Carmelo Anthony Trade: How the New York Knicks Shape Up in Eastern Conference
It finally happened. Carmelo is a New York Knickerbocker.
The Eastern Conference just got real interesting...
You've got defending Eastern Conference champions and the Big Four in Boston; the Big Three down south in Miami; Derek Rose and Company out in Chi Town; Superman and Friends in Orlando.
And now you've got 'Melo and Amar'e in the Big Apple. (no Atlanta reference. Sorry, Hawks)
We've been blessed with great playoff basketball in the past few years, but this year may be the best we've had in some time. The East has finally caught up with the West (minus the seven and eight seeds).
Can 'Melo and Amar'e shake things up out East?
Here's how the East shapes up now that 'Melo is a Knick.
1. Boston Celtics
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Record: 41-14. First in the East
This isn't their first rodeo. The defending Eastern Conference champs are still at the head of the class.
Boston has been dominant all year long. Everyone wanted to hand the East over to Miami when the season started; the Celtics have cooled the Heat in all three of their meetings this year.
Rondo, Garnett, Pierce, Allen, and the rest of the Celts (they're the deepest team in the league) are poised to make a title run again this year.
2. Miami Heat
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Record: 42-15. Second in the east
The Heat have assembled perhaps the most exciting team in NBA history. They have three of the first five picks from the 2003 draft in their starting line up.
So far, The Big Three have worked out—to say the very least. Miami is just percentage points behind Boston for the East's top seed, and they'll likely battle Boston for the top spot for the rest of the season.
LeBron is scoring 26.2 points per game, Wade is at 25.3, and Bosh is putting up 18.6 a night. The Heat are going to be great for a very long time.
Is this their year? It has yet to be seen if Miami can get by Boston.
3. Chicago Bulls
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Record: 38-16 Third in the East
Derrick Rose has been unbelievable in Chicago this season; he's got to be the front runner for the MVP award.
The Bulls are just 2.5 games behind the Celtics and Heat in the east. What's even more impressive is that Chicago has been playing at this level with injuries to key players.
Carlos Boozer missed considerable action in the beginning of the season, and Joakim Noah has been out for quite some time (he's returning Wednesday). Boozer and Noah have hardly been on the court together this season.
The Bulls are 2-1 against Boston and Miami, and they'll take on the Heat this Thursday with their full lineup.
4. New York Knicks
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Record: 28-26. Sixth in the East
Basketball is alive in New York again.
The Knicks made themselves contenders when they traded for 'Melo and Billups. (Why doesn't anyone bring up Billups? He's a champion and an absolute stud come playoff time.)
Two of the NBA's top five scorers, 'Melo and Amar'e, reside in the Big Apple. The Knicks also have a former NBA Finals MVP in Chauncey Billups running the point.
New York's version of "The Big Three" have yet to play a game together, but you'd have to assume that they are going to be pretty darn good. They'll be fun to watch, at the very least.
The Knicks began the season hoping to make the playoffs, and now they are going to be a legitimate title threat when the postseason gets under way.
5. Orlando Magic
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Record: 36-21. Fourth in the East
The Magic have been pretty good in the last couple of years. Orlando was in the Eastern Conference Finals last year, and they were in the Finals the season prior.
Don't get me wrong, the Magic are still a force to be reckoned with, but they haven't gotten better like the Bulls, Heat, and Knicks have.
They simply don't have the star power of the other top teams in the east. Jason Richardson is second on the team in scoring at 13.7 points per game (Howard is first at 22.8 ppg). We'll see if Orlando will have enough magic to get by the rest of "The Beasts out East" come playoff time.
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Record: 34-22. Fifth in the East
Atlanta has a real nice team. Nice. All five of their starters are scoring in double figures.
Bibby is a good veteran point guard, Josh Smith and Al Horford are a great young front court, and Joe Johnson is a "nice" first scoring option.
The Hawks don't have a go to guy that can just take a game over for them. Boston has three or four, Miami has two, New York has two, Chicago has Rose, and Orlando has Howard....
Atlanta has Joe Johnson.
The Hawks will make the playoffs for their fourth straight year, but don't expect them to make it very far.
7. Philadelphia 76ers
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Record: 27-29. Seventh in the East
The 76ers have a lot of young talent, and Doug Collins has done a nice job in Philly.
But let's be real. If the Sixers make the playoffs, they are either going to play the Celtics or the Heat, and they are going to get destroyed.
Try and name three players on the Sixers right now off the top of your head.
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Record: 25-30. Eighth in the East
Indiana might make the playoffs, simply because there aren't any good teams in the East after the top six. It's not like the West where there are 10 teams playing .500 ball.
If the Pacers do sneak into the playoffs, they will have to play the Celtics or the Heat. It's not going to be pretty.
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For years, the East have been weak. Boston, Orlando, and Cleveland have been the only legitimate teams to make a title run for the last three or four seasons.
It's wide open this year. The Celtics adopted the Big Three system in the 2007-2008 season and won the Finals. They made a model for success that other teams have tried to adopt.
Boston's Big Three is now four with Rondo. The Heat have James, Wade, and Bosh. The Bulls have Rose, Boozer, and Noah. And now the Knicks have 'Melo, Amar'e, and Billups.
What does this mean? I'm not sure, but I know that the playoffs will be a lot more interesting in the East this year.