Teams are finally starting to show their true colors. We now know who the top teams are in the East and who’s is getting a lottery pick. However, the top three in the East have shown some challenges.
Number 1: Boston Celtics (34-12)
Number 2: Toronto Raptors (31-14; 2.5 games behind)
Number 3: Cleveland Cavaliers (27-18; 6.5 games behind)
The Cavs have been the biggest storyline over the past few weeks, after going 3-7 in their last 10 games. Isaiah Thomas has been recently put into the Cavs starting lineup, and it hasn’t been pretty. The chemistry isn’t right. The distribution of the ball isn’t right. But the offense really hasn’t been the problem. It’s the defense. I don’t even have to throw any stats at you. Just go and look at the past Cavs games and see the opposing score. You’ll see the Thunder scoring 148 points, the Warriors scoring 118 points, the Raptors scoring 133 points, but you get the point. Their defensive rating is the second worst in the league (Kings) and in the last ten games, it’s 116.9. So, it’s safe to say, the Cavs have been struggling on the defensive side.
“We played a lot harder and we have the guys to do that on this team. We just got to do it and really lock in on that end. We really need to trust each other on that end, and that is the biggest thing on defense is trusting the next guy that got your back, and that guy who helps trusting the next guy after that who has the backend. I think on that end we do not trust each other, and that has to change.” – Isaiah Thomas
The Cavs are in a dangerous position. They are only a half game above the Heat, who as of late, have been playing well. Cleveland is dropping out of the top three.
The Celtics and Raptors are battling for the top spot. Due to the Celtics’ early wins, they have been pretty comfy in the top spot. But, the Raptors have the power to take the top seat with underrated star power in Derozan and Lowry, who have both been mentioned in MVP talks.
Right now, the schedules seem to go in favor of the Raptors. The Celtics definitely play less games, but have harder games in my opinion. They will face the Warriors and Rockets one more time. The Raptors have the Heat, Timberwolves, and Wizards a couple of times going into the All-Star break. But, on the sixth of February, the Celtics will head over to Toronto, in what should be a good game.
It will really be about the Raptors offense against the Celtics defense, since both are around the top of the league in terms of their rating. Toronto’s defense against Boston’s offense is pretty much equal, and the Celtics really rely on their defense to get stops and get points on the other end, so this should be a good game.
Who to Watch?
I’m ready to see the Heat and Wizards climb their way into the top three, but I think the Sixers are dangerous. Philly has recently beaten the Celtics adding to their wins over top teams like Toronto and San Antonio. They have slowly made their way into the top six and will keep on climbing with a relatively easy schedule.