Staff Writer: Ryan Ward
The NBA regular season is quickly coming to an end with less than 15 games left for most of the teams around the league. With the regular season ending all the playoff bound teams in the NBA are either trying to hold on their seeds or improve their position before the postseason.
Here are how things shape up in the Eastern Conference if the playoffs were to start today:
#1 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #8 Toronto Raptors
It would be hard to argue that the Cavs aren’t the best team in the league right now. LeBron James and company have the best record in the league and will almost certainly head into the playoffs that way, but the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers might be able to close the gap if Cleveland begins to struggle.
Right now the Cavs are red hot and riding high as LeBron James is on his way to winning his second straight NBA MVP and Cleveland is gearing up for what might be a championship run in the playoffs.
There first opponent will more than likely be the Toronto Raptors who have played well at times this season, but won’t be able to put much of fight against LeBron James and company.
The health of Shaq and Antawn Jamison will determine the outcome of this series. I really can’t see Chris Bosh and company being much of a challenge, but if Shaq and Jamison aren’t 100%, Bosh might have a good series.
Series Prediction: 4-1 Cleveland Cavaliers
#2 Orlando Magic vs. #7 Charlotte Bobcats
The defending Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic are poised to make another run at an NBA title this season as they will come into the postseason with a lot of confidence knowing they dominated the Cleveland Cavaliers last season in the playoffs.
Before the Cavs and Magic face off, they will have to contend with the up and coming Charlotte Bobcats in the first round. The Bobcats, like the Magic, could give the Cavs a run for their money if they meet in the playoffs, but I am not sure they will be able to compete with Dwight Howard and company.
The Magic will have the edge in the paint and on the perimeter which means they could quite possibly sweep the Bobcats in four games.
Series Prediction: 4-0 Orlando Magic
#3 Boston Celtics vs. #6 Miami Heat
The Boston Celtics aren’t getting any younger and this season was a big indication of that as they struggled with injuries to their big three (KG, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen), but they saw Rajon Rondo get even better as it has become more and more apparent that the Celtics will be his team in the near future.
Despite not being the dominant team we remember from a couple of seasons ago, Boston can still hang with the best of them and will almost certainly advance to the second round of the playoffs.
The Miami Heat will come into this series once again trying to prove they can play with the big boys in the East, but even though they have Dwyane Wade, who will be a matchup nightmare for the Celtics, the Heat still have a ways to go before they can become a title contender once again.
Series Prediction: 4-2 Boston Celtics
#4 Atlanta Hawks vs. #5 Milwaukee Bucks
I believe the series between the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks will be the most intriguing of all in the Eastern Conference as both of these teams are young squads on the rise!
The Hawks have the better all around team with a more polished game plan and chemistry, but the Bucks have Brandon Jennings who could very well be a wildcard in the playoffs as he is explosive and unpredictable. With Jennings on the floor, anything can happen, but in the end I believe the Hawks experience outweighs the Bucks talent.
Series Prediction: 4-3 Atlanta Hawks