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  • Joe Keller

Joe's Top 8 in the East

The 2015-2016 NBA season is rapidly approaching, and in oncoming weeks many people will be sharing opinions and predictions on how the season will unfold. The Eastern Conference has taken a back seat to the Western Conference since the turn of the Millennium and has failed to reach the prowess that its rival conference garners.

Every year, there is one and sometimes two playoff participants in the East that stumble into the postseason with sub-.500 records while often times out West there are teams five and sometimes 10 games over .500 who fail to reach the playoffs due to the conference’s ridiculous spread of talent.

Even though the West is still much better than the East, the Eastern Conference is vastly improving and I’m predicting that there will be no teams in the postseason with a sub-.500 record. It’s sad that that would be news worthy but that’s how bad the East has been in recent years. Here is how the more competitive East should shake up.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

*Photo via USA Today

No surprise last year’s Eastern Conference champs will be number one. Practically the same roster is returning along with the addition of guard Mo Williams who will take some of the load off Kyrie Irving, who may miss some time during the beginning of the season. What it boils down to with the Cavs and the East, if you have LeBron you’re going to be the favorite.

2. Chicago Bulls

*Photo via USA Today

Same story different season for the Bulls as Derrick Rose is already injured, good thing he’s expected to return to basketball activities in a couple weeks. With new head coach Fred Hoiberg expected to overhaul an inconsistent offense, if they can sustain the elite defense from the Tom Thibodeau andministration they’ll be the top contenders to dethrone ‘King James’.

3. Atlanta Hawks

*Photo via USA Today

The Hawks surprised everyone last year with their 62-win season. While they will be a contender, I can’t see them enjoying the same success as last year. It’ll be tough to replace DeMarre Carroll and this team struggled towards the end of last season and postseason which poses the question that maybe last year’s play was an anomaly.

4. Toronto Raptors

*Photo via

The Raptors improved this offseason by adding DeMarre Carroll. Carroll gives this team much needed toughness, but it’ll be tough figuring out which of the forward spots will suit him and the team best.

They would like to build on their regular season success of last year and be recognized as a contender, but they’ll need to prove they can show up in the postseason to take the next step.

5. Miami Heat

*Photo via USA Today

The Heat have one of the best starting lineups on paper and a much-needed improved bench to boot. They could once again contend. However, that all depends on the health of Dwayne Wade, and other aging supporting cast members, but with Chris Bosh coming back the Heat should find themselves back in postseason play.

6. Milwaukee Bucks

*Photo via

Last season’s surprise team improved this offseason by landing center Greg Monroe to give them a scoring punch down low and last years second overall pick Jabari Parker returns.

This team is super young and super talented and they have one of the best defenses in the league; however, after they traded Brandon Knight they somewhat fell off. The improvement of Michael Carter-Williams is pivotal to this team’s success.

7.Washington Wizards

*Photo via USA Today

Other than John Wall and Bradly Beal I’m not in love with the roster. There’s a major question mark about the small forward position with Paul Pierce leaving, which gives Otto Porter the chance to prove why he was a lottery pick a few years ago.

The Wizards thrived in the postseason with Pierce playing the power forward spot. If newly acquired Jared Dudley can fill that role, perhaps the Wiz Kids can build upon their offensive awakening in the 2015 playoffs.

8. Indiana Pacers

*Photo via Getty Images

This isn’t the Pacers of 2013 contending for a Finals spot. There has been a night-and-day transition to their identity from years past. They shipped center Roy Hibbert to the Los Angeles Lakers and David West left for the San Antonio Spurs.

Signing Monta Ellis should help the sometimes-stagnant Pacers offense and allow them to play up-tempo. Indiana will reportedly have All-Star Paul George play the four spot. How he performs and how the center position contributes will be crucial factors in whether the Pacers will finish toward the bottom of the East or regain their elite 2013 status.

Landon's Top 8 in the West

#NBA #East #Playoffs #JoeKeller

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