I figured that with a few games out the gate, we'd be able to see some trends in the teams that we expect to make the playoffs and go even further. I decided to tackle the Eastern Conference first because I figured this would be the easiest of the two to discuss. Now I'm not so sure. On to my Top 5 Teams in the Eastern Conference.
1. Boston Celtics (8-1) - They are still the champs until someone beats them. This team didn't have much turnover, but their biggest loss was James Posey. What did they do, they just gave those minutes to Tony Allen. The Celtics have picked up where they left off last year with their defense and that's what's led them so far to the top of the Eastern Conference. I expect the Celtics to repeat but they have to find a way to cut down Paul Pierce's minutes (39.1 per game right now). The rest of this team will play well including more time for Bill Walker and Gabe Pruitt.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (7-2) - Has LeBron finally found a teammate that can make the game easier for him? Mo Williams has been a godsend for the Cavs so far. Add to the fact that LeBron just seems to be dunking the ball about 70% of the time (clean paths to the rim in most of the 9 games already). He's already averaging close to a triple double (29pts, 8 rbs, 7 asts) and he's still playing fewer minutes than Paul Pierce. Sasha Pavlovic hasn't quite gotten into the swing of things but I expect him to get up to speed soon. That's just going to make this team that much better.
3. Atlanta Hawks (6-1) - I can't believe that I'm saying this but the Hawks are good. I mean they are really playing to the level that their fan base would have wanted last year. These Hawks play defense. The Hawks aren't as deep as the teams above but Joe Johnson is firmly the leader of this team along with his 24pts per game. The key to the Hawks season is on the shoulders of second year forward Al Horford. Horford has been dominate in the post and he has that desire to make this team better. The Hawks won't sneak up on anyone this year.
4. Detroit Pistons (6-2) - I'm concerned with the Pistons. They got rid of Billups and McDyess (although they may get McDyess back) for Iverson. I have been called an Iverson apologist before and I can live with that. After watching him play with the rest of the Pistons team, I'm not sure this experiment works. I gave you the pluses and minuses of the deal when it was done and if the Pistons can gel, it'll work out great. Otherwise, they slide to the bottom half of the Eastern Conference.
5. Indiana Pacers (4-3) - This was the best team I could pick because they have been playing pretty well with TJ Ford at the point and it seems as though everyone on the team can play (and has played some significant time). Danny Granger is leading this team in scoring and they still haven't dusted of Mike Dunleavy yet. Time will only tell how this team fares because so much of it rests on the brittle backside of TJ Ford. Until something happens to him, I gotta keep this team in the running for the playoffs.
(You don't know how hard it was to find a #5 in the East. I had to pick from the Pacers, the Heat, the Magic, and even the Raptors.)
Who is your team and should they have made my list of Top 5 teams in the Eastern Conference?