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Eastern Conference playoff preview

Nick Sannicandro April 28, 2012 Uncategorized 16 Comments

As part two of our playoff preview (part 1 here); lets take a look at the Eastern Conference. While the East may be a bit weaker than the West this year, there is no shortage of competition to take the East crown. So without further adieu lets do this…

The Favorites

Derrick-rose

The Chicago Bulls are the clear cut favorite out of the East. They've managed to rack up a very impressive record and the top seed in the East which is impressive for any team to do;but what many fans will fail to remember is that the Bulls were able to do this without their best player for much of the season. Derrick Rose was out for much of the season with various injuries yet the Bulls kept chugging along. Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and CJ Watson stepped up tremendously in their captains absence all season, but when Rose returned the Bulls seemed almost unstoppable. There is one team that matches up well against Chicago with a healthy Rose, the only question is whether we will actually see that matchup?

The Forgotten Soldiers

Boston-celtics-big-three



All homer-ism aside (those of you that have read my work all season, I continually harped that the Celtics are dead in the water and I still don't believe they have enough to win it all, but lets continue) the Celtics are showing signs that they will be a tough out for whomever they face this postseason. While people will try to compare them to the Spurs, the two teams couldn't be any more different. The Spurs are in far better shape than Boston. Where San Antonio has been able to find gems in the draft, the Celtics have been stuck with JR Giddens, Lester Hudson, and Semih Erden. The Spurs have a legitimate chance of staying relevant after Duncan leaves, the Celtics? Not so much. 

But for this season, Doc Rivers has really captured the attention of his squad and deserves to be mentioned as a candidate for Coach of the Year. Avery Bradley has surprised many across the league (but not the loyal Texas Longhorns fans), and Kevin Garnett hasn't just found the fountain of youth…he's been doing cannonballs into it since the All Star break. The Celtics will cruise past Atlanta in the first round, but its lining up to be a second round matchup with the Bulls and I like how the Celtics match up. A combination of Rondo and Bradley defending an injured Rose will flat out wear him out. The only question that remains is do they have enough to beat the Heat, Pacers, or Sixers?

The Underdogs

Hibbert_300

The Indiana Pacers are such an enjoyable story. They are every definition of the word "team". Top to bottom their starting five is extremely solid, with no true superstar they are a team of very good players which sometimes can make up for having no star. Teams that have had the most success against the new Big Three format in the NBA are the teams that are solid top to bottom. The Pacers may be the best example of this and an example what teams will attempt to build around in the future. 

Roy Hibbert has quietly turned into one of the best Centers in the NBA, he is a solid 7'1'' and his post game has improved tremendously since entering the league. Danny Granger is still doing Danny Granger things while Paul George has emerged into a very good all around player. The Pacers also have Psycho T Tyler Hansborough, George Hill, Darren Collison, and David West. The Pacers run the floor at will and can defend with the best of them (ranked 10th in Def eff.) I'll take a team of 12 over a trio of buddies in Miami any day. 

So who takes the cake? 

This is a VERY tough call. Don't get me wrong I really want to see the Celtics make this happen but like eating reheated McDonalds, I just can't get the taste of how they played the first half of this season; it quite literally made me hate a few players on this roster for how indifferent they became. They will let Celtics fans down. The Bulls would be the easy pick, but for a #1 seed they still have a ton of holes, that bench is ugly and Rose's health is a big question mark. Miami has even more question marks, Lebron and the word clutch haven't slept in the same bed in…forever and Miami's bench is ho-ho-horrendous. So whats that leave us with?  The Knicks….just kidding. 

Representing the Eastern Conference will be the Indiana Pacers. Don't think I'm just riding the hot hand here. I pegged the Pacers as one of the teams to make noise at the end of last season, in my preseason preview elsewhere I declared that they would be the "team on the rise" and I am sticking by my guns. Why? The Pacers really impressed me last season with how hard they fought the top seeded Bulls in the first round of last seasons playoffs. The Pacers fought tooth and nail every game and just narrowly missed making that series a six or seven game affair. Now, a year older, a year smarter and adding key pieces such as David West the Pacers are going to be a really tough out, and it'll take someone from the Western Conference to make it happen. 

Pacers logo 2

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  • Mileke

    I can see where you come from in regards to the Celtics, but boy do you make a bold prediction picking the Pacers. Not only is it shocking, I don’t agree at all. I would say the Knicks have a better shot than the Pacers have, but that’s just my opinion. To me, the 3 contenders in the East are the Heat, Knicks, & Celtics. Should be fun to watch!

  • James Eisenman

    Not even a mention of Miami? While I hate them, this guy is nuts

  • paul

    This is really all crap anyways though. Every team in the East this season has major flaws, regardless of what their records might show. Its really a toss up this year, especially where Miami’s bench is so bad

  • paul

    also, if boston goes down and indy goes on, i’m all for indy taking the east

  • KY Celts fan

    You predict a Spurs-Pacers Finals. I think that would be Stern’s worst nightmare.

  • bob

    that’s just stupid. the pacers? please… as much as i hate them the heat will not need more than five games to finish them off. i really don’t get where did you came up with this.

  • Nick Sannicandro

    With chicagos chances all but gone indy, boston and miamis chances all just improved greatly. My pick wasn’t made out of hatred for the heat, but lets be honest did any of you watch how the heat played at the end of this season? They looked terrible, and much of that was because of their abysmal bench. You dont win championships without a halfway decent bench. Shane Battier cant carry that whole group sorry, Miami doesnt cut it

  • sev

    maybe miami doesn’t cut it as the knicks will be hyped and take them to 6 or 7 games as the superstars will try to take over. Both have no point guards and then assuming the heat win they have a had out against the pacers. Pacers will have the big edge on the glass and an edge at the point, but the heat will win that series. If they don’t, I have confidence the celtics can beat the pacers. Now that rose is out for the playoffs(torn acl), celtics have a chance, as I felt the bulls weren’t a good matchup against the celtics as there just as tough, and would murder them on the glass. I wouldn’t be surprised if rondo could lead them past the heat, but if you think the pacers will be the heat, then forget about it, the celtics will be Conference champs.

  • Mileke

    Tonight proves why your prediction of Pacers going all the way is absurd.

  • Nick Sannicandro

    everyone can praise or criticize the predictions all they want but the reality is all it is, is an educated guess based on watching countless amount of games all season of every team. Am I wrong ever? of course, am I right ever? of course. When I’m wrong I stand up and admit it but theres no need to attack a prediction without making a case for what you believe in. If you dont agree with me, make a case for what you think and bring stats to the table and I’ll gladly take part in a sports debate with you

  • sev

    stats to the table=losing to the magic at home….nah i’m just joking man, I know what your saying. I thought they would be a good team but not better than the bulls(before rose injury), heat or celtics. But front court, coaching and depth are all in their favor, so its not that ridiculous.

  • bob

    hey nick,
    its fine you think the heat bench is weak and i will be the happiest heat hater on earth if you are right and the pacers eliminate them somehow. but after watching the playoffs the last 20+ years, you just know indi ain’t got what it takes to make it to the finals.
    its not the weak eastern conference of 2000-03 – you now have the heat the bulls, that even without rose have a stronger case than the pacers, & our celtics.
    the nice series they gave last year & david west don’t make them contenders.
    i would give them a 6% chance of making it.

  • Nick Sannicandro

    See thats the thing about people with playoff teams. Everyone says “they cant do it” because they’ve “never done it before” but see that logic is flawed because at one point, EVERY team was a playoff virgin, eventually a team will have to break through. So to discredit a team because they dont have the experience is hogwash to me I think Vogel is a much better coach than Spoelstra I think the Pacers bench is better than Miamis, and I think the Pacers have the edge at the 5, and 1 spot Hibbert v. Anthony Collison v Chalmers yes the Heat have three stars but the pacers have depth. Its not a cupcake for Miami like you’d think itd be the Pacers will win the first round series in six and we will see. The worst thing Miami can do is sweep New York though, all I’m going to say

  • Kricky

    Kudos for going out on a limb. It makes interesting reading. But I think your predictions are way off. You need a superstar in the playoffs to make the kind of shots KD made yesterday. And Indi does not have one (Exhibit A: Danny Granger in the last couple minutes of yesterday’s game).
    With Rose out its either Miami or our beloved Cs. And I like our chances:)

  • bob

    once again i would love to be wrong on this. you are right every team once was a playoff virgin but but i just can’t think of one playoff virgin who made it to all the way to the finals in their first attempt in recent memory.
    the edge the pacers got in the 1 and 5 is minor compered to the huge advantage miami got on the 2 and 3, hill and hibbert are just not that good…

  • DWBI

    Okay so here;s how it will actually go down.
    Chicago beats Philly 4-1. advances to next round.
    Celtics beat Hawks 4-2. Celtics Advance to face Bulls.
    Pacers beat Magic 4-2. Pacers advance.
    Heat beat Knicks 4-1. Heat Advance.
    Bulls beat Celtics 4-2. Bulls advance.
    Heat beat Pacers 4-1. Heat advance.
    Heat take out Bulls 4-3 Advance to Finals.
    Here’s your East. Watch and keep track. Hahahah
    West
    Spurs defeat Jazz 4-2.
    Grizzlies defeat Clippers 4-3.
    Thunder defeat Mavs 4-2.
    Lakers defeat Nuggets 4-1.
    Spurs defeat Grizzlies 4-3.
    Lakers defeat Thunder 4-3.
    WCF
    Lakers defeat Spurs 4-2
    NBA Finals
    Heat vs. Lakers Toss up. Idk who’d win.
    This is just MY prediction based off of my knowledge of the rosters and how each team would match up in MY opinion. These playoffs can go either way.
    NBA Contenders:
    Thunder
    Lakers
    Spurs
    Grizzlies
    Heat
    Celtics
    Bulls
    Pacers
    Hawks
    Any of these teams can make it far.