Basketball critics have always stated that the Eastern Conference is the weaker of the two separate conferences in the National Basketball Association. However, within the Eastern Conference lies the greatest basketball player in the world right now in LeBron James. The presence of James alone in the Eastern Conference gives the East a fighter’s chance of winning the title this season. Here are the five teams that Tops Sports thinks have the potential to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals this season.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
What could have happened if Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were healthy in last year’s NBA Finals? Even without Kevin Love, I felt like the Cavaliers would have pushed the Warriors to a seven game series. But that did not come to pass the Warriors won the series 4-2. In the offseason, the Cavaliers resigned Kevin Love to a new contract that makes them the favorites to return to the NBA Finals. On top of that, LeBron James also suckered the front office into signing power forward Tristen Thompson to a five-year $82 million dollar contract. With all of the recent moves that the Cavaliers have made, should catapult them into the NBA Finals once again.
2. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls had the perfect opportunity to take out LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the semi-final round of the postseason. They failed to accomplish that by losing the series 4-1. The Bulls bring back everyone that was a part of the roster that failed to knock out the Cavaliers last season. If Derrick Rose can stay healthy this season, the Bulls could be a serious threat to the Cavs this season. Also, be on the lookout for trending star Jimmy Butler. He could be the difference in the Bulls making it to the Finals.
3. Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards were on the cusps of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals when they took on the Atlanta Hawks last season. They lost the series 4-2. One of the key members of last year’s squad, Paul Pierce decided to rejoin former head coach Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers. Explosive point guard John Wall must step up and fill the role that Pierce left behind in Washington. Expect the Wizards to be right in the midst of obtaining one of the top seeds in the Eastern Conference this season.
4. Toronto Raptors
Last postseason the Toronto Raptors were swept by the Washington Wizards 4-0 in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. They were just outplayed by the Wizards in every aspect of the game. To bring some physicality to the roster, the Raptors signed power forward DeMarre Carroll. Carroll will bring toughness to a Raptors lineup that could not handle the intensity that Paul Pierce presented to the court in last year’s playoff series against the Wizards.
5. Indiana Pacers
We saw how dangerous the Indiana Pacers can be once their star player Paul George returned to the lineup. George missed the majority of the season when he suffered a severe leg injury playing for the United States Summer Olympic Team in 2014. Now that George is back at full strength, I expect the Pacers to become a contender in the Eastern Conference once again.
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