The Eastern Conference Landscape

As the Celtics fill out what appears to be a deeper and more athletic roster for the 2012-2013 season, it is important to take a quick survey of the Green's toughest competitors and see where they are at. Some said things fell the C's way last season which allowed them to advance to the ECF and that may be true, but Green, Sullinger, Melo, Lee and Terry make this team as deep as they have been since year one of the Big 3 (if not deeper). A quick peek at the top contenders...

Chicago- Da Bulls are a team that has had a rough stretch the last couple months. Reigning league MVP Derrick Rose tore his ACL in the playoffs and is supposed to be back in January. That is all well and good for them to say, but an ACL is a 2 year injury in basketball and the scorer people somehow term a “Point Guard” will not be right for a good while. Meanwhile, the team has a big decision on whether to match the Rockets Poison Pill Offer Sheet to backup Center Omer Asik. Asik is one of the better defensive big men in the league, but paying him 5M, 5M, and 15M for the next 3 seasons is ludicrous. Meanwhile, Chicago was unable to lure Free Agent targets OJ Mayo, Courtney Lee, and several other targets that they coveted in. They added former fan favorite Kirk Heinrich and drafted Kentucky PG Marquis Teague. Suddenly, one of the Celtics toughest matchups in the East looks entirely vulnerable, at least for this coming season with the return on D-Rose up in the air. 

Miami- The Heat come off of their championship as the heavy favorites to win the Eastern Conference for the third consecutive season. Adding  RayRay as a spot up shooter could be deadly if Ray finds a way to stay healthy at age 38 and remain productive. With Wade and James’ ability to break their guys down off the dribble, Allen figures to get a myriad of open looks from downtown, coming off back to back seasons of shooting the 3 at about 45%. One thing to keep an eye on is the fatigue factor. Though he seems like an indestructible superhero at times, LeBron is coming off back to back 100 game seasons and is just beginning what figures to be a long summer season into the medal round of the Olympics. Meanwhile, Wade has looked beat up lately and Bosh is coming off an injury. If any of this catches up to the Heat, they will look a heck of a lot more beatable heading into the playoffs. Even if healthy, with Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee in the fold, the Celtics figure to match up much better on the wing than they did last year when they took the Heat to the brink of elimination.

Indiana-After matching Portland’s Max Offer Sheet for Center Roy Hibbert, the Pacers bring back a young promising core for another run at the playoffs. Unless they move Danny Granger or Hibbert has some sort of coming out party this year, the Pacers appear to be stuck in Atlanta Hawks territory. They figure to be one of the best teams in the conference, but likely are looking at a 4 or 5 seed as they lack the elite starpower to win 4 consecutive playoff series (or even 3 to advance out of the East). Paul George is a nice young player, but he better develop into a bonafide star or Indiana is going to be stuck where no NBA team wants to be stuck for the foreseeable future.
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