The NBA trade deadline has come and gone and we had some interesting moves take place. We are going to focus on the Eastern Conference with this one. Brooklyn went all in by acquiring Blake Griffin after he was bought out. Later on, they added LaMarcus Aldridge after he was bought out by the Spurs. The Orlando Magic went into full rebuild mode by trading their best players. Aaron Gordon was shipped to Denver and Nikola Vucevic was dealt to Chicago. Evan Fournier was also traded as he went to the Boston Celtics. There were other teams that made moves like the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat. After all these moves, who emerged as the top 5 teams in the Eastern Conference after the trade deadline?
When Brooklyn added James Harden, we thought that was enough to secure them a spot in the NBA Finals. After adding Blake Griffin, we thought they may just be the favorite to win it all. Now that LaMarcus Aldridge is a part of the team, who can challenge them in the East? The biggest issue with the Nets will be their health. Kevin Durant has dealt with issues the entire season. Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge are not the same All-Stars they used to be. With all of those uncertainties, Brooklyn is by far the favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
Milwaukee didn’t make any eye opening moves before the trade deadline. The Bucks did add Jeff Teague after he cleared waivers. Teague will give them a veteran guard who can still contribute to a championship contending team. Giannis is hitting his stride and in the running for another MVP award. The Bucks are currently in third place in the East as they are on a 3-game losing streak. This comes after they’re 7-game winning streak. Milwaukee will turn things around and I wouldn’t be surprised if they make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. All of that will depend on match-ups and how others will step up around Giannis.
Joel Embiid was the frontrunner for the league MVP award when he went down to a knee injury. Despite losing Embiid, the 76ers still remain atop of the Eastern Conference. They have won 8 out of their last 10 games and Embiid is due to return anytime now. The Sixers have a stacked team and if Embiid is healthy for the playoffs, they will be a problem. There is no one who can stop Embiid in the paint. If you choose to double him, the Sixers have shooters around him. Tobias Harris is playing some of his best ball since joining the Sixers. Ben Simmons is showing why he should get serious consideration for defensive player of the year.
The defending Eastern Conference champions have had bad luck all season. Whether it’s injuries or Covid protocols, they are always missing players. Miami went out and acquired another scorer in Victor Oladipo from the Houston Rockets. If they can remain healthy, this Heat team could be playing in the Eastern Conference Finals again. By adding another scorer and seeing how they play defense, this team is ready for another run.
This is not a misprint or maybe this is wishful thinking on my part. The Hawks biggest issue this season has been trying to stay healthy. Cam Reddish, DeAndre Hunter, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari all have missed significant time this season. Kris Dunn, who will help them on the defensive end hasn’t even suited up yet. When they all can come together and with the addition of Lou Williams, this Hawks team could be scary. Trae Young doesn’t need to score 30 point a game for them to have a chance. Atlanta has a group of guys that can get you 20 points at any time and adding Lou Williams will be great.
The Boston Celtics is a team that could make a run and crack the top 5. The New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets and the Indiana Pacers all have a shot also. In the end, I’m picking the Nets, Bucks, Sixers, Heat and Hawks to be the top 5 teams at the end of the season.