All the major moves of the offseason are now done and we know how most of the teams will look like for the 2012-2013 season. With big moves in the Eastern Conference, in players moving in and out, the New York Knicks will be in position to upgrade their seeding from last year’s seventh place finish.
The Miami Heat are the heavy favorites to finally lock up a number one in the LeBron James era. In the two years Miami’s Big 3 have been together, the Chicago Bulls have claimed the number one seed in the East. That will most likely change. Not only will their star point guard Derrick Rose miss the beginning, but also they lost a lot of their bench and depth this offseason. With the uncertainty of Rose, loss of chemistry, added with the improvement of the Pacers, the Bulls will not be the one seed and might not win the division. I would pick the Indiana Pacers over the Bulls for the division this year.
Seeds 2-8 are up for grabs in the East. I believe the 2nd seed and most of the higher seeds will come out of the Atlantic Division. Four out of the five teams are most likely making the playoffs: New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, and Philadelphia 76ers. Avoiding a bottom four seed would be clutch since you want home-court advantage and avoid playing Miami early.
I think the Knicks can finish 2nd but they will struggle with all their new faces. The Philadelphia 76ers will be their competition for the division. I’m not buying the Nets stock just yet. No depth, pressure of becoming the NBA’s new “hot” team, and I really don’t think Brook Lopez is a top tier big man like everyone makes him out to be. The Celtics of course will always be there with Rajon Rondo and Doc Rivers, but them capturing the division would shock me.
The race for the Atlantic and possible No. 2 or 3 seed will come down to the Knicks and Philly. If the Knicks gel quickly and don’t struggle early like they did last year under Mike D’Antoni, there is no reason why they can’t finish 2nd or 3rd. I believe the Pacers will be up there as well in the top 3.
Last year’s No. 6 seed Orlando Magic will probably not make the playoffs so that is one spot open. The fifth seed Atlanta Hawks will take a step back and I wouldn’t be surprised if they missed the playoffs, or are an eighth seed at best.
My Top Seven teams in the East look like this: Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, and Brooklyn Nets. Those 2-7 seeds can shape up anyway. I would love the see the Cleveland Cavaliers capture the No. 8 seed and have LeBron go back there to start the defense of his first title. Talk about Must-See TV. Kyrie Irving taking down big bad LeBron? We can only dream.
The Knicks have high expectations this year. They must try to finish in the top three to try to avoid Miami in the first and second round. I feel like they can beat anyone else in the first two rounds and I can’t put into words of what an Eastern Conference Finals against Miami would mean to basketball in New York. The games still have to be played and I am beyond excited for this upcoming season.