LeBron James.

LeBron James admits "the east is pretty damn good this season"

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When multiple All-Stars left the Eastern Conference in the summer, it led many people to declare that there was an imbalance in comparison to the west.

The likes of Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony and even Paul Millsap all left the east via trades or free agency in the offseason and it significantly strengthened the Western Conference.

It raised doubts about how competitive the east would be and this potentially played a huge role in the NBA altering the All-Star format this year, scrapping the traditional matchup between the two conferences.

But in the opening months of the season, it's fair to say the competition in the east is very much alive.

The doubters have been left to eat their words as several teams have sprung a surprise with just how good they've been.

The Indiana Pacers were heavily criticized for trading George for Oladipo but the latter has had an outstanding year, leading his new team to a 19-19 record and firmly in the hunt for a playoff place.

The New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, and Philadelphia 76ers have also shown improvements and the level has been better than most people expected.

New York Knicks v Chicago Bulls

The Cleveland Cavaliers are still considered the favorites to win the east this year but it certainly won't be as easy as they've had it before.

Their 102-88 loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night showed that they will have strong challengers in the form of their former teammate Kyrie Irving and the men in green.

In recent campaigns, the Cavs have coasted through the regular season and often disregarded the importance of it. They can't get away with it this year, however, as there are teams ready to knock them off.

As well as the Celtics, the Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks have their eyes set on upsetting the Cavaliers.

Toronto Raptors v Denver Nuggets

LeBron James is certainly aware of this and has warned his Cavs teammates about the threat they face in the east and how they must rise to the challenge.

"I'm always concerned about other teams getting better and better," James said after the defeat to Boston, per CBS Sports. "But I'm more concerned about us getting better and better. That's the bigger thing.

"Washington and obviously this team right here, Miami is trying to get better and better, Toronto is playing exceptional basketball right now. The East is pretty damn good this year, and right now we're not so good.

"[We were] great, [now] not so good. See what happens next. But you've always got to be concerned with the competition, for sure."

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics

Cleveland has lost four of its last five games and has entered a slump after winning 19 of 21 before that.

But their only win during their recent stretch came with Isaiah Thomas finally taking to the court and adding another dimension to the team with 17 points.

Once they get him integrated into their lineup, the Wine and Gold should become a real force again.

Central Division
Eastern Conference
Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James

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