In the previous column, I discussed
the final four teams from the
Western Conference and what to
expect next season. This time, I’ll
cover the top teams in the Eastern
The East has been riddled with
poor teams and marginal talent for
the past several years, allowing
teams with mediocre records to get
into the playoffs. The conference
has been top-heavy, with only a
handful of very good teams. With
some new contenders this year,
perhaps parity will finally come to
the East in the coming seasons.
Miami –
The Heat,
love them
or hate
they’re here to stay.
They accomplished
a great feat this year,
relying on the starstudded
trio of Lebron
James, Dwyane Wade
and Chris Bosh. As
they draft young
contributors and develop
more chemistry,
they’ll only continue to improve as a
team. That spells trouble for the entire
league. Miami will be a force to reckon
with for years to come.
Chicago – The Bulls had
the look of a champion
as the regular season
ended. Led by MVP Derrick
Rose, they had the chemistry and
star power to succeed in the playoffs.
However, as the games intensified, the
Bulls became a one-man army of Rose
running isolation plays and trying to
do everything himself. The Bulls will
remain highly competitive, but until
they learn to play together in the postseason,
they may be doomed to second
place each year behind the Heat.
Boston – Celtics fans
hope their beloved team
will find a way back to
the post-season next
year, but with three of
their four stars a collective 103 years
of age, the window of opportunity
for Boston may be closing. They’ll
still be in the playoffs, but they may
not be a legitimate title contender
again until they reload.
Orlando – Dwight
Howard can only
do so much, and the
additions of Gilbert
Arenas and Hedo
Turkoglu proved not to be enough to
give them a legitimate title shot this
year. As long as they have Howard,
Orlando will continue to compete
in the East; but his contract is up in
2012 and if the Magic doesn’t find
some help for Howard soon, they
may lose him.
The Rest – The Atlanta Hawks
will continue to compete, but Joe
Johnson looks like one of those
players who can get you to the second
round of the playoffs but never
further. New York has a chance to
build on their exciting combination
of Carmelo Anthony and Amare
Stoudemire. They’ll be back next
season, but can they get enough
help around them to truly be competitive?
Philadelphia was a nice
story this season, but they remain
in rebuilding mode for the time
being. Indiana showed promise
and has some young pieces to build
on. If they can get some consistent
backcourt scoring, they should
improve next season.
Some teams in the East that could
take the next step include: the
Bucks, with Brandon Jennings and
Andrew Bogut; the Pistons have
a chance to develop a great young
big man in Greg Monroe; the Nets
should improve with a full season
of Deron Williams at the point;
and maybe the Wizards improve
with emerging superstar John Wall
running the offense.
Brandon Niles has done online
freelance writing since 2007. A
Communication Studies graduate
student at the University of North
Carolina Greensboro, Niles is also
an avid Miami Dolphins fan, which
has led to his becoming an avid
Scotch whisky fan over the past
decade. He’d love to visit Montana
one day.