NBA Playoff Predictions 2011: Eastern Conference
As NBA Free Agency begins to wrap up and teams are set for the 2011 Season, The Boston Sports Guy has decided to predict the 2011 Playoff teams for the Eastern Conference and rank them one to eight.
#1 The Miami Heat
Even though I'm not especially on board with this whole "Miami Thrice" crap, the Miami Heat top my list in the East. I mean having LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh all on the same team will bring South Beach a lot of wins in 2011. With these three superstars on the same team, in addition to a young Marion Chalmers and NBA vet Udonis Haslem in the lineup, this is a very similar lineup the Celtics unveiled in 2008, if not better. And if I remember correctly, the Celtics won it all that year.
#2 Boston Celtics
Despite the Celtics lagging down the stretch of the second half of the season and making it into the Playoffs as a #4 seed, the now big four showed that they could still get the job done. With an impressive MVP type performance by Rajon Rondo throughout the playoffs, the Celtics were able to eliminate the number 5, 2, and 1 seeds in the Eastern Conference and reaching the NBA finals and almost won it. With the return of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and key bench players such as Nate Robinson as well as the addition of Jermaine O'Neal, the Celtics are as strong as ever.
#3 Orlando Magic
I have the Magic at three here but it was a close third. The Magic had an impressive performance in the Playoffs last season after they took care of the Bobcats and the Atlanta Hawks before being knocked out by the Celtics. The Magic have the games best center and possibly overall defender in Dwight Howard. In addition, the Magic got an impressive playoff performance from point guard Jameer Nelson to team with Howard. Also the resurgence of former first round pick J.J Reddick has been key for Magic as he will return to the team next year. Also with veterans Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis, the Magic pose a legitimate threat in the East.
#4 Chicago Bulls
Despite losing out on LeBron James, the Bulls are checking in at number 4 for me. The Bulls in this offseason have improved their stock from an eight seed to a serious playoff contender without adding anyone named LeBron. The Bulls were able to add power forward Carlos Boozer, sharp shooter Kyle Korver, and swingman Ronnie Brewer to an already impressive Bulls lineup. Boozer fills a big hole for the Bulls for a major scoring big man and running mate for Derrick Rose. Arguably, the most solid lineup all the way around.
#5 Atlanta Hawks
After achieving the 3 seed last year in the playoffs, the Hawks slide to number 5 this season for me. The Hawks made big headlines by re-signing shooting guard Joe Johnson to a lucrative 123 million max contract. Even though they overpaid for him, Johnson was a big reason to the Hawks success last season. The Hawks also have some of the NBA's most underrated players in Josh Smith and Al Horford. With a hole at center, the Hawks have recently been linked to Shaq to fill that role. And we all know what happens when Shaq's on your team, you make the playoffs.
#6 Milwaukee Bucks
With a surprising playoff appearance for the Bucks in 2010 as a six seed, I look for them to repeat their performance and obtain the six seed once again. This offseason, the Bucks were able to go out and acquire forward Corey Maggette from the Warriors, resign small forward John Salmons, and also get Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut hopefully 100% healthy for 2011. With an impressive rookie season, Brandon Jennings looks to take the Bucks back to the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
#7 Cleveland Cavaliers
Well I bet if you’re a Cavs fan and you are reading this right now, you are going what the heck are you talking about? Well, we need to look at the facts here. Even though LeBron James is gone, this team still has Antawan Jamison and Mo Williams, as well as important role players such as Anderson Varejao, J.J. Hickson, and Anthony Parker on the roster. LeBron James made the Cavaliers worse, but not enough to put them out of the playoffs.
# 8 New York Knicks
Now I know I’m gonna hear a lot of stuff about why I have the Knicks making the playoffs in 2011, but believe it or not, the Knicks won't be that bad in 2011. The Knicks were able to kick off free agency with the addition of forward A'mare Stoudemire as he signed a five year 100 million dollar contract. The team was also able to improve the team by signing very underrated point guard Raymond Felton from Charlotte. The team also shipped David Lee to Golden State in a sign-and-trade that brought back Kelenna Azibuike, Anthony Randolph, and Ronnie Turiaf. With Danillo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler in the lineup, the Knicks will be able to pull players from a deep bench. Also, watch out for Randolph, he has the potential to become the next All-Star.