NBA Playoffs 2013: 5 Bold Predictions for the Eastern Conference

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NBA Playoffs 2013: 5 Bold Predictions for the Eastern Conference
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Repeating a championship victory is even harder than winning one. What's in store for 2013?

Last season, despite my strenuous objections, the Miami Heat captured another NBA championship.

LeBron James silenced all doubters by following his regular season MVP with an NBA Finals MVP performance, essentially cementing his status as the greatest basketball player in the world and the best since Michael Jordan.

The Heat return their Big Three of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, and come into the 2012-13 season as the favorites to win the title.

With the offseason dust settled, it now seems appropriate to make some early predictions for the 2013 NBA playoffs. To borrow a promise from ESPN's NFL columnist Gregg Easterbrook, "All Predictions Wrong or Your Money Back."

Teams that take the seventh or eighth seeds have a virtually impossible playoff run ahead of them, and in the current NBA, both conferences boast six very strong teams at the top.

With all due respect to whoever manages to eke their way into the playoff picture in the last two spots, they are due to exit the postseason in the first round.

Without further ado, I see the Eastern Conference playoff picture breaking down as follows: 1. Miami Heat, 2. New York Knicks, 3. Indiana Pacers, 4. New Jersey Nets, 5. Boston Celtics, 6. Chicago Bulls, 7. Philadelphia 76ers, 8. Milwaukee Bucks.

And here are my bold predictions for Eastern Conference playoffs.

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