TrueHoop ran a post yesterday called Handicapping the New East in which "a bunch of bloggers, journalists, insiders, and lovers of the game" predicted how this year's Eastern Conference playoff race is going to turn out. You can go there for the full story, but here's the Basketbawful contribution:

"The playoff teams are Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Miami, New Jersey, Toronto, and Washington. You'll notice that, for the most part, these are the teams whose core players have been together the longest. After all, consistency usually = winning. These picks are, of course, contingent on key players remaining healthy, Dwyane Wade and Gilbert Arenas each making a full recovery, Shaq choosing to play more than half the season, and Vince Carter not wimping out now that he's got a new big-money contract. The Celtics, thanks to the additions of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, will improve the most. The Bucks and Magic will fight a losing battle for the final playoff spot. The Bobcats, Hawks, and Sixers will surprise some people. The Knicks will continue to disappoint, much to chagrin of their fans and the delight of everybody else. There's going to be very little separating the top eight teams. Any of them could advance, although my heart says Chicago and my brain says Detroit for the Eastern Conference Finals, with the Pistons moving on. Of course, Cleveland, Miami, and yes, even Boston all have a legitimate shot at reaching the promised land. Wait, Boston's still coached by Doc Rivers, right? Okay, scratch them."

I also predicted that Lebron James would be the MVP of the East. This isn't to say he's necessarily going to be the best player or have the greatest impact, but I think he'll do the most of everything (points, rebounds, assists) and look really spectacular doing it. The media seems to love him, even though they grudingly admit he can't play defense and doesn't have a jumpshot. The clunky jumper is my biggest gripe, though, considering how much he likes to bomb away from the outside.

Anyway, we'll see in, oh, about eight months how close to the mark I was.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
As a Magic fan, I do think they will make it to the playoffs this year, but I don't see a whole lot of improvement on last year's 8th seed. I'm in the minority around here in thinking that the loss of Grant Hill and Darko almost completely offsets the addition of Rashard Lewis. The one bright spot is that we had a major upgrade in coaching to Stan VanGundy.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
I thought long and hard before omitting the Magic from the playoff picture. Talent-wise, they're probably no better or worse than last season; they sacrificed Hill's playmaking for a little more scoring. And Stan Van Gundy will do a good job guiding the ship. But, unless something major changes, I just don't see them being better than any of the teams I picked. Essentially, by adding both Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, the Celtics usurped the Magic's playoff spot.

Anonymous dickey simpkins said...
I think Toronto is due for a big dose of reality this year. They relied too heavily on late-game comebacks to win a lot of their games, and they will miss Morris Peterson a lot more than they expect. They were exposed badly against NJ, so I think you could switch Orlando with Toronto.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
dicky -- While I agree with you in principle, I think the Magic will miss Grant Hill more than they expect (particularly his playmaking). In the end, I feel like Toronto has more consistency, whereas Orlando is going to have to deal with greater turnover. I think consistency is a key to teams, I'm just not sold on Rashard Lewis. And if you're familiar with the Contract Year Phenomenon, I have Rashard down for a significant drop off in productivity.

But hey, if there's a team I'm wrong about, I'm ready for it to be the Magic.

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