The Eastern Conference has been nothing short of what people have thought it would be in the offseason. Below average. But recently, things have been looking up for many teams, especially in the top eight.
Raptors close to the top seed?
They’re a game away from the Celtics (as of 1/29/18) and are still pressuring Boston. As a Celtics fan, I’m really not scared of them. Derozan has seemed to cool down from earlier in the season and Lowry hasn’t been anything special. They have not proved to beat high, elite teams (Spurs and old Cavs don’t count), so until they prove they can beat a good team, they are not getting that top spot. Although, it is getting scary close. The Celtics need to be better.
So, last year’s problems has come to haunt the Celtics again. The size. The rebounding. And it all resurfaced against the Pelicans. The rebounding really wasn’t an issue in the beginning of the season, but we finally faced the two-headed (which unfortunately has had a head cut off) of New Orleans, and the size got the better of us. Theis and Baynes are our only real size. Theis is a good player, but he does need some improvement and won’t really have a chance against the best players against the league, who are bigger and stronger than him. Also, I don’t exactly love Baynes. I’ll admit, I grown to like him more and more as he increases his midrange game, but his size and slightly-above average shooting is what he has to work with, but it’s not enough against Cousins or Davis. The Pelicans shouldn’t be a huge threat anymore with Cousins being out, but when it comes to facing off against the best centers in the league, it will be a problem.
Anyways, size and Stevens’ small ball tactic has come back to bite the Celtics, but do I see the Celtics giving up the top spot. Only to the Cavs. I can see the Raptors losing their spot to the Cavs and only Cleaveland taking over the Celtics. I hear Deandre Jordan is on the block. That’s enticing. We could use some posters in Boston.
The Cavs are good again…
Maybe “good” is a bit of an overstatement. They’ve only played two games with the new lineup, but it’s looking good. Isaiah seems to be passing and trusting his new Cavs teammates. Lebron is doing what’s he’s been doing, and unfortunately that’s being the best player in the world. Ty Lue actually made the decision to keep the “King of the Fourth” out of the fourth, and Isaiah’s response is “I’m just glad we won”. Wow. Lue is also staggering the minutes of IT and Lebron. Maybe the chemistry just isn’t right over there. But, whatever. It’s working for them. J.R. has turned into a more of a shooter, which is what they need from a great shooter like J.R. Love has moved to the 4 and he is rebounding and putting up the numbers they need. And Rose is playing slightly above average. So, are the Cavs scary? In a few weeks, I think they will finally be a top contender in the East again.
The Bucks get Parker back
The Bucks without Kidd. 3-0. The teams they’ve played? The Suns, Nets, and Bulls. So, the Bucks are a bit of a wild card in the East right now, but really they should be a top five team. But don’t worry Milwaukee, because the Bucks are reported to get one their best players back, Jabari Parker. But, their double-header on Thursday and Friday (when Parker is back), I think we’ll know if the Bucks are for real.
Who’s getting a playoff spot?
Well, if there’s one team to get into the top eight in these next few weeks, or even days, it has to be the Pistons. They just made the trade for Blake Griffin. I don’t know about the decision to give up Harris and two draft picks, but it was a good move overall. The Pistons also got rid of Avery Bradley, and this was a good decision. The stats don’t show good things for Avery Bradley, but I really don’t think Van Gundy knew how to use Bradley, a good shooter who can play both ends of the floor well. But, Bradley wasn’t working for the Pistons and now he’s reuniting with his former coach, Doc Rivers (the Clippers look to be doing a complete rebuild, so will Doc stay?).
But, Griffin fills the spot for Tobias Harris and when Reggie Jackson comes back (expected in 2-3 weeks), Detriot can make a run for a playoff spot. Griffin and Drummond? Is Lob City Detroit now?