The Miami Heat are going to make the Eastern Conference Playoffs this year and are realistically the only team in the Southeast Division that can challenge the Atlanta Hawks for the division crown. Miami is significantly better than Orlando, Washington, and Charlotte, but don’t have as high of a ceiling as the Hawks.
Though Miami clobbered Atlanta on Sunday, I still think that the Hawks are better of the two teams. While only half a game separates the Southeast Division rivals in the standings, Atlanta’s offense will stand as the difference maker over the Heat this season.
The Chicago Bulls are seeing their window of opportunity to win an NBA Championship shut before their very eyes. Many thought that the Bulls would stand as the primary challenger to Central Division rival Cleveland for Eastern Conference supremacy this season.
That has not been the case, as the Bulls are like always never at full strength. On paper, they could very well have the best roster in the East, but games aren’t won on paper, they are won on the hardwood. Chicago hasn’t done enough of that to think that are anything more than a team that can get past the Eastern Conference Semifinals this season.
The Boston Celtics are widely better than I expected. Yes, this was a playoff team to start the season, but any thought that Boston could have home court advantage in the first round was too farfetched for me to get my head around.
Yet, the Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks have a tie enter Thursday for third place in the East. The scary part about the Celtics is that a trade to improve their roster is looming. General manager Danny Ainge will acquire a star player in the next few weeks. Boston could play in an Eastern Conference Finals, but they still need to prove that they can win a playoff game under Brad Stevens to become a dark horse NBA Finals contender.
Next: Tier I: NBA Finals Contenders