The Eastern Conference Revival
I love the NBA! Not just basketball games, but the NBA in general. The trades, the free agent signings, coaching changes, everything. I’m fan of the NBA, not a Lakers fan, not a Bulls fan, not a Kobe Bryant fan and definitely not a Lebron James fan. I am an NBA fan! With that said, I’m thrilled with the new landscape of the Eastern Conference. For the last few years all everyone wants to talk about is how weak the East is, how all of the dominant teams were in the West. Thanks to the Kevin Garnet/Ray Allen trades in 2007 the Celtics were able to upset that trend but I think that we can all agree that was only a short term fix. Their chance at winning multiple championships is pretty limited because of their ages. They may have another run left in them, but not to many more after that. Cleveland was nothing short of superb in the last two regular seasons before falling apart in the playoffs due to no low post presence and no one that could consistently knock down a jump shot. Orlando has also had a couple of good seasons in a row now, but are the title contenders? When I look at Orlando I only see Dwight Howard, and as great of a player as he may be, he’s not going to carry any team offensively. Other than those three teams and maybe the Bulls, the rest of the East was a joke. Name one playoff team in the West where Joe Johnson would be the franchise player.
This season will be far different as the last few seasons, both competition and entertainment wise. When was the last time the Eastern Conference had two teams capable of winning the championship? Not just make it there, but actually winning once they’ve gotten there. A lot more is involved in winning on that stage than talent. Of course that is the main ingredient but I can never state enough that coaching, chemistry, bench play and veteran leadership are just as valuable. Did anyone actually believe that Orlando could win the title two years ago when they made it? I didn’t.
The Celtics could have won it last season and it no one would have been surprised, but that was the only chance that the East had. Why? Well, because Boston posses all of the aforementioned prerequisites of winning a title. After the regular season that Boston had, with various injuries to all of their superstars, they could have easily given up. Most of America was counting them out, saying they were too old and too slow. They never subscribed to that way of thinking though. Doc Rivers would not allow his team to think like that. He knew that the time will come when they will be healthy and playing and instead of hanging his head when times were bad, he prepared his bench to step up when their names were called. He gave them the opportunity to sink or swim and players like Big Baby and Nate Robinson checked into the game backstroking. Rajon Rondo again proved that he could not only play with but at times dominate the majority of teams they face. They surprised everyone out here in TV land, but you know who wasn’t surprised at all? Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. They are all well aware what those guys are made of and that’s the kind of team you need to be considered a contender. Can Miami be that type of team? That remains to be seen but I would bet on it. The ingredients are all there. The roster has shaped up beautifully, the master Pat Riley is in the building as well as the King himself. Either way, it guaranteed to be interesting and I will be in the front row (of my living room) watching.
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