NBA 2018-19: Eastern Conference standings predictions
The NBA season has begun and the Golden State Warriors will be looking to make it three NBA Championships in a row.
As hard as it may seem for any team to match up to the mighty Warriors, what will be interesting to see is how the Eastern Conference unfolds in the regular season and then going into the Playoffs.
The Eastern Conference, since the inception of the NBA, has generally been the weaker conference with most of the Western Conference teams being much stronger on paper.
But that just makes the East more interesting, doesn't it? The Eastern Conference has a reputation of being unpredictable and more often than not, we see the underdogs sneaking into the Playoffs in the 7th or 8th spot with a win-loss record of less than .500.
The Eastern Conference will be without their face, LeBron James, for the first time since he was drafted into the league by the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James will be up against the Golden State Warriors at least four times this season as the Los Angeles Lakers feature in the Pacific Division alongside the Warriors.
With LeBron moving to the Lakers and therefore, to the Western Conference, the East has significantly depleted in terms of retaining top NBA talent barring the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kristaps Porzingis, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Kemba Walker, to name a few.
But the Toronto Raptors managed to pick up Kawhi Leonard from the Western Conference's San Antonio Spurs in exchange for their very own 9-year veteran, DeMar DeRozan. Kawhi will be keen on stamping his authority on the relatively easier Eastern Conference and be the leader of the team from Canada.
With LeBron gone from the East, it is a chance for several players to now become the new face of the Eastern Conference and one would not want to bet against Leonard doing just that and taking Toronto to the NBA Finals.With LeBron no more in Cleveland, it is highly unlikely that the Cavs will make the Playoffs, never mind the NBA finals, this season. The real favorites will be the Boston Celtics and now, the Toronto Raptors with the addition of Kawhi.
The East has a few underdogs in the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers. These two teams could really upset the big guns in the Playoffs over a 7-game series and it will be really interesting to see where these teams finish in the regular season.
Let's have a look at which of the 8 teams out of the 15 are likely to make the playoffs at the end of the NBA regular season this year, from the East.
#1 Toronto Raptors
Predicted result (62-20)
With all due respect to DeMar DeRozan, a loyal star for the Toronto Raptors for multiple seasons, the Raptors made a brilliant move by picking up Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs as a replacement for their former leader.
Kawhi Leonard is a much better defender, one of the best in the league and is an equally good scorer who can change a game in a flash. Leonard is a superstar and now, as the main leader in the East, Leonard has a chance to dominate as the competition is less rigorous than the heavy West that he was a part of since he joined the league.
With the addition of Danny Green, Toronto have added another lock-down defender with an ability to hit shots. The Toronto Raptors are very strong defensively. Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas and Greg Monroe add to the defensive wall of the team from Canada.
Kawhi Leonard's deputy, Kyle Lowry will have a huge role to play again this season. Lowry is capable of averaging a double-double per game, since he will be the main ball-handler for this Raptors team now that DeRozan has departed for San Antonio.
The Raptors finished 1st in the East last season with a 59-23 record and they will look to better that this season. With their defense to likely be the main focus of the Raptors, especially on the road, they can definitely improve their 25-16 away record from last season.
Toronto will be looking to cross the 60 games win mark this time around and expect them to finish at the top of the Eastern Conference once again.