Projecting The East Playoff Order

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We’re still two days away from the NBA’s moratorium on free-agent signings and trades being lifted. So, Dwight Howard isn’t officially a Houston Rocket and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce aren’t officially Brooklyn Nets until Wednesday.

None of what we’ve seen shake out over the past seven days can become official until then.

But that doesn’t mean the business of basketball isn’t going on. From summer leagues to free-agent deals being agreed upon and trade opportunities still being explored, the ball never stops bouncing.

That’s why we’re skipping ahead to training camp and the 2013-14 season here at the hideout and forecasting — fearlessly, mind you — to April 2014 and who we believe will shake loose from the pack and be the cream of the playoff crop in the Eastern Conference (the Western Conference list will drop Tuesday morning).

We’ve got the usual suspects and a surprise or two as well, listed in projected order of finish:



The last time we saw the Heat, they were popping bottles in the locker room at AmericanAirlines Arena after winning their second straight Larry O’Brien trophy. Apparently Larry really does love Miami. They are the only franchise in the league capable of sitting out both the Draft and free agency and maintaining their position atop both the Eastern Conference and the league. Ray Allen sticking around for another year is certainly a good thing. But the most important thing for the Heat to accomplish during this offseason is to make sure LeBron James gets as much rest as possible, Dwyane Wade takes care of his knees and Chris Bosh brushes off all of the criticism he took last season and comes back ready to redeem himself for that pedestrian playoff performance. No one has done anything to put the Heat’s hold on the league in jeopardy. Team boss Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra will sort out the rotation and add and subtract the periphery pieces necessary to ensure the Heat start the season where they’ve finished each of the last two … on top!



Larry Bird couldn’t stay away, not with the team he built so close to achieving the ultimate goal of bringing a championship to his basketball-made home state. Bird’s first order of business was to make sure Pacers’ locker room and emotional leader David West didn’t get away in free agency. West, Paul George and Roy Hibbert comprise one of the best inside-out trios in the league. Add in a healthy Danny Granger for the 2013-14 season, and the Pacers have every reason to believe that they will finally catch a Heat team that might be worn down from the grind of three straight Finals trips. Adding role players like C.J. Watson and Chris Copeland gives the Pacers an edge and shooting stroke in the backcourt and frontcourt they didn’t get from D.J. Augustin and Tyler Hansbrough. Whatever changes were made, the Pacers’ title hopes rest on what point guard George Hill and Granger (and, to a lesser extent, Lance Stephenson) can give them now that George has taken over as the All-Star face of the franchise. Anyone expecting him to take a backseat to a healthy Granger (or anyone else) is dreaming. George’s coming out party lasted the entire 2012-13 season, culminating in an eye-opening performance against James (in particular) and the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. Expect it to keep going for years to come.



What looked like a lost season to some in Chicago was more of a revelation of what the Bulls are working with sans their best player, Derrick Rose. His absence from the court (well, for anything but the practices he was rumored to dominate) shined a light on a supporting cast that is far tougher than they’ve been given credit for in recent years. All-Star Joakim Noah‘s playoff effort, while battling injury himself, should not be overlooked. He’s moved up our list of quality big men, well into the top five and perhaps the top three. Having smoothed out the rough edges offensively, Noah became a two-way force to be reckoned with and an ideal inside counterpart for Rose. Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng (who needs to get healthy this summer as well) provide the sort of veteran leadership teams overspend for every summer. But Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has shown us that no matter what the parts look like, he will put a team on the floor capable of grinding with anyone in the league. What he’ll have in a ticked off Rose, who will carry all of the foul things said about him last season with him to the court every night, is a game changer that no other team in the East can match. No draftee or free-agent pick up this summer is better than adding the former MVP back to your mix.



The Nets have the stars lined up. From rookie coach Jason Kidd to a starting five — of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Pierce, Garnett and Brook Lopez — that looks as good or better than any starting five in basketball, at least on paper. Translating all of this from paper to the floor is where the Nets will run into the same issues that have plagued other franchises that have tried to fast track their way to a championship (the 2007-08 Celtics are the last team that rode the wave from summer construction to championship parade the next summer). The irony of this whole thing? The Nets were the team Howard named as his preferred destination when he forced his way out of Orlando. Had things gone the way he and Williams had planned, there would have been no need for all of the trades that have reshaped this seasoned and expensive starting five into the unit that it has become. The expectations for this crew will dwarf anything that Williams, Johnson and Lopez experienced in their inaugural season in Brooklyn. There was a tempered excitement with everything from the roster to the arena being so shiny and new.  There was hope that things would turn out well, but certainly no concrete expectation that a championship contender was on the immediate horizon. This time around, anything short of a spirited charge to the conference finals will be considered a colossal failure.



If Andrea Bargnani, the No. 1 overall pick by the Toronto Raptors in the 2006 Draft, has any chance of shedding that “bust” label that has plagued him throughout his NBA career, his pending stint with the Knicks might be his last chance to do so. His critics are probably chuckling at the idea of the big man thriving on a team with Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Amar’e Stoudemire. There are others, however, who feel that Bargnani has found the perfect fit for his skill set in coach Mike Woodson‘s system. “Listen, Andrea can play. He has a skill set that is undeniable,” said a former NBA coach of the Year. “You have to get over the fact that he’s not going to be Dirk [Nowitzki] or even Pau [Gasol], at his best, and realize that he’s a 7-footer that can shoot the cover off the ball. You put him in the right system, where he can play pick-and-pop and play his role, and he’s going to be dangerous.” The Knicks need dangerous and then some. They found that out in the playoffs, when it became clear that their hobbled group was not up to the task of dealing with a grimy Pacers crew that worked them over inside. The Knicks have likely fallen behind the Nets entering next season, but if Stoudemire is healthy and Anthony is refreshed, that could change quickly. The Knicks have the firepower to challenge for a top-three spot in the East.



Stunner, right? The lowly Wizards hanging out in playoff territory isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. If you watched the Wizards down the stretch last season, or at least when both John Wall and Bradley Beal were healthy and rolling, you know why we’ve got the Wizards this high. Drafting Otto Porter Jr. with the No. 3 pick was a no-brainer for a team in need of swingman capable of playing alongside Wall and Beal. Porter provides the defense Wizards coach Randy Wittman and his staff seek and is capable of stretching the floor as a 3-point shooter with the size (6-foo-8) necessary to worry teams who focus solely on Wall and Beal. The Wizards also have the workman-like bigs (Emeka Okafor and Nene) that will handle all of the dirty work and allow this ultra-talented backcourt to play at a pace that suits them. Fleshing out their roster by retaining shooter Martell Webster, picking up backup point guard Eric Maynor and snagging Glen Rice Jr. in the second round of the Draft, the Wizards finally have a top-to-bottom type roster capable of making an impact any night.



Paul Millsap. DeMarre Carroll. Kyle Korver. And maybe Monta Ellis? That’s not exactly the kind of superstar haul Hawks fans were expecting when the franchise made it clear that they were going to put that $34 million-$40 million in cap space to good use by chasing Howard and Chris Paul. Those dreams were dashed immediately. Howard gave the Hawks a courtesy meeting when he knew all along that there was absolutely no chance he was coming back home to chase rings. And the minute Doc Rivers went to the Clippers, the dream of making up for passing over Paul in the 2005 Draft (for Marvin Williams) was dashed. Still, the Hawks should have a nucleus of the aforementioned players added to Al Horford, Lou Williams and John Jenkins, a group capable of securing one of the final three playoff slots in a top-heavy Eastern Conference. New coach Mike Budenholzer will have his work cut out for him with a mismatched roster that Horford will have to anchor from the center position he was hoping to escape with the addition of a quality center in free agency (Andrew Bynum and restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic are still out there …). And there is till an unsettled point guard position to deal with. Restricted free-agent point guard Jeff Teague is rumored to be the target of the Milwaukee Bucks, who have a restricted free agent of their own in Brandon Jennings that might interest the Hawks. The franchise has a string of six straight playoff appearances going right now. They should have the necessary parts to make it seven straight.



The addition of Josh Smith, for four years and $56 million in free agency, does not put the Pistons into the playoff picture. Not by itself. But there is a void this crew can possibly fill for that No. 8 spot in the East. Adding Smith to a maturing frontcourt that includes Greg Monroe, rugged young monster Andre Drummond, rotation players Kyle Singler and Jonas Jerebko and second-rounder Tony Mitchell gives the Pistons the size, depth and versatility that screams playoffs. Adding an athletic specimen like Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, the No. 8 pick in the Draft, to pair with point guard Brandon Knight and it’s clear that the Pistons are working with resources that should finally get them out of the lottery mix.  Perhaps the most important thing for the Pistons was the hiring of Mo Cheeks as their coach. He replaces Lawrence Frank, now the top assistant in Brooklyn under Kidd, who never could find the right connection with his young crew. Cheeks is coming into this situation having helped nurture an extremely talented and hard-working group of young stars in Oklahoma City. Expect him to have a clearly defined plan for all of these guys to improve their individual games. Cheeks and Pistons general manager Joe Dumars also have the ear and respect of Smith. They are the ones who swayed him during the recruiting process. If he plays the way they think he can, this should be a breakout season for the Pistons.

JUST MISSED THE CUT: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors


  1. Age says:

    1 Miami
    2 Indi
    5 new york
    6 Toronto
    7 Cleveland
    8 Detroit

  2. Age says:

    i think the raptors will get in they have one of the best 2 3 punches in the league in Rudy Gay and Demar Derozan developing big man like jonas valanciunas and amir johnson are dogs underneath the rim . although kyle lowry is a decent point guard he needs to develop more . this is a raptors team who beat INDIANA AND NEW YORK TWICE LAST SEASON

  3. MCD says:


  4. ppapi says:

    1. Miami
    2. Chicago
    3. Indiana
    4. Brooklyn
    5. New York
    6. Toronto
    7. Cleveland
    8. Washington

  5. Tskins81 says:

    I find it interesting there was no mention of Golden State Warriors. They clearly was a force and rising team last year and with the addition of Andre Igoudala I think they can be a dangerous team and they definitely have gotten better without a doubt.

    • ac says:

      I find it interesting that you think a team from California should be in the eastern conference.

  6. ac says:

    Miami – Enough said
    Indiana – I’d love to pick my beloved NYK over Indiana, but Indiana just added more pieces without really sacrificing anybody except Tyler Hansbrough (overrated and white). Plus, Granger should be healthy, moving Stephenson to the bench.
    NYK – Definitely better than Brooklyn. I love the trade for KG and Pierce, but they have no money for any bench whatsoever as a result. That would be ok four years ago, but in 2013-2014 KG is not capable of playing more than 30 min a game, which leaves huge gaping holes for the other 18 min. Similar story for Paul Pierce, and Joe Johnson really dropped off last year.
    Brooklyn – Trade was definitely an upgrade (Wallace was a disaster and Humphries was pathetic) They’ve got enough to get by Chicago now and maybe enough to take a game or two from Lebron and company, but that’s about it.
    Chicagov- D Rose is back, but they need a second scorer to really contend. Luol Deng and Boozer are both nice options, but in a real contender team they would be ideally regarded as the respective third and fourth options offensively. Dunleavy was a good pickup off the bench, but hardly a game changer. They will also most likely lose Robinson, who gave them their only lift off the bench. Jimmy Butler will move to the bench now that Deng isn’t dead, but still I jut don’t see them having enough pieces.
    Detroit – Love the Josh Smith trade. I give them an outside chance at taking NYK down in the first round because of their size inside. Hopefully not, but its nice to see Detroit back on the right track again.
    Cleveland – Same with Cleveland. If they get Bynum (and he’s healthy) they could go higher than 7. Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett, Andrew Bynum (potentially), Kyrie Irving, Jarret Jack, Earl Clark, Sergei Karasev could make this team dangerous.
    Washington – They’ve got some nice pieces and will definitely be better than Milwaukee was as an eight seed last year. Can’t really see them going any higher than the 8 seed, though I could definitely see Boston or Toronto knocking them off for the right to be pummeled by Miami.

  7. Marc says:

    1. Heat
    2. Pacers
    3. Brooklyn- with the help of the vets I believe that the young guys will mature from last season and w the help of kg Lopez will become a better low post and help defender and w the help of Paul and terry the front court will get a lot of help from the vets and the young guys will learn from them seeing as how they know what it takes to win bc they have been there bf and with Kidd as the coach I believe they will make great progress next season
    4. Chicago- with d rose coming back I believe they will be a better team all around bc at crunch time they will now have that person they can go to that will make the right play and while it may take a while for rosé to get into game shape I still believe they will too the Knicks
    5. Knicks- I out them at five bc just bc they got Andre doesn’t mean they are going to be better bc no one on that team other than maybe Felton and chandler know how to play defense on a consistent basis and defense does win championships and they don’t have it they may have a few more scorers to go to but having scorers doesn’t mean you will b on the other side and be winning bc all they try to do is shoot threes and like they say you win by the three and you lose by it and they lost by it and what they really need is to bring in some more people who know how to defend
    6. Detroit- with the addition of smith and with the youngsters on that team I believe they will make a playoff push but I don’t think they will make it out of the first round but they will win atleast 1-2 games and they will not trade Monroe I don’t know what you are thinking but they will not I’m sure smith will adjust and the coach will keep him under control by putting him at the 3 as far as shot selection goes
    7. Cleveland- with the addition if young bigs in the draft and the addition of jack along with the others like Irving and people I believe they will make the 7th seed bc as long as they can bring in one or two more vets that can help the youngsters grow I believe they could win 2 games in the first round which will b a great improvement and as long as they can get those vets to help mold the young people they can a big contender later down the line
    8. Washington I believe as long as wall beal and everyone is healthy they will make the eighth seed and it will b a battle between them and Boston but Washington will prevail and Boston will make a push once rondo is healthy but it won’t be enough

  8. dustydreamnz says:

    1. Heat
    2. Bulls
    3. Pacers
    4. Cavaliers
    5. Knicks
    6. Nets
    7. Wizards
    8. Hawks

    A lot will depend on injuries though, it’s a long season.

  9. demetrius says:

    I’m insulted that being from Brooklyn I have to point out that there the next Knicks of that awful lock out season if dwill and joe.j argues about space then what makes you think that paul pierce is going to make
    Things better and i love the idea of 2 big men that shoot from the left side and post on the right playing together thats brilliant and the 6th man might need some Stabaling on his plane jr smith over the jet all day shumpert a monster in progress while you guys suffer the no space no defense blame it on the coach virus

  10. my guess says:

    oh and how the playoffs will turn out
    heat over cavs 4-1
    pacers over hawks 4-2
    bulls over wizards 4-3
    nets over knicks 4-3

    heat over nets 4-2
    pacers over bulls 4-3

    pacers over heat 4-3 (3ot in game 7)

  11. my guess says:

    1) heat
    2) pacers
    3) bulls
    4) nets
    5) knicks
    6) wizards
    7) hawks
    8) cavaliers

  12. pistons says:

    1. BULLS
    2. HEAT
    3. PACERS
    4. KNICKS
    5. NETS
    6. HAWKS
    7. PISTONS
    8. CAVS

  13. chitown says:

    1. Heat (Lebron still in prime, same team from last year)
    2. Pacers (starting five stays, adding CJ Watson and Copeland help the bench)
    3. Bulls (the return of Derrick Rose, the chemistry will be back and Jimmy Butler will improve)
    4. Nets (adding KG Pierce and Jason Terry is not good for the future, but for this upcoming season it will help a lot, J Kidd has a lot of pressure but the chemistry will build within the team)
    5. Knicks (JR Smith returns, hopefully a healthy Amare Stoudemire, Bargnani coming off bench, close tie for 4th with Brooklyn)
    6. Hawks (adding Paul Milsap to play next to Horford is genius, if they get Monta Ellis they could slide up to 5)
    7. Cavaliers (Anthony Bennett will not live up to #1 status but he will be productive, if Andrew Bynum signs and is healthy he could be a difference maker)
    8. Wizards (Otto Porter will be a surprise and will give good productivity, starting lineup is young and ready to strive)

  14. Ray says:


  15. oestietoastie says:

    1. Bulls
    2. Heat
    3. Pacers
    4. Nets
    5. Knicks
    6. Wizards
    7. Hawks
    8. Cavs

  16. Damian Batista says:

    Miami should change their starting line ups PG- Chalmers or Cole SG- Wade SF- James PF- Bosh C- Andersen or Anthony
    Also Miami doesn’t have good point guards Cole could defend but could barely shoot same thing with Chalmers can’t defend but could make some three’s but he makes them or misses them. Miami should get Paul or Irving or Deron Williams maybe Westbrook. Next season Miami should get some draft picks and trades.

    • asdf says:

      thats why they start chalmers. He is better offensively. and cole bring more defense and hustle to their second unit. And truth to be told, Lebron james is kind of their point guard, I would say that chalmers and cole are just guards, because they dont play the true point guard role for miami

  17. TheAll-Star136 says:

    1. Miami- They know how to win. They got stars and a willing bench.
    2. Indiana- Tall, young, Paul George, what else?
    3. Nets- Added veterans and I think Coach Kidd would do fine
    4. Knicks- Great scorers, but I’m concerned about Melo and Stat playing together.
    5. Bulls- Can’t wait for Rose. We would see.
    6. Hawks- They signed Millsap and probably they will get Jennings.
    7. Wizards- Drafted Otto, got Wall and Beal. Young and full of potential.
    8. Cavaliers- They got Irving, Waiters, and Bennett. Cavs would do O.K. if they get Bynum.
    The rest would either try to get the eight seed, or try to get a high draft pick

  18. Joe says:

    CLE (haha lbj reunion)

  19. nlsamkange says:

    Cavs are going to have a great season.. Got some great pieces together.

  20. Dennis says:

    Pistons and Hawks in, and Cavs out? Come on, they have an all star, premium quality youth talent in their starting 5, an excellent 6th man, and they’re going for Bynum also (if he’s healthy). I would put them above the Knicks, not below the Hawks.

  21. Zerotonine says:

    I think NBA history shows that the strength on paper is usually quite different from the reality at the end of the season. Often there are some surprises. Personally, I would guess something like this;

    1. Chicago
    2. Miami
    3. Indiana
    4. Washington
    5. New York
    6. Cleveland
    7. Brooklyn
    8. Boston

    I don’t expect that much from Brooklyn. They have a great starting five, but I think Pierce and KG would have rather stayed with the Celtics, and maybe this will effect their playing. I expect the Bulls to be back strong, like the Spurs last season, but they will be thrown out of the playoffs. The Knicks may be stagnating. The Wizard could conintue their streak from last season. The Cavs look interesting too, but I do not expect that much from Bennett. Whether Boston will suprisingly be the no. 8 depends on Rondo, I guess. I like the playing of Olynyk in the Summer League so far. Detroit will be better, but I do not see Smith making that much of an impact, yet. Orlando will be better as well. I don;t understand the high expetations of Atlanta, personally I feel like they will just above the next three teams. Philly and Charlotte are too young to make a difference. I expect Toronto to have the worst record in the league next season.

    I don’t think the Heat will three-peat. Instead, my Eastern Conference champion would be Indiana, who may finally beat them.

    I would be curious about some Western Conference predictions. I found this a pretty hard nut to crack.

  22. Shawn K says:

    I agree with the top 5 picks, but i don’t think Atlanta or Detroit will make the Playoffs this year. I think the playoffs(in the east) will be;


    People may not agree with my last few picks but i think the Raptors will have a chance with Lowry, DeRozan, Gay, and Valaciunas. The Wizards are looking better after drafting Otto Porter, i think they will be 7th or 8th seed. and the Cavaliers are also looking like a playoff team after the draft. I think their starting line up will be Irving, Waiters, Gee, Bennett, Varejao. If they do sign Bynum(i don’t think they should, he’s a major risk.) and he is healthy(and can play like he use to), they might even take the 5th seed. But there is alot of if’s with the 6th-8th seed. The Top 5 are almost guaranteed(while the order might change), but any team in the east could sneak in and take a playoff spot. Should be an interesting season.

  23. Lets go knicks says:

    1. Heat
    2. Bulls
    3. Nets
    4. Knicks
    5. Wizards
    6. Indiana
    7. Pistons
    8. Hawks

  24. lol says:

    what about the celtics?

  25. yoloooo says:
    2.indiana york

  26. jCor says:

    1) Miami
    2) Chicago
    3) Indiana
    4) Brooklyn
    5) New York
    6) Washington / Detroit / Cleveland
    7) Washington / Detroit / Cleveland
    8) Washington / Detroit / Cleveland

  27. Kal says:

    Toronto will take Atlanta’s spot. and Cavs might be in there too instead of Wiz or Pistons.

    but the top 4 are about right.

  28. Kingthejames says:

    East teams are beasts damn, so sad for the western conference champion of next final…

  29. RUNE GOOD says:

    1. Miami
    2. Indiana
    3. New York
    4. Chicago
    5. Brooklyn
    6. Oladipo
    7. Washington
    8. Cleveland, Milwaukee, Atlanta

  30. ORLANDO MAGIC could just about make the cut in the east because Tobias Harris will come up big along with Vucievic and Oladipo

  31. i think orlando can some how slip into contention through the strong player of tobias harris leading, Nikola Vucievic and Victor oladipo

  32. trololol says:

    1. Bobcats
    2. Orlando
    3. Raptors
    4. Sixers
    5. Bucks
    6. Cavs
    7. Wizards
    8. Celtics

    This is sure thing. And Knicks missing po, but Bargnani will be MVP. Not a bust anymore. Just wait and watch guys.

  33. J says:

    great stuff here’s mine:

    1 heat
    2 bulls
    3 pacers
    4 nets
    5 knicks
    6 wizards
    7 pistons
    8 cavaliers

    number 8 was tough to decide

  34. Lakers4life says:

    Damn I can’t believe I wrote that comment. ):

  35. One mistake says:

    I think it’s all good except… The Hawks need to be swapped with Cleveland. The Cavs have a very solid group with lots of depth and will snag a seed between 6-8

  36. rettr says:

    4.New york

  37. NBAIQ says:

    4.New York

    I picked the Bulls out of the east because D-Rose will return better than ever and coach Thibs never takes his foot off the gas.

  38. MIAallTheWay says:


  39. Random fan full of opinions says:

    I’ll say what I’ve said every year, don’t count out Pierce and Garnett. Seriously, how many times are we going to say they can’t compete anymore? It has been the same thing every year since they won a title. No one is saying they are going to put up 20+ numbers on the board but come on, they are still Pierce and Garnett. Stop sleeping on them because they aged another year.

  40. Milan Lucic says:

    Obviously top 3 (Miami, Indiana, and Chicago) will compete for ECF and Brooklyn being the wildcard. The problem with BKN is stars are lined up, but they are aged and will have rookie coach who will be dealing with them. If everything falls in piece BKN will scare top 3 teams in the East we have seen too many teams with star-studded lineup that failed. Honestly Miami will be #1 choice, but if anything is wrong with Wade’s knee again, it won’t be easy for them unlike this cake-walk playoff series against MIL and CHI. It sure will be better to be the top seed in the East because then the team will avoid facing top 3 team in the playoff twice.

  41. Matt says:

    Call me crazy but I think The Boncats might sneak into te aloft picture signing Al and te addition of Cody Zeller

    • J says:

      your crazy



      that’s how you spell those words

      they prob end up 11th in east of course that means no playoffs

  42. Superdamo says:

    Who cares about no.2-8, miami will win it all. going for their 3 peat LOL :))

  43. Mike says:

    I don’t really see how the Nets could be better than the Heat, Bulls, or Pacers next year. They clearly have one hell of a fan base though considering the comments all over the internet about how well they’ll do next year.

    I guess I just want to see a valid argument. There’s no way the Nets improve more than the Bulls – who gain back DRose – which they’d have to do to beat them in a seven game series.

    I understand Indy over Chi but don’t believe it will shake out that way. Bulls seem to be a better regular season team over the years. It’d be one hell of a playoff series, though.

  44. Benzo says:

    4.New York

  45. Mark says:

    1- Miami
    2- Chicago/Indiana
    3- Chicago/Indiana
    4- Brooklyn
    5- New York
    6- Toronto/Atlanta
    7- Toronto/Atlanta
    8- Washington

  46. Damian Batista says:

    First Round:
    Heat-Cavs 4-0
    Indiana-Detriot 4-0 or 4-1
    New York-Washington 4-0 or 4-1
    Chicago-Brooklyn 3-4 or 4-3
    Miami-Brooklyn or Chicago 4-1 or 4-2
    New York-Indiana 2-4, 4-2, 3-4 or 4-3
    Conference Finals:
    Miami-Indiana or New York 4-3 or 4-2

    • Derpicus Trollington says:

      Chicago – Brooklyn, that sounds like a great rematch with better teams now. And Heat – Cavs would be so intriguing to watch

    • will will says:

      Hawks get #1 PICK 2014 Draft

    • jabs says:

      Det – Ind should be a great rematch of their previous rivalry. but 4-0??? Not that bringing in JSmith would be that much of an impact but the combinitiion of Monroe and Drummond this year wouldbe the biggest impact for this detroit team. Hibbert vs Drummond, that should be fun to watch..

  47. robin` says:

    i say cleveland in 4th spot if they get Bynum and only if Bynum does not fool around

  48. Arnel says:

    EAST teams are interesting no doubt about it. Rose is coming back, Granger is coming back. alot of trades and pick ups here and there. someone said that MIAMI got exposed by SPURS during the final. i do agree to that. the reason behind that is MIAMI does not have a legit center. Birdman did good and Bosh is not a center. i have said this many times that if the HEAT can acquire a decent center who can protect the paint.., stand a chance againts Hebert, Noah or any center.. conduct offensive and defensive rebound.., decent free throw shooting. MIAMI will be tough to beat. Why? because Bosh can play his original position as PF. That will give MIAMI a better floor spacing. The catch though is as long as LeBron and Wade stays healthy.. three peat is not impossible. any thoughts?

    • Derpicus Trollington says:

      I agree about their weakness being ‘exposed’ but that word is overused because everyone had known this since pretty much day 1 when they were built, they had no REAL CENTER. And I don’t understand why they wont go after those centers/PF that can act as a center, out there like Pekovic and some other guys that hasn’t gotten a contract. Some Centers are averaging like 14 & 6, and if they could convince those guys to take less money, like Allen, they should do it.

    • PIpsqueak48 says:

      I totally agree with this, but I don’t see Miami pulling in a legitimate center. The Pacers are emerging in the East and now have An All Star lineup with George, Granger ,West and Hibbert, with a legitimate point guard of George Hill. Grangers return puts lance Stephenson on the bench along with CJ Watson, making the guard rotation a tough one to beat. The age of the Miami bench( and D Wade) isn’t getting any younger, and Indiana being a top seed or beating Miami if they meet again in the ECF wouldn’t be surprising, considering that the Pacers now have a legitimate bench to put them over the hump from last season.

  49. comparing LBJ says:

    “How would you compare Russell as a player to James as a player, anyway? They play different positions.” – David Aldridge

    Funny, but media has no problems trying to compare him to Jordan and Magic when they feel compelled to do so for selective “ego praising inflation purposes” NBA seems to be full of criticism and praise flippers when it comes to it’s cherry picked merchandize sellers.

    We all know Durant is positioned next in line short of a career altering injury to be the media’s next “highlight trophy showcase” praise and deflect enough and some people will just go with it.

    • Derpicus Trollington says:

      Why are you bringing this up? This article is about the East’s potential top 8 seeds. and LBJ is being compared to both the MJ’s because he can play the way the both of them played. LBJ can play Point Forward and can defend almost all positions like Magic did, and LBJ can be a Jordan by scoring for himself like he did in Game 6 Finals vs Spurs (the 4th quarter in particular) and Game 6 ECF against Celtics.

  50. Kimmy says:

    Good article. I think these usual suspects will not make the playoffs this season: Knicks, Celtics, Atlanta. I think these three teams will enter the playoffs and will be the teams to watch: Pistons, Cleveland and Wizards. We shall see….

  51. johnny aces says:
    3.ney york

    how should standings into play off look a like…

  52. Anthonimania says:

    1. MIAMI
    2. INDIANA
    3. CHICAGO
    5. NEW YORK
    8. RAPTORS

  53. Skolimowski says:

    Trade the Hawks for the Cavaliers.

    Regarding the Celtics, you can never sleep on them.

  54. Neil Young says:

    Indiana-Chicago for the East. Maybe a pissed off Nets team that wants to get a ring will try and push. The Heat are done, will win the third seed and limp towards the semis and exit. They already barely made it through these playoffs, and Wade is not healthy (Old man syndrome), Bosh doesn’t matter, and Leblowj might get a little tired, maybe even injured for the first time in his career. Before you guys crown them again, which I know you all want to do, remember how hard it is to win three straight, and that there are other teams in the league that don’t like the Heat and want to beat them badly (Chicago, Indiana especially). Miami was exposed by an old Spurs team that was 10 years past its time, and don’t think that other teams didn’t notice. Be happy with two.

    That leaves a hungry Pacers team that should have won, if they were healthy and got some better calls. Chicago could get one more big name to help Rose and Noah, which would definitely put them over the top as a team with some balls.

    The west is actually more of a question. Spurs are old. Thunder are weakened. Golden State is shooting, but not strong. Lakers are confused. Houston will have its prima-donna issues. Denver lost players. That leaves the Clippers, who have tools but lack toughness, and Minnesota, who can make a big jump with a starting five of Rubio, Martin, Budinger, Love, and Pekovic, with Shved and Muhammad coming in to shoot the lights out, but don’t have respect. Utah is making moves also, but may be a couple years from seriousness.

    • Krishawn-MIA says:

      If the Heat were exposed by the Aging Spurs which they were you must not forget…So were the ENTIRE Western Conference -_-

      • Pakyaw says:

        @neil young(sweet Caroline), every team have their weaknesses, they been “exposed” (if that u call it) since middle of the season(lack of big men,no rebound).. Then why they still won?.. And Miami is 2nd oldest team (1st Knicks).. If u saying exposé by the old spurs..

    • Really? says:

      @Neil: The Spurs Dynamic Duo(Parker and Duncan), not big three becaue Ginobli isn’t that consistent, and Ginobli are the only real old players on that roster. So they aren’t really 10 years ahead of their time if you think about it.. Plus, if Greg Oden goes to the Heat, they’ll have a bit more size than they used to. Also, they played BETTER with a smaller lineup(3-1 vs Spurs), so the Spurs “exposing” the Heat didn’t mean much cuz they played better smaller.

    • juan ghetto cruz says:

      hi haters,, move on drose will be injured before all star breaks coz his only 1 time mvp clown,, pacers ha ha,, game 7 swagger where u at??? heat 3 PEAT BABY…

    • ac says:

      You should stick to writing music. Your knowledge of basketball is terrible.

  55. Gohan says:

    The Nets going to be great with this starting five

  56. flowson says:

    In my opinion

    1: Miami
    2: Indiana
    3: Brooklyn
    4: Chicago
    5: New York
    6: Atlanta
    7-8: Milwaukee, Detroit, Toronto, Cleveland, Washington

    But honestly the 7 and 8 spots are up for grabs for any team that isn’t the Bobcats (even with Jefferson, a losing culture doesn’t change overnight) or Philly (Trading Jrue Holiday, and adding two rookies.

    Don’t sleep on Orlando though, surprised nobody has mentioned them at all. They have a talented young core in Harkless, Vucevic, Harris and now Oladipo. With other players like Nelson, Glen Davis, Afflalo, Udrih, Harrington if he decides to play. They have a chance to be the Denver of the East Coast if they develop well enough as a team.

  57. Dre Conch says:

    I think the Knicks are being very underrated, the addition of Andrea Bargnani is a huge plus. I dont think the additions of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry can carry the Nets to 55+ wins, which I think the Knicks can do because we won 54 games last season. I wont be surprised if the Knicks battled for a top 3 or 2 seed just like last season.

    • Dre Conch says:

      People, please stop overlooking the Knicks, they will finish in top 3 in Eastern Conference with Miami and Indiana. How bout Brooklyn 4 and Chicago 5 or visa versa. I dont see how adding three guys in Garnett, Pierce, and Terry who are on their last legs makes you that much better and the Chicago Bulls have not done much to improve while every other team in the East has. I see a 1st round rematch of Nets Bulls in playoffs as the 4 and 5 seeds and the heat, knicks, pacers the top 3 teams in the East.

      • Vante says:

        Yes the knicks are good but I would like to see them and Brooklyn battle it out in the first round at the 4 & 5 spots

    • majestic says:

      How is that? when the nets had 1 less win at season end. beat them all season with just DW, JJ, BL. And you mean to tell me additions of KG/PP/JT to the Knicks just adding AB. kill yourself plz

  58. kenny says:

    looking at the east now it’s finally caught up with the west from top to bottom this maybe one of the most interesting seasons in a long time

    • Derpicus Trollington says:

      The East is catching up to the West but is in not caught up just yet. The East have 3 teams that are known to fight for an entrance into the finals, CHI, MIA, IND, and maybe BKN but I need to see them in action first. On the other hand, the West have OKC, Spurs, Clippers, Rockets, Warriors, Grizzlies that will all compete for an entrance into the Finals.

  59. Damian Batista says:

    1. Miami
    2. Chicago
    3. Indiana
    4. Brooklyn
    5. New York
    6. Atlanta
    7. Washington
    8. Cleveland
    I wanna see Heat and Cavs against each other in the playoffs that would be a good series

    • 314huSTLa56 says:

      Knick are under rated got better each yr if healthy top 3 seed mark my words

    • NM says:

      Cavs would obviously lose 4-0

    • Derpicus Trollington says:

      Heat vs Cavs 1st round sounds fun, It will be a Heat sweep but it would be interesting to see how the Cavs fans would react after the game 4 and the sweep, whether they’ll boo LeBron or praise him and tell him to come back to the Cavs after playoffs is finished and free agency opens next summer.

  60. andrew says:

    I think saying the top half of this bracket is accurate, at least the teams in the top half are(not sure about those seeds though but they will not be facing each other in the first round without a doubt).

    But like most everyone here, I’m not sure about the rest. Detroit may sound like a nice fit but that team does not need the bad boy image anymore. If smith can play to his potential all season and doesn’t get caught up in petty nonsense then it will work out for him. But beyond that I don’t see them with better pieces than Cleveland. The pistons hanging on is entirely dependent on josh smith and that shouldn’t leave anyone warm n fuzzy.

    Washington will ONLY make it if these guys can stay healthy. I don’t see much improvement down low for them so their young studs will still be making more contact than they should and with how often these guys(and the talented cast of characters who were there before them) go down with injuries I have to believe the training staff there isn’t sub par.

    All that said I think Cleveland has a real chance to squeeze in at the bottom. They have the talent and as long as they stay healthy(which shouldn’t be a problem with a returning varejo to help in the low post and Bennett there to pull a defender out to open lanes for kyrie n Dion) they can make a playoff run. I don’t expect them getting far(especially considering they would.most likely play the heat) but it would be enough to lure a top tier guy with a max contract as well as give kyrie a taste of success n help convince him to stay n fight for a few more years.

    Ultimately, I think seeds 6-8 along with the two teams who just barely miss the playoffs will all have similar records. It will all depend on maturity n health.

  61. No Milwaukee bucks though? Seriously is a shocker to me smh

    • Pakyaw says:

      The bucks went to the playoffs by DEFAULT last time..they’re below .500 team.. Maybe the CAVS will make it , also by default…

  62. Pops says:

    Toronto 7/8

  63. T-Boss says:

    My feeling is no.6 Cleveland no. 7 Toronto. Many teams could fit at number 8. More trades and free-agents signing to come. Watch out! I wish Kevin Love could get traded to a championship contender team! Anybody feels the same way?

  64. lol says:

    Agreed for the most part, but I take Cavs as 8th.

  65. Blazer/ChicagoFan says:

    1. CHI
    2. MIA
    3. BKN
    4. IND
    5. NYK
    6. CLE
    7. DET
    8. WAS

    I think he was way off on the Wizards, they won’t get the #6 seed.

    • Pakyaw says:

      How about bulls in #4 1?really? All injured players…

    • oli says:

      What do you think about a potential Noah+Butler for Aldridge trade rumor? :p

      • WadeFan says:

        CHI cant be at #1 even with DRose returning. And your giving BKN too much credit without seeing them in action. But, I dont see CHI in 4 either you have to give em 2 or 3. And ATL being better than 5 of thesse listed teams???? Are you serious??? IND gave them a waxing and Josh Smith isnt even returning.

      • FettaFetta says:

        @oli I think its a stupid idea. Trade a young stud in Butler and their emotional leader in Noah for Aldridge? Nothing against LA, he’s an amazing player, but why would the Bulls want to change their team? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    • dill says:

      Atlant is better than five of those teams

    • WadeFan says:

      If I was to catagorize the standings I’d say

      1. Miami or Indiana
      2. Miamim, Indiana or Chicago
      3. Indiana or Chicago
      4-8 Who really cares. but I’m sure NY and BKN will be in there.

  66. Miami, Indiana, Chicago, and Brooklyn are light years ahead of everyone else in the East. The other entrants are faced with decisions. Should they (Bos., Tor., Mil.) pretend to compete while hoping to lose to gain better position in the loaded 2014 draft? Should young teams like Cleveland, Washington and Detroit strive for the playoffs or pile up expiring contracts while still showing improvement and potential in order to make a move in the Lebron/Melo auction next summer? If you’re not the big 4 you’re positioning for the future. I think the Cavs are steering that course better than anyone else right now. Sekou’s current predictions are about as good as possible at the present but making the playoffs is likely not an important goal for many of the teams in the east.

    • WadeFan says:

      Brooklyn is just throwing money hoping to hit something. They arent light years ahead of anyone. They have yet to prove anything to anyone. They didn’t even make it out of the 1st round while NY did. As for the other 3 I agree completely.

      • Sid says:

        The nets remind me of the ’04 lakers getting Gary Payton and Karl Malone. Instead of building towards the future, the ownership had hastily put together a group that really will only be able to compete for a title for one year. What happens when kg and pierce retire? You traded away most of your draft picks and much of your bench. And someone people think that the return of d rose will somehow cure the bulls anemic offense. They have no strong offensive players other than him. I do think adding bargnani was a good move for the Knicks because they lost copeland to the pacers and he is a good replacement. Now they have more scoring options besides melo. They got jr smith, bargnani, amare, and hardaway jr. It will be heat then pacers then Knicks.

  67. Ben One says:

    I think those 7th and 8th spots are totally up for grabs – but the first 6 seem locked in.
    Celtic’s really have no chance with Rondo missing action. Toronto seems less likely then these other squads to make the playoffs. I think that the Bucks are as likely to make it as a Rondo-less C’s + TO. This is going to be a festering cess-pool for that last spot DAMN

  68. B Radd says:

    I think Cleveland could use some veteran players that should start over their young core and then cut them lose when they are actually ready. Who to pick up is the question

  69. Simba says:

    Maybe I’m just another salty Knicks fan but the Nets above the Knicks? Don’t be naive man. Joe Johnson will be just as inconsistent as ever, KG and Pierce aren’t getting any younger despite what your fond memories of them may have you thinking. They have a ROOKIE coach in Kidd. Everybody seems to be lost in the novelty of it all and forgets that this team now has to develop chemistry. This isn’t the 08 Celtics where the Big 3 were all in their down years and knew they had to put aside their egos to get it done. You have a young Deron Williams, a young Brook Lopez turning into a star and a relatively young Joe Johnson making I believe the most on the team. They now have to prove they can put their egos aside so don’t just see the names on paper and elevate them to top 4 in the East.

    • jOLAN says:

      I agree with all that you said, but when you look at the knicks, the nets are still looking better. the knicks are trying to solve their problems with barnani? melo is your only good player, besides that you are relying on barnani and smith, and smith is pretty inconsistent himself, and wont play d. you have Williams against felton (nets win) Johnson vs shumpert/smith (nets win), pierce vs melo (knicks win) garnet vs stoudemire/barnani (tie) and lopez vs chandler (nets win). no way anyone is putting the knicks ahead of the nets this year.

      • Sintido kumon says:

        Yeah,just like no one would put the Knicks ahead of the pacerslast year…yes they did lose to the pacers but if they have a healthy Wallace and stoudamire,I think it’s a different story…

      • ac says:

        Chandler vs Lopez (tie) – Yes Lopez is much better on offense but Chandler when healthy can limit Lopez while still getting his 10 and 12 for the night

        Stat vs Garnett – NYK. Between Stat, Bargnani, CJ Leslie, Kenyon Martin (hopefully) they Knicks will wear him down. Garnett can’t play more than 30 min a game at his age and the Nets can’t afford anybody decent to back him up.

        Pierce vs Melo – Melo, hands down

        Johnson vs Shumpert – tie, with a slight lean towards Shumpert. Shump is on track to be 15pts/4ast’s this coming season and Johnson really slipped in his production last year.

        Felton vs Williams – I’ll give Brooklyn this one.

        Bench – NYK hands down. Smith, Tim Hardaway JR, Prigioni, Bargnani, CJ Leslie, Kenyon Martin (hopefully) vs Aandray Blatche, Mason Plumlee, Tyshawn Taylor, Mirza Teletovich?

  70. Canadian Cavs Fan says:

    I bet you anything the former coach of the year talking in the Knicks section was Sam Mitchell

  71. talavan says:

    I think Cleveland has a excellent chance of taking a spot, but saying that Boston and Toronto will “just miss the cut” seems like a significant stretch to me.

  72. matthew mathis says:

    I would pick cavaliers as the 8th seed.

  73. I find these to be very interesting choices. Teams in the top five I definity agree with. Teams 6th through eight to me seem to be the toughest to decide. If Washington Wizards don’t get in this season after adding Otto Porter, Glen Rice Jr. and Eric Maynor to back up John Wall somethings got to be wrong. The Detroit Pistons now definity have a shot with adding Josh Smith to this roster. Why not having the starting five of Monroe, Drummond, Smith, Caldwell Pope and Knight. That could be fun to watch. Toronto Raptors missing the cut I’m not sure of but Boston and Cleveland are up in the air. I like the addition of Millsap to Atlanta and if it weren’t for that I would have counted the Hawks out. I’m still shocked that Monta Ellis is a free agent and teams haven’t gone for him yet like Dallas. Atlanta, Charlotte or Cleveland. The Milwaukee Bucks I think are going to try and tank this season for the Andrew Wiggins Jabari Parker sweepstakes and if i were most teams I would too.

    • Dkaner says:

      Look for the Pistons to trade Monroe with one or both expiring contracts. My guess is that they try to get GAY first but then focus on RONDO if that falls through. Monroe is a nice offensive player but no defense and he is not as athletic of a player they will need with this new group of guys. Monroe would fit in nicely in Boston so if the focus is RONDO, a package of Monroe, Knight and a first rounder or two might do the trick.

      • Blah says:

        Monroe can’t play defense? I’d say he’s average, I mean, he led the team in steals last season after all. He’d probably be better at blocking if he could actually jump over a curb though…

      • boobooman says:

        Only a Boston fan would think this is a good deal. You are either greatly overrating the value of Rondo, or underrating the value of a Monroe. 23-year-old bigs, who average 16.0, and 9.6 get traded FOR packages, not IN packages, unless a superstar,or All-Star big is involved. Think of this: In 2007, a then 22-year old Al Jefferson averaged 16 and 11 for Boston, and he netted K.G. in his prime, and Rondo is not evenclose to being the playter KG was in his prime.

        I love the idea iof Rondo for Monroe in theory, but there’s no way the Pistons are trading their 23-year-old center, plus the 20-year- old Knight, plus cn expiring contract, plus a “first rounder or two” for a 27-year-old PG coming off knee surgery with a reputation of being “difficult”. A More logical trade would be Monroe and Stuckey for Rondo and a protected first.

    • I agree with you…but I think cleveland will get the 7th seed not the hawks

    • Irony says:

      JSmoove thrives at the 4 spot. Moving him to the 3 spot would just encourage him to shoot low percentage jumpers. I agree they might be thinking of trading monroe with the addition of Smith

      • celtic533 says:

        You guys are all underrating Rondo.However, a good trade for the Pistons would be Monroe,Jonas Jerebko for courtney lee,Fab Melo and any backup frontcourt player.