Atlanta Hawks: Eastern Conference Power Rankings, Dec. 31

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170. . . Previous: . Charlotte Hornets. 9. team

The Charlotte Hornets are a good team at home (13-6). However, the Hornets have played 19 of their first 31 games at Time Warner Cable Arena and aren’t particularly great on the road (4-8), against the Eastern Conference (10-10), and in the Southeast Division (2-5).

This team should hover around .500, but could dip below that threshold when their schedule gets tougher in 2016. Charlotte should contend for a playoff spot this year, but are a little too inconsistent to pencil the Hornets into a seven or an eight seed at this point.

18. . . Previous: . Boston Celtics. 8. team

Boston has been middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference for the entirety of 2015. They are well-coached and have a high floor as a basketball team, two things in their favor to get back into the playoffs as a sixth, seventh, or eighth seed.

However, general manager Danny Ainge may need to make a trade deadline deal to give the Celtics a bit more bite in the second half. Getting into the playoffs is priority number one for this team, as Ainge will have the rights to swap first round picks with the Brooklyn Nets in the 2016 NBA Draft. So why wouldn’t the Celtics try to push a little further in 2016? Entering 2016, this team could win a few postseason games and nothing more.

Previous: . Miami Heat. 7. team. 110. .

The Miami Heat have a strong home court advantage (11-4), but may not have the right makeup to win big in the Eastern Conference this year. They have a sub-.500 record in the East (9-11) and have only played 11 games away from the American Airlines Arena.

Defensively, the Heat are as good as anybody in the Association, but bench depth and offensive limitations will end up holding this team back in 2016. The Heat should make the playoffs, but aren’t going to get past the Eastern Conference Semifinals this season.

Next: Tier II: Eastern Conference Finals Ceiling