Who will be the beast in the East?

Who will be the beast in the East?
October 18
01:30 2018

Now that LeBron James has taken his talents to the Western Conference, the Eastern Conference is prime for the taking for several teams.

James dominated the east for nearly a decade.  He has carried whatever team he was on to the NBA Finals for the past eight seasons.  With him no longer in the East, that opens the door for another team to step up and take over.

There are a couple of teams in the Eastern Conference that have a chance to be the team to beat for years to come.  The Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors, should be the top teams in the East next season.  The all have at least one superstar player, with a quality supporting cast.

The most obvious contender for the crown has to be the Celtics.  They fought tooth and nail with the Cleveland Cavaliers in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, falling to the Cavs in seven games.  They accomplished this without their starting backcourt of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

With both Hayward and Irving at full strength, the Celtics should be one of the top two teams in the conference, barring injury.  The playoff experience many of their younger players had during last year’s playoff run should benefit them greatly this season.  Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown should emerge as young stars, while Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart will look to improve their supporting roles off the bench.

My prediction is that the Celtics will finish first in the East and make it to the NBA Finals.  They will lose to the Warriors, but they will make it a more interesting series than many will predict.

My next contender has to be the 76ers.  With the superstar duo of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, Philly should be in good shape for next season.  If former No. 1 overall pick, Markelle Fultz, can live up to his potential, the 76ers could challenge the Celtics for supremacy in the East.

The 76ers have pretty good complimentary players with Robert Covington, JJ Redick, Amir Johnson and Dario Saric.  I think they may be one All-Star caliber player away from surpassing the Celtics.  With Embiid and Simmons being generational talents, I would not count the 76ers out of any series against an Eastern Conference opponent.

The fate of the Milwaukee Bucks simply lies in the hands of Giannis Antetokounmpo.  He has been trending upward for the last couple of seasons.  Antetokounmpo is a stud on both ends of the floor, making him one of the best overall players in the NBA.

Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, Thon Maker, along with rookie Donte DiVencenzo gives the Bucks a nice core of athletic talent surrounding Antetokounmpo. 

The Raptors were the top seed in the Eastern Conference last year.  They traded DeMar DeRozan this offseason for Kawhi Leonard.  They were never able to get past the LeBron led Cavaliers with the core group of players they had.

Switching DeRozan for Leonard is a definite upgrade since Leonard is arguably the best two way player in the league, when healthy.  The Raptors have a nice bench, so the East better be on the lookout.

Now that James has left the conference, the Eastern Conference should be very interesting, especially come playoff time.  I for one am glad to have more intrigue, instead of just waiting for the inevitable.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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