Eastern Conference Playoff Contenders
BostonLet's face it, losing Ray Allen hurts. Especially to your number one competition, but look for the green machine to once again be battling for the Eastern conference title. The bulk of last years team has returned along with veteran guard Jason Terry who has joined the team through free agency, this veteran team again has the team to win it all. Watch for the new rookies Fab Melo and Jarred Sullinger to have an impact as this older team looks to give it one last shot.... again!
BrooklynAs the great man Jay-Z would say "Hellooooooo Brooklyn!" This team is no longer the lowly New Jersey Nets, and is now the newly reformed Brooklyn Nets. With Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace forming a formidable foundation, look for the Nets to get off to a much improved start compared to seasons of old. Gone are the gaudy uniforms and the low attendance rates, this new team has star power both on the court and in the owners box and will ensure the new Barclays arena will be pumping in New York.
WashingtonYep, Washington. Remember them? Laughing stock of the NBA... Well guess what, this team as currently constructed could be really impressive. I do want to stress, could be..... On paper it's hard to see how a team consisting of Nene, John Wall, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza and soon to be rookie sensation Bradley Beal don't compete for the final spot in the playoffs. Gone are the goofballs and knuckleheads who tried to sabotage this once proud franchise and in come a blend of young and experienced pro players. At times Wall looked like he was a man among boys last year, with Ariza and Beal on the wings he will finally have the running mates this future all star deserves. Good things are to come in Washington for the first time in a long time.
AtlantaThe hawks in the past few years have been pegged as perennial playoff attendees but not competitors. They always have a decent record, beat some good teams and then look awful against some really ordinary teams but this new look Hawks team has the roster to make some noise come postseason. Joe Johnson has moved on which surprised many, in return we see Kyle Korver, Devin Harris, Lou WIlliams, Anthony Morrow join stars Al Horford and Josh Smith in reshaping this new and impressive team. Horford burst back into the NBA after a long injury layoff, returning quickly to his devastating best. With a full off season behind them, no awful shots from Johnson and a new and improved roster to contend with, I can easily see the Hawks making the second round in a very competitive conference.
So there you have it, I have the Heat, Hawks, Celtics, Wizards, Nets, Knicks, Pacers and Bucks making the playoffs in the East. No Magic, no Bulls.... bold predictions indeed! Let us know your thoughts below. Photo Credit: (top) Brian Snyder/Reuters