Now that LeBron James has moved on from the Cavaliers, left the team in ruins and the biggest moves in the offseason have been made, one question remains. What team can take over the position as strongest team in the Eastern Conference?
The Celtics were the last opponents of the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals and they definitely fought throughout the entire series to make it to the Finals, but eventually lost 4-3. The young players proved that they were not only NBA worthy, but can make the difference in a playoff series.
This says a lot about the future of the Celtics, as they had already thought twice in the season that it was over for them. The first time was when Gordon Hayward was out for the season, but then the young players took over for him. The second time was almost at the end of the regular season, when Kyrie Irving was out for the rest of the season as well. No one thought they had a real chance in the playoffs, but the Celtics’ back-up guard, Terry Rozier was up for the task. Give them a couple of years and a healthy team, and they can be the rulers of the East.
The 76ers are definitely on their way to becoming the next big thing in the East, as no one expected such an inexperienced team could make it to the playoffs, but they did, and even made it through the first round. Now that they have this experience, they can continue to build on their team, and this young team might be very hard to beat just two or three seasons from now.
The Raptors performance in the playoffs unfortunately hasn’t been hard to predict these last few seasons, as they have done great throughout the season, but aren’t able to make the difference in the playoffs. Leonard might be the missing piece of the puzzle for the Canadian team, which means, if he stays healthy and plays, the Raptors have a good chance to advance far into the playoffs this year.
Unfortunately, Leonard only has a contract for one year, which means they’ll probably lose him quite soon. That way, even if the Raptors will do a great job this year, even if they would somehow make it to the (Eastern Conference) Finals, if Kawhi Leonard leaves, their reign as the Rulers of the East would be over.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is definitely one of the best players in the Eastern Conference, but that doesn’t mean your team is also one of the best in the league. They lost 4-3 in the first round of the playoffs to the Celtics, which is no surprise as they were on fire.
But, it shows that it has to be seen whether Antetokounmpo’s teammates can provide enough help to become the rulers of the East. Though Antetokounmpo is compared to LeBron James a lot, that doesn’t mean he’s able to lead his team to the Finals on his own. For now, the Bucks seem to be the fourth best team in the Eastern Conference, but that could all change throughout the season.