October 26, 2016 by Ell and Mike Sports
Ell’s Preseason NBA Playoff Predictions: Eastern Conference
The Cavaliers are the defending champs and they still have the best player in the league in LeBron James. Kyrie Irving proved to be one of the top PG’s in the league and the Cavs would like to see that continued growth and the continued growth of Coach Tyronn Lue. The Cavs have added a few pieces and are always on the hunt for a veteran signing; bringing back mostly the same group they will continue to be at the top.
The Celtics continue to be one of the best young teams in the league lead by GM Danny Ainge and the development by HC Brad Stevens. This team is one of the deepest teams in the league and the 2nd unit is almost as important as the starting unit. The Celtics can give any teams problems with the athletic match-ups they have and are always looking to make a move for a superstar.
The Bulls have added to key veterans in Rajon Rondo and Dwayne Wade who should really help lead this team back into the playoffs with their leadership, defense, and playmaking abilities. The Bulls have one of the tougher lineups and the league led by Jimmy Butler who proved last year to be a solid 2-way star and he is now the franchise player. The Bulls added Michael Carter-Williams to help a young 2nd unit at guard, but there is plenty of talent inside.
The Wizards continue be led by the combo of John Wall and Bradley Beal, but both staying healthy, mostly Beal now, is always the key to their season. The Wizards have added a lot of depth to their lineup to mask some of last year’s deficiencies and should be able to win their division. They have competition at every position this year except the starting guard spots, of course, so that’s always a good thing.
The Pacers continue to be led by the all-around skills of Paul George, but this year they have decided to get some offensive help in Jeff Teague, Al Jefferson, and Aaron Brooks. The resurgence of Monta Ellis and another growth spurt by Myles Turner could take this team to another level. They are deeper they were last year and shouldn’t have to rely on George to do everything; that’s always a plus.
The Raptors have their same consistent lineup with the additions of Jared Sullinger and 1st round pick Jakob Poeltl which should help soften the blow of the loss of Bismack Biyiombo. Their trio of Kyle Lowry, DeMar Derozan, and Jonas Valanciunas will have to continue to lead the way, but can they make an even stronger playoff push?
The Knicks have fans excited to see what the additions of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Jennings can bring to the team; this presents a nice core group to go with Melo and Porzingis. Rose’s presence should make the fans happy, Noah should bring good fire and energy, Lee should bring solid perimeter D and stretch the floor, but Brandon Jennings might be the one to bring stability to the PG position. This team now has playoff talent, but injuries are something to watch.
The Hawks are transitioning to Dennis Schroder from veteran Jeff Teague and he appears more than ready for the job, but the backup spot is now questionable. The Hawks will miss veteran big man Al Horford, but Dwight Howard’s defense and rim protection fit better in this scheme. With a strong bench and a consistent lineup of Korver, Bazemore, and Milsap, this team will find a way in the playoffs, but how far can they go?