Eastern Conference Playoff Seedings For 2011
The dust from the free agent bonanza of 2010 has finally settled. Some teams struck gold(Miami, Chicago) while some teams had their foundations destroyed(Toronto, Cleveland) and other teams made low-key acquisitions to keep them competitive(Boston, Orlando).
One thing is certain though, the East has been bolstered and bulked up. But despite the end of all the hoopla and speculation of 2010 Free Agency, we've been left with even more questions than answers:
Can The Boston Celtics Still Contend?
Can The Miami Heat Justify All The Offseason Hype By Winning An NBA Championship?
Can The Chicago Bulls Finally Break Through?
Will The Orlando Magic Finally Get Back To The Promise Land?
8) Cleveland Cavaliers
The night that the so called "king" made the decision to "take his talents to South Beach", he shook the NBA (mainly the city of Cleveland & the Cavaliers) to it's core.
With the departure of Lebron, the Cavaliers have been a shattered team looking to rebuild, they've traded Delonte West and are reportedly shopping around Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison.
Even without Lebron, the Cavaliers are still a decent team, and with the leadership of Byron Scott combined with strong play from new 1st and 2nd option scorers, Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison, don't be surprised if the Cavaliers pull together and make the playoffs.
Projected Record: 39-43
7) Charlotte Bobcats
The Charlotte Bobcats had a great 2009-2010 NBA season, for the first time in their franchise history they had a winning record and clinched their first ever playoff berth, but despite being swept by the Orlando Magic, they had a good showing.
The Bobcats lost Raymond Felton to free agency and traded away tough, physical shot-blocker Tyson Chandler, those two losses will hurt them at some point. It will be interesting to see how Kwame Brown(one of the greatest big men to ever play the game) contributes to the Bobcats.
Projected Record: 41-41
6) Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks:The underachievers of the Eastern Conference
The past two seasons, the Hawks have been almost stellar in the regular season.
Then when the postseason starts, they go through the same drill that they've been through the past 2 years: Win a tough seven game series in the 1st round and then get totally dismantled by an Eastern Conference powerhouse in the form of the dreaded 4 game sweep, this year will be no different, except the Hawks won't even make it to the East Semis.
With the strengthening that the East has gone through this summer, The Hawks now play in one of the NBA's toughest Divisions and since they've made no realistic upgrades or acquisitions, there's no place for them to go but down.
Projected Record: 48-34
5) Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls made quite a splash this summer, signing All-Star power forward Carlos Boozer to a 5 year/$80 million dollar contract and adding other great pieces to the puzzle such as defensive shooting guard Ronnie Brewer, and 3-point marksman/Ashton Kutcher look-a-like Kyle Korver along with veteran Kurt Thomas.
The most underrated move for the Bulls this summer was signing defensive minded coach Tom Thibodeau. Thibs did a great job in Boston, and with him at the helm, the sky is the limit for the young, talented Bulls.
Projected Record: 51-31
4) Milwaukee Bucks
Last season, the Bucks literally came out of nowhere and put the city of Milwaukee back into playoff contention and relevance. This season, lead by sophmore Brandon Jennings and the recovered Andrew Bogut, the Bucks are ready to do it again.
Milwaukee made some great moves this offseason such as trading for Corey Maggette, resigning John Salmons and signing Drew Gooden. Milwaukee will be strong this year and win their division and earn the 4th seed in the East.
Anyone who thinks Milwaukee can't possibiliy win their division think about this: The Bucks play in the Central division where there are only three playoff teams:
Chicago, Milwaukee and Cleveland(under .500), Chicago will be a great team, but don't be surprised if the Bucks win the season series and the Central division.
Projected Record: 53-29
3) Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics have once again retooled this summer in hopes of raising another banner.
Though they lost key defensive swingman Tony Allen, they've added the firecracker known as Von Wafer, resigned Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, and added veteran big men Shaq and Jermaine O' Neal to the fray.
With both the O' Neals, Glen Davis, Kevin Garnett, and Kendrick Perkins(when he returns from injury), the Celtics have a deep rotation and boast one of the most physical, intense and large frontcourts in the NBA.
The only thing that presents a challenge for the Celtics this season is consistency and health, if they can avoid the meltdowns and lapses(both mental and physical) of last season, they'll be the 3rd seed in the East come playoff time.
Projected Record: 56-26
2) Orlando Magic
For the past two seasons, the Magic have been an Eastern Conference powerhouse. Orlando has won 59 games the past two seasons and been one of the league's best defensive teams. This summer, the Magic signed free agent Quentin Richardson and he'll no doubt fit right in, an offensive spark who is a great 3-point shooter. Though Richardson is more of a offensive threat than Matt Barnes was, Barnes was the edgier player and you have to wonder if the Magic will miss his mental toughness. Orlando will have more competition in the Southeast division than in recent years with Miami and it's 3 stars.
Projected Record: 61-21
1) Miami Heat
Though they've proven nothing yet, I'll give them the 1st seed in the East. With the three offensive weapons they have, they're going to give teams a lot of problems. It's going to be interesting to see how Erik Spoelstra runs this offense with three players that need the basketball to be effective. These are the roles that Miami's stars will play on offense:
1) Dwyane Wade: 1st option scorer
2) Lebron James: 2nd option scorer, distributor, facilitator, point-foward from time-to-time
3) Chris Bosh: Rebounder, post scorer from time-to-time
With Wade and Lebron being the two primary options on offense, Chris Bosh will probably be reduced to a 15-10 power forward.
It will be interesting to see how Erik Spoelstra manages these three egos and makes sure there are enough touches to go around. One thing that comes to my mind is how much Mario Chalmers will contribute, with three young stars in the midsts of their primes, I don't really see Chalmers getting a lot of touches or opportunities. All in all, the reason the Heat would probably win this season is because it's Lebron's time. This is his year to win a championship and become an elite great in the NBA, it's his destiny. Hey wait a minute, where have I heard this one before..................................................
Projected Record: 64-18