NBA Playoffs 2011: Predicting the East's First-Round Matchups

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NBA Playoffs 2011: Predicting the East's First-Round Matchups
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Obligatory Miami Heat photo.

The NBA's Eastern conference has been resurgent in 2011. After years in the shadows of the much deeper West, there are no fewer than five teams in the East who could contend for a conference title, if not an NBA championship.

With this shift in conference power, it is no surprise that many of the league's most intriguing storylines can be found in the East. Suddenly, the West is the old guard, fading with every passing week. While the East houses the young up-and-comers, the new powers of the NBA who seek to prove that they belong amongst the game's best.

Will Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and the Heat be able to live up to their sky-high expectations? Or will they flame out to the delight of fans across the nation?

Will Derrick Rose and the Bulls be able to continue the incendiary pace they set during the regular season?

Can the Celtics, having gone all in on 2011 with the trade of Kendrick Perkins, be able to summon one more run at immortality?

Can the Knicks, one of the NBA's most intriguing rosters, come together quickly enough to live up to their potential and prove that they belong amongst the game's elite?

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