Of course, the East is supposed to come down to a few teams: the Boston Celtics, the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers. While the NBA tends to be predictable in that way, we know that some things can change. What if it’s not one of those three teams winning the Eastern Conference – who else could surprise? Here are three teams that could – if they catch the right breaks.
A lot of people think the Pacers are a longshot to win the Eastern Conference and as of right now, they are. However, remember that this is a team that took the Cleveland Cavaliers to the max last season, pushing them a full seven games in Round 1. They probably should have won that series. This is a team that’s very young and is going to improve after having another year together. Players like Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, Victor Oladipo and Doug McDermott are all 26 years or younger. They also added some bench scoring with Tyreke Evans, which really fortifies a second unit with Cory Joseph, Sabonis and McDermott.
This is a team that’s underrated right now. Are they as talented as Boston? No. But you never know what will happen over the course of a season and this team is capable of winning the East if everything goes their way.
The Bucks are a team that’s on many people’s sleeper lists. Everyone keeps waiting for them to put it all together and finally become a threat in the Eastern Conference. We know that they have one of the best players in the game in Giannis Antetokounmpo. It seems like many experts view him as a candidate for league MVP this year. He has a solid cast around him include Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton and now Brook Lopez in the starting lineup. On the bench, the team has Tony Snell, Ersan Ilyasova and first-round pick Donte DiVincenzo.
The Bucks still look like a team that’s lacking a little bit of something but they have the talent. With a player like The Grek Freak, they might have the best player in the conference. If that’s the case, who knows where he might be able to take them.
The Heat are a team that could surprise in the Eastern Conference but not in their current form. You might have heard that the Heat are angling to acquire Minnesota Timberwovles star Jimmy Butler. He’d also like to end up in Miami. If that happens and the Heat keep their core intact, this move could work out swimmingly for them.
The Heat won 44 games last season, which was good enough for third in the Eastern Conference. And that happened with Hassan Whiteside – a former star – essentially falling off in the second half of the season. However, if he’s back and motivated, and the team adds Butler to a cast that includes Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Johnson, Bam Adebayo and Dwyane Wade, this could be a surprise team in the East. One thing you can’t discount is the fact that coach Erik Spoelstra is one of the best in the business. Add a star to this case and maybe – just maybe – they can challenge for East supremacy.