With the Eastern Conference cradling most of the super teams that formed this past offseason, the most elite of those talent-packed teams are already beginning to come forth and have the Cavs in their crosshairs.
The Cleveland Cavaliers will most likely continue to have a grip on the number one spot, but the rest of the East is looking like a tossup between a few standouts. There are four teams preparing to hold their own against the Cavs in the East come playoff time. Two of which are the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls, who recently battled in an explosive 107-100 shoot-out that left Boston on top, handing Chicago their first loss of the season.
Bulls take their first loss of the season to the Celtics pic.twitter.com/PDrdZnRdQ1
— Chicago Bulls (@ChicagoNation_) November 3, 2016
Up until then, the ghost of championships past appeared to be lurking in Chicago’s locker room as a result of their roster makeover. Chicago welcomed three-time champion guard Dwyane Wade along with veteran, one-time champion point guard Rajon Rondo to accompany star shooting guard Jimmy Butler, the guy who carried the Bulls last season. So, it is not a reach for the trio to warrant some championship level discussion in the city where championships were produced as if to be the result of some factory-like machine. The winning history of the team plus their newly added experience, place Chicago at an advantage. Even now with an imperfect record, the Bulls are not to be counted out.
— Vladimer Botsvadze (@VladoBotsvadze) October 18, 2016
Boston’s early win over a blazing Chicago automatically places them in a leading position in the East and the fact that their 5’9 point guard Isaiah Thomas has been averaging over 24 points a game doesn’t hurt either.
“Sometimes I’m in here alone, and I’m like, man, I play for the Boston Celtics … Like, it doesn’t make sense.”https://t.co/hL6sQtOTFx
— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) November 2, 2016
Chicago and Boston are not the only teams that are loaded and showing early promise this season. Coming up short in the Eastern Conference Finals (2-4) against the Cavaliers last season, the Toronto Raptors have not been shaken. In fact, team leader and shooting guard DeMar DeRozan is playing with a very visible chip on his shoulder. Wanting to pick up where he left off, DeRozan has been dropping between 30 to 40 points a night. With the help of point guard Kyle Lowry, the Raptors make passion and vengeance look like the perfect accelerant to fuel a rise to the top again.
DeMar DeRozan pts this season
The last 4 players to drop 30+ four times to start a season pic.twitter.com/JInjWtLzVq
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) November 3, 2016
Finally, the New York Knicks are another team that may have next up. Full of NBA All-Stars in Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah, and Derrick Rose, most of whom were received in the offseason, if any team can make a run for that top spot, theoretically it’s the Knicks. The Knicks have all of the pieces to the Eastern playoff puzzle, but what they may lack is time. While the other super teams are meshing and already soaring into wins, the Knicks have gotten off to a slow start. This almost certainly means that they will be playing catch up in their chemistry department. Luckily, this a normal side effect for most NBA super teams. A rocky start and a possibility of time constraints doesn’t compare to a roster as packed as theirs so they are definitely included in the running. They can coast into a leading spot off of pure talent alone.
When the Knicks finally have a real point guard who can move, attack the rim and draw defenders away from Melo: pic.twitter.com/4pmzarnF8v
— Knicks Memes (@KnicksMemes) October 30, 2016
Each of these teams will imminently face several obstacles before it’s truly go-time. Who knows, Cleveland may even be faced with a series of unfortunate events that legitimately leaves the East up for grabs. One thing is certain though, the reigning champions cannot leave the stones that are these teams unturned if they desire to capture the East once again. All 4 of these teams propose a prominent threat and are champing at the bit for an opportunity to cause the Cavs’ fatality in the East.