With the Western Conference picks out of the way, let’s focus on the Eastern Conference. For years, the Eastern Conference of the NBA were kind of like the laughing stock. The Western Conference dominated with as many as 10 teams in playoff contention. Things have turned around because the top 5 teams in the Eastern Conference are just as good as those in the West. NBA All-Star Weekend have come and gone, now it’s time to see what will take place in the East. The trade deadline saw some significant moves and they upgraded a couple of teams into title contenders. Let’s check out to see who the top 5 teams in the Eastern Conference will be when the season is over. As of now, these top 5 teams are separated by 6.5 games.
Despite not making a move before the trade deadline or getting a buyout, the Celtics are still my frontrunners. As of now, they’re tied with the 76ers for 4th in the East and they’re 6.5 games out. Boston has been a better team without Kyrie Irving, but things will change in the second half. Kyrie Irving has been nursing a knee injury and they’re hoping it won’t affect him the rest of the season. The Celtics also face uncertainty about their future regarding Kyrie and the possibility of trading for Anthony Davis. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, Gordon Heyward and Al Horford are good enough to capture the East. The question is, can they gel in these last 24 games to make a run at the top?
Philadelphia made enough moves before the trade deadline to possibly have the best starting 5 in the East. The 76ers picked up Tobias Harris along with many other pieces for a possible championship run. The health of Joell Embiid and Jimmy Butler will be key in the second half of the season. Philadelphia will be hard to beat in a seven game series because Embiid is a matchup nightmare. Ben Simmons make that offense go, Jimmy Butler is a beast on both ends of the court. The addition of Tobias Harris will be huge, and we all know that J.J. Reddick is one of the best 3-point shooters in the league. Can the 76ers make a run to the NBA Finals?
The Toronto Raptors added Marc Gasol at the NBA trade deadline and that’s huge. Marc Gasol is one of the more versatile big men in the league and he fits perfectly with this team. Kawhi Leonard is the best two-way player in the league. They also added Jeremy Lin after his contract was bought out by the Atlanta Hawks. Kyle Lowry isn’t scoring as much, but he has elevated his assists and on the defensive side. Pascal Siakim have been a surprise for the Raptors this season. Siakim have developed into a potential All-Star as he’s developed into a talented player. This Raptors team could easily finish on top as they’re only a game out of the top spot.
Milwaukee currently sit atop of the Eastern Conference by one game over the Raptors. Giannis Antetokounmpo have developed into an MVP contender and they also made moves also. Milwaukee continue to add shooters around Antetokounmpo with the addition of Nikola Mirotic. They have won 8 out of their last 10 games heading into the All-Star break. With Giannis dominating on both ends of the floor, the Bucks will be a tough out in the playoffs. On the other hand, with his inability to hit a shooter it will be tough for this team to make a Finals run. Can the Bucks maintain their lead in the East and head to the Finals?
When Victor Oladipo went down with his horrific injury, we all thought the Pacers season was over. Indiana currently sit in the 3rd spot in the East as they’re ahead of the Celtics and 76ers by a game. I’ll be honest, this Pacers team have surpassed all my expectations with Oladipo being out. Indiana should finish in the top 5 but look out for the Brooklyn Nets despite being 10 games behind the Pacers.
Are you excited about the second half of the season? How do you see the Eastern Conference play out in the second half? What do you think about my top 5? Leave some feedback below.