The Eastern conference has been mocked for years about how shallow it is but that may not be the case this year. The 76ers and Bucks look to clash in the conference finals. Boston, Brooklyn and Miami look to make a leap this year thanks to their free agency moves and the rest of the conference is clawing for those last three spots.
It’s going to be one hell of a fight for the crown of the East and I’ll break down what I think it’s going to look like after all is said and done.
1 Seed - Philadelphia 76ers: Personally, I don’t think the Sixers got all that better, I just don’t think Milwaukee will win 60 games again. I like the massive lineup they’ve developed, I especially love how focused Joel Embiid is and I think this team could finally win the East this year. It really falls on point guard Ben Simmons and if he’ll take that next step and shoot jumpers.
2 Seed: Milwaukee Bucks: I really like the Bucks, so much I think they will win the East this year. This seeding has more to do with the team not gunning for that top spot like they did last year. The loss of Malcom Brogdon isn’t the worst situation but as long as Giannis Antetokounmpo keeps growing, this team will be a top threat in the East.
3 Seed: Brooklyn Nets: It’s tough to separate the three-six seeds in the East since most of them are around the same level of talent and coaching. You could make an argument that any of these teams could win 45-52 games and take the three seed. I’m going to ride with the Nets, a team that has the better star on their team than the three below them. The Nets have a lot of solid pieces around Kyrie Irving who’ll thrive with him on the court and if Kevin Durant makes any appearance this year, the 3 Seed might just be locked up for them.
4 seed: Boston Celtics: This is a big season for Boston. After years of stocking up assets, the Celtics failed to acquire Anthony Davis, Paul George, Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard in trades. They got Kyrie Irving but the fact he left made it a failure. The Celtics have a bunch of talented young players to go along with their veterans. The team’s big free agent this year, Kemba Walker, should help them stay in contention for a playoff spot but the loss of Al Horford will hurt. The key for this team is if the young guys can flourish as the stars and if Gordon Hayward can come back to his All-star form?
5 seed: Miami Heat: I love the move by Miami to bring in Jimmy Butler. The team has been struggling to get that big money free agent but they were able to snatch Butler and there might not be a player who fits Miami’s culture better than him. The Heat have some nice pieces to play around, including former Suns Goran Dragic and top five head coach Eric Sposltra Jr. They aren’t that deep but I expect we’re going to see the best version of Butler this season and that will seperate them for between the middle of the pack.
6 seed: Toronto Raptors: The loss of Kawhi Leonard will be impossible for the Raptors to deal with but they’ll still be competitive. Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka are great veterans that will help ease the rebuild in Toronto. The growth of Pascal Siakam will be vital since without his growth, the Raptors could easily end up on the outside looking in. I expect Siakam to play like he was in the finals, maybe not putting up a lot of points but playing excellent basketball.
7 seed: Orlando Magic: Orlando is an interesting team. They don’t have a big name player but they’ve been going into the right direction recently, making the playoffs last year and getting a win over the future champion Raptors. Freshly signed center Nikola Vucevic had a career year last year, averaging 20 ppg and 12 rpg and Aaron Gordon has been making strides since he was drafted. Also, their 2018 sixth overall pick Mo Bamba will be healthy this year, adding more talent to this team. I don’t think they’ll win 60 games but 40-42 wins is enough to sneak into the postseason.
8 seed: Indiana Pacers: I really like the Pacers and what they’re building. If it wasn’t for the fact that Victor Oladipo would be returning in the middle of the season at the earliest, I would put them in the top three of the East. They have great chemistry and I love Myles Turner and the move to get Malcom Brogdon. They could make a run in the second half of the season when Oladipo returns but we don’t know when that is.
For years we’ve mocked the East. But this year, it looks like the East will be a lot of fun to watch.
Though it might be a two team race in the Eastern Conference at the moment, there’s definitely a lot of teams that will do great this year and fight for deep runs in the playoffs.
Where would the Suns fall in the East? I think they wouldn’t be good enough to crack the top eight but definitely would be fighting for a spot, around ninth or 10th place.
What do you say, Suns fans?