I know we are only two weeks into the NBA Season at this time, but it’s never too early to predict this years playoff teams. From this offseason we can already tell the West will be a dogfight, but I think the East will have some surprising teams. So here’s what I have for the Eastern Conference playoff teams:
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Its hard to go against the team who represented this conference last year and has LeBron James. They also spent some big bucks in the offseason to lock up some key players, such as Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love, and of course LeBron James. The Cavs have started off strong and with Kyrie joining midseason, they will just get better and better.
- Atlanta Hawks: Every year this team seems to blow people away and I don’t see anything different happening. Their defense is lethal and with Horford and Millsap down low, the floor will be spread. Three point shooting and defense will be the key to success for a very athletic Hawks team.
- Miami Heat: After a disappointing season last year, the Heat will be seeking a return to the playoffs. A healthy Chris Bosh down low to go with the best bargain in sports, Hassan Whiteside will be hard to matchup against. This team is deeper than ever, which will allow Wade to preserve his knees over a long season and make an impact all year long.
- Toronto Raptors: Many people aren’t paying attention to the “team up North,” but with DeRozan and Lowry leading the backcourt, I expect some big things from the Raptors. Both these players are carrying a heavy load early on with Jonas Valanciunas and DeMarre Carroll chipping in along the way to keep the Raptors a contender.
- Detroit Pistons: If you haven’t seen Andre Drummond play this year, you are missing history in the making! The big man is averaging 20 points and 20 rebounds through the first 6 games. Marcus Morris is also playing well with his new team and Reggie Jackson is averaging 10 more points than last year with his extended playing time. I could even see Markieff joining his twin later in the season. Watch out for those Pistons!!
- Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose survived another injury in the offseason and I’m beginning to wonder how much this man can take. A new coach and emerging stars in Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic will have to pick up the reins for this team to compete for a top spot in the conference.
- Indiana Pacers: All I’ve got to say is welcome back Paul George! After a gruesome leg injury it is great to see him playing like a star again. I see him carrying this team with an MVP like season and some well needed help coming from Monta Ellis and George Hill.
- Orlando Magic: The race for the 8th seed will come down to the wire between Orlando, Washington, and Boston. YES I have chosen Orlando, as I think this is finally the year in which their young stars shine. Elfrid Payton, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris and Victor Oladipo are ready for the bright lights! Plus Evan Fournier has been a great surprise- so the Magic are my Cinderella story this year, but just barely!
When it comes down to the playoffs, I see all the series coming down to the wire and any seed with the chance to have a huge upset. I just hope that we can see LeBron James and the Cavs face off against Dwayne Wade and the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals!!
I will be putting up my Western Conference predictions next week so stay tuned!