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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    NBA Eastern Conference Preview

    NBA Preview

    Eastern Conference

    1. Toronto Raptors

    2. Boston Celtics

    3. Orlando Magic

    4. Cleveland Cavaliers

    5. Philadelphia 76ers

    6. Detroit Pistons

    7. Miami Heat

    8. Chicago Bulls

    9. Milwaukee Bucks

    10. Atlanta Hawks

    11. Washington Wizards

    12.New Jersey Nets

    13. New York Knicks

    14. Charlotte Bobcats

    15. Indiana Pacers

    No disrespect to the champions, but losing James Posey is going to be Boston’s downfall come playoff time. There’s a problem when your fifth highest paid player is Brian Scalabrini and 75 percent of your payroll is dedicated to three players. They’re still going to have a great season, but I don’t think Darius Miles and Bill Walker will be able to fulfill the roles of Posey and P.J. Brown, and because of their lack of depth, there will be no repeat.

    Toronto made the biggest improvement in my mind this off-season. Jermaine O’Neal will finally have a reason to play hard, and stay healthy. Combine him with Chris Bosh and they will have an extremely difficult frontcourt to guard.

    With the acquisition of O’Neal, Andrea Bargnani should be in-line to finally have a break-out season. He’ll finally be able to concentrate on his natural small forward position and cause huge match-up problems, especially when all three 6’11” guys are on the floor. With guys like Jason Kapono and Jamario Moon coming off the bench, they should have a great overall team, however, they’re going to need guys like Kris Humphries, Carlos Delfino, and Joey Graham to step up if they want to go all the way.

    Philadelphia will also make a run for the championship. They have a nice core in Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, Samuel Dalembert, Andre Miller, and Willie Green that should get them far into the playoffs. Their bench consisting of Louis Williams, Thaddeus Young, Marreece Speights, Donyell Marshall, Reggie Evans, and Theo Ratliff gives them a lot of depth, which will give them a great advantage come fourth quarter.

    The acquisition of Mo Williams will make the Cleveland Cavaliers a better team, however, it could be too little too late for Danny Ferry. With teams like Toronto, Philadelphia, and the Miami getting much better, they might’ve missed their window.

    The team still lacks that #2 scoring option that could take pressure off Lebron James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Ben Wallace are way past their prime to deal with the front court of Toronto and Philadelphia, or even Boston at this point. Because of their glaring problems, they may not even make the second round. Cleveland should start getting their black suits ready for when 2010 comes around.

    The Orlando Magic will have a great team this year, and should win the Southeast division with no problem. They have a great core in Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Mickael Pietrus, Hidayet Turkoglu, and Jameer Nelson.

    Their bench, however, is still suspect. They have some decent players in Anthony Johnson and Courtney Lee, but their front court depth of Tony Battie, Brian Cook and Adonal Foyle will be their downfall. Dwight Howard is nothing short of a beast, but last year’s playoffs proved that he can’t do it by himself. Sure, they’ll be able to score with him, Lewis, and Turkoglu, but when they face Toronto, who’s going to guard Bosh? When they face Philadelphia, who’s going to guard Brand? I’d like them to make it to the second round along with Toronto, Boston, and Philadelphia.

    The Detroit Pistons should finally be knocked off their throne this season. Their strong defense and mistake-free offense made them a juggernaut over the last five years, however their roster may not be good enough to compete in the East anymore.

    Joe Dumars was right to want to blow up their roster this off-season, and with only Kwame Brown to show, their reign near the top of the east should be over. Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Tayshuan Prince, and Antonio McDyess will give them a nice starting roster, while Jason Maxiell and Rodney Stuckey will give them a great bench.

    If this team couldn’t win last year, how do they expect to win in a tougher conference this year? McDyess is always one wrong step away from blowing up his knee and the rest of the starting lineup has an average age of 31. Age should start to kick in this season and their unsuccessful offseason will make for a short exit in the playoffs this season.

    The Miami Heat may be the sexy pick this season for a lot of people, but they have too many glaring weaknesses. Dwayne Wade, Michael Beasely, and Shawn Marion will give them a nice trio, but past those three, the only noteworthy player is Udonis Haslem. Even though they signed Shaun Livingston, they’re still weak at point guard, and losing their only decent player off the bench, James Jones, for three months will prove to be too much for them the beginning of the season.

    Their front court depth will also hurt them versus the stronger teams, which is why they won’t make the run everyone expects them to. They should make the playoffs, but don’t expect more than that this year.

    The Chicago Bulls will be the final team to round out the playoffs. They have great depth at the guard positions with Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Derrick Rose, and Larry Hughes. They have also have great forwards in Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni, Thabo Sefolosha, and Drew Gooden. Rounding up the team with Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas at center gives them a great overall team.

    So what’s the problem? The team just doesn’t fit. They will have to play small during the season, and this year’s team is no different than last years. I think drafting Derrick Rose will give them enough wins to make the playoffs, but unless they make some trades unloading some of their guards and giving them better players in the front court, they’ll only squeak into the playoffs.

    To round up the East, the Knicks are a mess, the Pacers are even worse. The Nets are preparing for 2010.

    The Bobcats have a decent team but Okafor is due for another big injury, while guys like Gerald Wallace and Sean May can never stay on the floor.

    The Wizards already have major injury problems, and they won’t be able to coast through the season anymore.

    The Bucks got better with the acquisition of Richard Jefferson, and they should do well offensively. However, their weak defense will prove to be too much of a hurdle to overcome a stronger Eastern Conference.

    The Hawks should have a similar finish to last year, and it was nice to see them finally spend money. Unfortunately, they didn’t get better this off-season and they won’t be able to make the playoffs with a sub-.500 record this year.

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