As part of my weekly columns on Popblerd I deceded to write my initial reactions on every team in the eastern conference:
Miami Heat – They look scary good so far. They’ve had 4 blowout victories in their first 8 games and a win without Wade OR James. It also looks like they got a steal in Norris Cole. Exactly what a team with 2 of the 5 best players in the league needs, to get really lucky in the draft on top of that. Barring any long-term serious injury to their big three, they are pretty much a lock for the conference finals.
Chicago Bulls – Boozer is playing closer to what the Bulls thought they were getting last year, Rose looks even better and they were able to steal Richard Hamilton for next to nothing. The East is a two horse race this year between Miami and Chicago.
Indiana Pacers – They made some great moves in the offseason, getting David West being the best of those moves. They have a lot of good young pieces and no terrible contracts. While not contenders this year, they will be a tough out and they are in position to make some noise in the very near future.
Philadelphia 76ers – Are they rebuilding or are they trying to win now? They have a combination of young/cheap and old/expensive contracts that will be good enough to keep them in basketball purgatory: good enough for a low playoff seed but not good enough to actually contend.
Atlanta Hawks – While the 76ers are currently in basketball purgatory, the Hawks are the definition of it. They are a 4th or 5th seed and a second round out every single year and this year should be no different. They have basically the same team as last year except McGrady is in place of Crawford. Expect a 4-6 seed and a 1st or 2nd round out. Again. For the billionth year in a row.
Orlando Magic – Is Dwight Howard staying or going? That’s pretty much all you are going to hear about them this year. With Dwight they are barely a playoff team, without him they’ll stink. Lots of bad moves by their management the last couple years. They should probably get what they can now because I don’t think there’s any way Dwight stays after this season.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Two weeks in and they are above .500. Irving looks decent, just needs to cut down on the turnovers, but that’s to be expected from a rookie point guard. What’s not expected is this team winning. I wouldn’t get used to it. They’ll be coming back down to earth very soon.
New York Knicks – Some days they look like they are one of the best teams in the league and some days they look like they are getting ready for the lottery. Their two rookies Shumpert and Harrelson have been pleasant surprises, but pretty much everything else has been a disappointment. Amare and Carmelo can’t seem to play together, move the ball around, do a pick and roll or play much defense (especially Amare on the defensive end), Douglas has been terrible at the point and may have already played himself out of the position, and they have the lowest scoring bench in the NBA. It’s going to be a very up and down season in NY.
Boston Celtics – Losing Jeff Green for the season was a killer. They are very thin right now. Bass is playing better than Big Baby ever was so that trade has worked out, but this is a very old and very thin team. They’ll be a tough out in the playoffs if they can stay healthy, but that’s a HUGE if. I think their days of contention are over.
Toronto Raptors – This team isn’t going anywhere. They are in purgatory like the Hawks, but instead of a 5th seed they are a 10th - 12th seed. Just good enough to get a bad lottery pick every year.
Milwaukee Bucks – Every year I pick them to be the East dark horse team. Not this year. Sorry Milwaukee, I’m not falling for that again. Continue to play with half your roster injured and continue to underachieve. Like most of the nation, I’m done with you.
Charlotte Bobcats – One of the worst teams in the entire league. You’d have to be a huge basketball fan just to recognize the names of more than two players on this roster. This team was gutted by Jordan the last two years. I hope that was part one of his plan and he’s got something else up his sleeve, because this was a team that made the playoffs two years ago and I highly doubt they’ll even get 10 wins this year.
Detroit Pistons – If you want some examples of why there was a lockout, look no further. This team has more bad contracts on their roster than any other team. The Knicks got blown out by bottom feeders Toronto and Charlotte and even they were able to give the Pistons a 30 point beatdown. It’s going to be a long season in Detroit.
New Jersey Nets – They better pray they get Dwight in the next 6 months. If not Deron Williams would be insane to stay. I get the impression Prokhorov thought it would be easier to assemble a winning team.
Washington Wizards – The only winless team in the league at 0-8. The collective basketball IQ of this team probably would hit three digits. If you want to see dozens of boneheaded plays a game, check these guys out. I might have spoken too soon when I said the Bobcats were the worst team in the league.