After four years of Miami Heat dominance, the Eastern Conference is once again competitive. At the moment there seems to be at least five teams with a solid chance to win the conference.
So ahead of what is set to be an intriguing season in the east, GMS takes a shot at some big predictions.
Prediction #1: The Chicago Bulls will have the best regular season record in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls are bringing back all of the team’s most important players, the only exception being forward Carlos Boozer. Personnel continuity will be a key difference in the regular season between Chicago, Miami and Cleveland.
While the Cavaliers and Heat are getting used to playing with their new rotations and schemes the Bulls will be rolling. I expect the Bulls to win ten of their first fifteen games next season as well as go on a ten game or more win streak before the all-star break. Winning 60 games in the East will be enough to have home court advantage, in the east anyways.
Predictions #2: Miami Heat is the second best regular season team in the East.
Prediction #3: LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers finish third in the East.
LeBron may know the state of Ohio like the back of his hand, but his teammates are nearly entirely new. The shear talent of the Cavaliers roster will prevent them from slipping any further than the third seed. Undoubtedly the Cavs will have to learn how to play together and really, a realistic expectation for Cavs fans is that the team meshes by the playoffs, in time to make a deep playoff run.
The Heat on the other hand are bringing back every franchise cornerstone other than LeBron while adding a few new bells and whistles. I expect the Heat to surprise a few teams, teams who think the only reason Miami was so competitive over the past few years was because of LeBron James.
Prediction #4: The Miami Heat win the regular season matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This is not to say LeBron’s Cavs won’t beat Dwyane’s Heat, but at the end of the regular season Miami will have the head-to-head advantage, 2-1.
Prediction #5: Chicago and Miami meet in the Eastern Conference finals.
Prediction #6: The Miami Heat represent the East in the NBA finals.
If Wade is near one-hundred percent, I’m betting on Miami. Derrick Rose is too much of a prima donna to will his team through the NBA playoffs. Cleveland is too young to preform adeptly enough in crunch time of big games during the playoffs. Indiana is too juvenile to make it back to the eastern conference finals much less NBA finals.
This leaves the veteran Miami Heat. The Heat are coming into the season with a massive chip on their shoulders and an urge to show LeBron and the NBA how superb they can be without King James.