The Celtics may find themselves at the bottom of the best when it comes to the standings at the end of the year, but that probably won't be a problem.
The East is in for one of its most exciting years. Without further ado, here are my top four Eastern Conference finishers.
The Heat are clearly the force to be reckoned with going into the regular season. Barring injury, they should end up on top in the wins column, and not just in the East.
Two of the league's top scorers unite in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, which, regardless of the supporting cast, would probably end up wreaking havoc on the league's helpless.
Now add in a 20/10 guy in Chris Bosh and you have are dealing with a monster. The Heat also acquired Mike Miller from the Wizards.
Miller is 6'8” and shot a ridiculous 48% from three last year. Add some more pieces, including some young wild cards, and you have an offensive juggernaut.
Offense is often the staple of the regular season's best records, coupled with a reasonably sturdy defense, of course.
The Heat will likely have the scoring potential that the league has not seen in years, and with a younger core, they can easily pick on weaker teams.
The ability for Wade, James, and Bosh to post massive minutes upon necessity will likely prevent them from losing too many games against mediocre opponents.
Ah yes, my upset pick that isn't an upset.
The Chicago Bulls made a slew of acquisitions this off-season while not really losing too much of importance.
Yes, Kirk Hinrich is gone, but Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, and C.J. Watson are here, and thus, one-fifth of last year's Utah Jazz roster.
Oh, and don't forget about Kurt Thomas and Keith Bogans, I guess.
What Boozer brings will not fully be realized until he hits the floor this fall. He is an offensive stud and an excellent rebounder.
Another 20/10 guy like the third member of the Heat, Boozer gets to team up with Joakim Noah and greatly irritate opposing rebounders.
Korver brings his three-point expertise, Brewer adds menacing defense, and C.J. Watson is a proven pure scorer off the bench.
Throw these improvements along with an established top 5-point guard in Derrick Rose and the already synched talents of Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, and James Johnson, and you have quite the team.
The Bulls are bursting with youth that can play long minutes and depth that can give them solid rest when needed. Like the Heat, they shouldn't have many lower-level losses.
The youth of the Bulls, smarts of new Coach Tom Thibodeau, and a thirst to prove they are have arrived makes them one of the more frightening teams to play.
Well, during the regular season anyway.
In an attempt at being a non-biased fan, I will place the Celtics third, but with good reason.
Doc Rivers has already admitted that he will coach his veteran surplus wisely in terms of their playing time.
With five of their most crucial players 31 or over, Rivers will be smart to prevent any injuries by not overworking the Celts.
Adding Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal fills the center hole while giving it depth. The bench will be deep this year for the Celtics, and more so once Kendrick Perkins returns for playoff time.
Marquis Daniels and Nate Robinson should come back stronger this year with Daniels improving off his injury and both players further adapting to their roles.
The addition of Von Wafer also makes for improved outside shooting off the bench.
It easy to forget that Kevin Garnett has had the off-season to rehabilitate nagging injuries and could potentially have some spring back in his step this year.
We will never again see the Garnett of the Timberwolves days, but we might see one closer to that of the 2007-08 season.
The Celtics are smart to keep their players fresh heading into the postseason, but after a promising draft, their young depth may surprise a few teams.
I am going with a slight Magic downfall this season and here's why:
The Magic come back for another year with their little-changed team that flirted with history against the Lakers two years ago. However, that was because Kevin Garnett was absent for the Celtics.
2007-08 marked the only year the Magic have gotten over the Eastern Conference hump since their Shaq days in the mid-90's.
The Magic have shown that they cannot beat a healthy Celtics team in the postseason, and there is no way that their outside defense will be able to match up with the Heat.
The absence of Matt Barnes' defensive prowess will prove difficult for Orlando come playoff time as well.
The Magic have been able to log excellent records regardless, and of course have the best center in the league in Dwight Howard.
Howard's hook shots and foul shots have plagued him in the playoffs against tougher defenses, but there are few teams that can match up with his power amongst the lower squads.
Howard's abilities make for a tremendous inside-out game with Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson, and Rashard Lewis as able shooters.
The discouraging part is that Lewis has lost some of his burst and ended last year with his lowest PPG (14.1) since he was 20.
Vince Carter also averaged his lowest PPG (16.6) of any season with over 40 games started in his entire career.
Carter's explosive nature has seen better days and at age 33, he may have started a significant decline.
The additions of Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson pale in comparison to their competition, and it is difficult to think that the Magic will be able to maintain their excellence against three improved teams.
The Celtics are not the first team coached to be physically prepared for the playoffs. The San Antonio Spurs finished second and third in the Western Conference the last two times they have won the championship.
With one of the older teams in quite some time, the Celtics will need their legs come spring next year.
There is no doubt that if they put their most competitive team out every night they could make a run for the No. 1 or 2 spots, but they shouldn't try to log the minutes of the younger stars.
If the Celtics were to end up with the No. 4 spot, they would likely play the Heat in the second round, whom they likely have to get through regardless to make it to the finals.
If the Celtics can beat the Heat, they can easily beat the Magic or the Bulls, it does not matter what order it is in.
Boston's veterans can easily handle an extra road game here and there as they have proved before.
Either way, the Conference will boil down to these four teams, and boy, will it be fun to watch down the stretch.