2011 NBA Playoff Predictions: Eastern Conference Team-by-Team Analysis

Hamza AhsanCorrespondent IApril 13, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 25: (L-R) Derrick Rose #1, Loul Deng #9, Joakim Noah #13 and Kyle Korver #26 of the Chicago Bulls gather to talk during a game against the Memphis Grizzlies at the United Center on March 25, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Grizzlies 99-96. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In the past decade of professional basketball, the Eastern Conference has won a measly three out of 11 NBA Finals thanks to the likes of the Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.

This year might be the start of a new decade of the East dominating the NBA Finals. With arguably the most talented teams stemming from the East, this might be the most competitive year of East playoff basketball since the years of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Patrick Ewing.

Spectators have seen the rise of the youthful and injury-prone Bulls team. The Bulls come in as the a playoff threat thanks to the great leadership of Derrick Rose, consistent play of Luol Deng and players like Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer providing solid interior play. This Bulls team appears to be the top team, come playoff time.

Next to the Bulls, last year’s NBA Finals runner-ups, the Boston Celtics, look for retribution as they attempt to make their third NBA Finals appearance in the past four years. With the Big Four of the Celtics playing at a high level, there is not too much to stop this power-hungry team.

Coming into the season the Miami Heat were the most hyped team. Although the Heat have struggled against the top teams in the NBA this season, look for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to go all-out to try to help Miami win their second NBA championship in team history.

Even though the Miami Heat are the most dominant team in the Southeast Division, look no further than the Orlando Magic as the team to fear from the division. In the playoffs, the Magic will be a threat for all teams.

With Dwight Howard putting up career numbers this year, and not too many men that can stop his interior play, look for the Magic to be the scariest team to face in the playoffs.

A bit of a surprise team to look out for is the Atlanta Hawks with the fifth seed. Even though they haven't played too stellar, throughout the course of the season, the Hawks still have a team to beat with their young and athletic roster.

With the same Atlanta team that made it to the second round last year, look for them to come back and give the Magic a run for their money, in the first round.

The team that fans expect to be the best under-the-radar team is the New York Knicks. Surprisingly though, this team has been known as a disappointment since the acquiring of Carmelo Anthony, posting a record under .500 with the former Nuggets star.

Even though their play hasn’t been stellar since the All-Star break, the duo of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire should never be doubted.

Now, in my opinion, a team that seems a bit underrated has to be the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers have had no hype coming into the postseason and yet I still believe that they can somehow pull something together in the playoffs.

With Elton Brand playing well, as of late, and with Jrue Holiday leading it up top, the 76ers are still a team that could compete with second- or third-seeded team.

Finally, the last-seeded team is the Indiana Pacers. Although most people would chose the Chicago Bulls to defeat the Pacers, look for the Pacers to put up a fight. A team that has already defeated some of the NBA's elite teams has been playing great basketball in the past 30 days.

With young stars leading the way, this Pacers team looks like they are ready to show the NBA why they will be a team to fear in a few years.

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