Boston Celtics Cool off Miami Heat: Power Ranking the Eastern Conference
Boston has beaten Miami again and with the win, has re-taken 1st place in the Eastern Conference.
Sunday marked the end of the season series between the top two teams in the East with the Celtics winning all three games.
The Celtics, who had lost two straight, were able to bounce back and stop the Heat's nine game winning streak.
Do not forget about the other teams in the East though. Orlando, with Dwight Howard, is very dangerous and Chicago is a team everyone seems to be forgetting about.
The East, in the past couple of years, has gotten a little bit more balanced.
One thing is still for sure though come this postseason. The teams to beat are going to be Boston and Miami. The road to the Eastern Conference title will go through one of these teams.
15. Cleveland Cavaliers
It is amazing how one player can have so much of an impact on a team and a city.
With Lebron James' departure, Cleveland is now the worse team in the NBA.
They just recently snapped a league record 26-game losing streak. They followed up their joyous victory by allowing Washington to snap their own personal 26-game road losing streak.
Cleveland just is not a good team right now. They need to rebuild and grow in the draft. Picking number one (hopefully) in next year's draft should be a good start.
I give credit to the city of Cleveland though. Cleveland ranks 3rd in the league in average attendance with over 20,000 coming out to see a team that may not even win 20 games this season.
14. Toronto Raptors
The Raptors are another team that needs a lot of help and will not be getting far in the playoffs any time soon.
They have some good young players though. DeMar DeRozen and Andrea Bargnani are having breakout and career seasons.
With the departure of Chris Bosh this off season, the Raptors needed to find a team leader and someone they can count on night in and night out.
They found those guys in DeRozen and Bargnani. At least they have that going for them.
13. Washington Wizards
John Wall has not made quite the impact that Wizards fans wanted to see.
Wall is having a very good first season in the league, but it is not translating into wins for the Wizards.
Wall is averaging close to 15 PPG and almost 10 assists per night. He has been a little inconsistent though and a little careless with the ball averaging almost three turnovers per game as well.
The problem is not Wall though. The team is just too young and too inexperienced to compete with the better teams. I compare this year's Wizards to the Sixers a couple years back.
With time and increased chemistry between the players, the Wizards will become a playoff contender.
12. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons in three to five years, have gone from Eastern power to Eastern mediocrity.
They have a totally different team than even just two years ago with the additions of Tracy McGrady and Ben Gordan.
Rip Hamilton's minutes have dropped dramatically and looks to be past his prime days.
The Pistons do have a franchise PG in Rodney Stuckey. With better players around him, Stuckey can be an All-Star.
11. New Jersey Nets
The Nets have already passed their win total from all of last season. They are still not the best team, but they are showing signs of improvement.
Brook Lopez should have been an All-Star. He is averaging almost 20 and 6 per night. Lopez is a player that they can build around and market as they move into Brooklyn.
Derrick Favors is having a so-so season. He is still very young and raw. He will be good. Just look at Dwight Howard's rookie season stats.
10. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks have a very good nucleus to build a team around, but are another player or two short from competing.
Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings pose a great 1-2 punch and John Salmons is a good third option. The problem comes after those three guys.
The Buck's problem is their depth. Name a player on the Buck's bench. Ready...go!
9. Charlotte Bobcats
The Bobcats are led by veterans Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace. Both have found their niches with the team and either one is capable of dropping 25 every game.
Wallace has turned into a nice all around player who could become trade bait as the deadline approaches. Many teams will want his services and Charlotte may be looking to free up some cap space.
D.J. Augustin is another underrated PG who most people are not talking about.
8. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers currently are just holding on to 8th seed in the East.
They are led by Danny Granger who is another All-Star snub.
Roy Hibbert and Brandon Rush continue to improve and have become serviceable starters.
The Pacers have also found a franchise PG finally in Darren Collison. He brings the ability to run an offense and also to create and score the basketball.
7. New York Knicks
A lot of people questioned the Knicks signing of the oft-injured Stoudemire to a max contract this summer.
Turns out they were all wrong because Stoudemire has brought basketball back to the Garden. He has brought hope and energy back to the Knicks.
Raymond Felton has also become a nice addition. With a PG and a PF like the Knicks have, they are capable of improving and moving up the standings.
6. Philadelphia 76ers
Speaking of basketball being back in big cities...the Sixers are back. The lonely Sixers have been forgotten in Philadelphia with the recent success of the Phillies, Flyers, and Eagles.
The Sixers are trying their best to make basketball enjoyable to watch again. After a 3-13 start, the Sixers have played some good basketball. They are just two games under .500 after winning seven of their last ten.
This very young group has the potential to be a playoff upset team. When they gel and are playing well as a team, they could be tough to beat.
Add Jrue Holiday to the underrated PG list.
5. Atlanta Hawks
The East should just draw a line after the top five teams. The top five teams are the only ones with winning records and are the only teams with legitimate chances of doing anything in the playoffs.
Atlanta brings a very balanced team to the floor each night with Joe Johnson usually leading the way.
Jamal Crawford has been a great sixth man in his return to Atlanta averaging over 15 off the bench.
Mike Bibby's numbers continue to decline. If the Hawks want to remain at the top of the East, they are going to need to find a replacement soon.
4. Chicago Bulls
Derrick Rose may be the best PG in the league right now. You may make an argument that he is the best player in the NBA right now also.
Rose and his 24.7 points and 8.1 dimes per night are hard to argue with.
Rose and company have brought Chicago from being the worse team in the East to one of the Title contenders.
Joakim Noah must be healthy though in order for the Bulls to contend in the playoffs.
3. Orlando Magic
The reason I put the Magic ahead of the Bulls is because of Dwight Howard. On any night, Howard can take over a ball game and win by himself.
The Magic are amidst a little bump in the road as they are only 5-5 in their last 10.
I think they are still letting the new players like Arenas and Turkoglu find their roles in the offense.
When playoff time comes around in a few months, I think this team will be a tough one to beat.
2. Miami Heat
It is safe to say that the road to the Eastern Conference Title will go through Boston...Just ask the Heat.
The Heat lost three straight to Boston. The next time they will get a chance to play them will possibly be in the playoffs.
The Heat must find a different way to beat the Celtics. The Celtics have shown that they can play defense when they want to.
Lebron, Wade, and Bosh are all going to have to step up their games if they want to get past Boston.
1. Boston Celtics
Boston is the clear favorite to come out of the East after beating the Heat all three times this year. The Celtics are the most experienced and also the most deep team in the East.
Everyone in the Celtics rotation could start on another team in the Eastern playoff race.
Boston added Shaq to contend with Dwight Howard. They now can match up well against any team in the East.
One team is going to have to step up and beat Boston on their home floor in order to reach the NBA Finals. Right now, I do not see that happening.