer.
6. Miami Heat
'17-'18 record 45-37
Head coach Eric Spoelstra had one of his finest seasons of his career. Embarking on the first season of the post Dwyane Wade era, the heat started poorly. Midway through the season, Miami had a 13-31 record, and the playoffs seemed like a no go. But something clicked. The heat players rallied, going on an impressive 13 game winning streak. Miami literally turned their season around, finishing the second half with a 28-10 record, ending the year at 41-41 and barely missing the playoffs. The heat feature a fairly decent starting five. Dion Waiters is a legit 20 ppg scorer, Whiteside is a formidable presence in the paint on both ends, and the addition of Kelly Olynyk gives Miami that stretch four that they've needed since they shut down Chris Bosh.
7. Charlotte Hornets
'17-'18 record 43-39
Dwight Howard is obsolete in today's NBA. The sad part is, he doesn't even know it. Now on his 4th team in 5 years, Dwight looks to reestablish himself as a force with the hornets. What he should focus on is reinventing himself. It's time for Dwight to try to be more like Tyson Chandler, because the days of trying to be like Shaq are long gone. PG Kemba Walker will do his best to keep Charlotte in the playoff mix, but the lack of shooting(Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) will hinder any chances of truly making a run. Charlotte should focus on the defensive end, where Howard and Gilchrist could shine.
8. Philadelphia 76ers
'17-'18 record 41-41
There's a buzz going around in the City of Brotherly Love. The FEDS(Fultz, Embiid, Dario, Simmons) are coming! Joel proved that he was a problem in the 31 games he played last season. If Simmons and Fultz are as advertised, watch out. Add veteran long range sniper JJ Reddick and a confident Robert Covington, and you're looking at a team that could be a threat much sooner than we think.
9. Detroit Pistons
'17-'18 record 40-42
Stan Van Gundy is having a hard time getting his team to play his brand of ball. The struggle will continue this season as well.
10. Orlando Magic
'17-'18 record 35-47
The Magic haven't made any improvements, and the result will be another lackluster regular season and an early start to summer vacation. Marreeese Speights will get buckets, though.
11. Indiana Pacers
'17-'18 record 29-53
The Paul George era is over, and so are the Pacers chances of reaching the postseason.
12. New York Knicks
'17-'18 record 28-54
Phil Jackson is gone, but Carmelo Anthony isn't. The embattled superstar has been getting disrespected all last year and this summer. SI recently ranked Melo below Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball. While that will motivate Melo to get busy, it won't be enough to make any waves with this roster, even with Porzingis returning. Hopefully, Melo will be moved soon, and the knicks can focus on something they're so accustomed to; which is rebuilding.
13. Atlanta Hawks
'17-'18 record 25-57
3 years ago, the hawks won 60 games and were the number one seed in the east. Fast forward to 2017. Damn.
14. Chicago Bulls
'17-'18 record 20-62
Once Wade gets his check, he's gone like Uncle Elroy from Next Friday. The Bulls are starting over.
15. Brooklyn Nets
'17-'18 record 17-65
Hey, D'Angelo Russell! This is what you get for snitching.
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