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maragin
01-31-2007, 12:03 PM
Now seed here: East outlook


http://espn-ak.starwave.com/i/columnists/legler_tim_30.jpg
By Tim Legler
ESPN.com


<!-- template inline -->Having recently passed the halfway point of the 82-game schedule, here's how I see the Eastern Conference finishing when the regular season wraps up on April 18 …

1. Detroit Pistons (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=det) -- This team will play better. They've proven they can raise their intensity when it counts, and they are still a better defensive team than Washington.
Chris Webber (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=1272) gives them the frontcourt help they needed. I played with him, and I know he's a very unselfish player who loves to make guards better. The Pistons will probably get 2 or 3 more shots a game because of his ability to thread the needle. Flip Saunders told us how he's had around 15 assists blown already because guys didn't see it coming. They'll learn.

2. Washington Wizards (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=was) -- It looks like Antawn Jamison (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3247) could be out three weeks, which was the word from Wizards coach Eddie Jordan on Tuesday's "NBA Coast to Coast" -- that could cost the team with the East's current best record (27-17) a spot in the seedings.
One thing the Wizards have improved on this year is imposing their pace on opponents. They're committed to running and an offense geared to shooting early in the shot clock. Caron Butler's emergence has meant they don't have to rely on the big night from Gilbert Arenas to win. It doesn't hurt that Arenas has emerged to join Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony as the most clutch shooters in the game.

3. Chicago Bulls (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=chi) -- If they obtained Pau Gasol (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3513), even if they gave up a Luol Deng (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3824), Andres Nocioni (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3882) or Kirk Hinrich (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3710) (but not Ben Gordon (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3820) or Ben Wallace (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3149)), then the Bulls would be my pick to win the East.
As it stands now, they're very difficult to defend, with great ball movement and chemistry. Their drawback is jump-shot reliance -- so until they diversify, maintaining that the Bulls could win would be a façade.

4. New Jersey Nets (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=njn) -- By default, Nets get No. 4 spot as the Atlantic champ. The Raptors were my preseason dark horse, but I still don't think they're consistent enough. The Nets are collectively better -- they just had a pretty good road trip. I am not sure if they trust or buy into Lawrence Frank, but their top three players make them their division's best.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=cle) -- The least creative offense in the league. I see a lot of frustration in the offense in LeBron James' body language. No easy answers to improving this team because you can't move their guards. As for the 124 they put up on Warriors on Tuesday without LeBron, I thought our guys on the set Tuesday plus the cameramen could have done some damage against that Golden State team.

6. Orlando Magic (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=orl) -- The Magic got off to a great start, but their youth is catching up to them. Relying on Dwight Howard (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3818) and Jameer Nelson (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3837) to be great is unwise because they're not there yet. Howard is going to be great in couple of years, but he still has to polish his footwork. Grant Hill's durability has been huge. But to go from missing the playoffs to the conference finals is not realistic.

7. Miami Heat (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=mia) -- They just need to get in playoffs. If they add Eddie Jones (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=2633) as seems likely, along with a Shaq comeback -- what team in the East would the Heat fear with those two? They're 2 games out of the No. 8 spot now.

8. Indiana Pacers (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=ind) -- After the recent big deal with the Warriors, a team that's still finding itself. They potentially have some great offensive strengths in adding Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3601) to go along with Jermaine O'Neal and Jamaal Tinsley, (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3528) if he stays healthy.

Rick Carlisle is one of the five best coaches in the game. When I look at that eight spot, I ask: do you believe in Knicks, Raptors and Pacers? The more complete team is Indy.

Still, here's how the Knicks could move into that eight spot: deal a guard for a consistent 3-point shooter. The Raptors, meanwhile, would need to see a bigger progression from rookie Andrea Bargnani (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4129). He's not yet the complementary player to Bosh that you want him to be. If Bargnani gives you 15-16 points per night, then watch out for the Raps.
When it gets down to it, I see a familiar script playing out in the East playoffs. Miami and D

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From : Link (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/dailydime?page=dailydime-070131&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab4pos3)

NPFII
01-31-2007, 12:31 PM
My top 8:
1. Detroit
2. Chicago
3. Washington
4. Toronto
5. Indiana
6. Cleveland
7. Miami
8. New Jersey

Orlando wont make it
Raptors will beat the Nets in the Atlantic
Indiana-Cleveland will be close for 5-6

AesopRockOn
01-31-2007, 12:51 PM
We're going to finish with a better record than the Cavs. Barkley said so.

FlavaDave
01-31-2007, 01:08 PM
Rick Carlisle is one of the five best coaches in the game.


Finally. I keep saying that Rick is considered by some to be a top five coach, and someone eventually calls me on it, and I say I remember reading it but can't say specifically who, and I get too lazy to Google it. Now I have a source.

Fool
01-31-2007, 01:35 PM
A poor one, but a source nonetheless.

Unclebuck
01-31-2007, 02:20 PM
A lot of the national experts believe Rick is a top 5 coach or at least a top 10 coach

Trader Joe
01-31-2007, 02:31 PM
Finally. I keep saying that Rick is considered by some to be a top five coach, and someone eventually calls me on it, and I say I remember reading it but can't say specifically who, and I get too lazy to Google it. Now I have a source.

You mean the same source who said during the Pacers-Pistons game that Tinsley has been dealing with injury problems all year? Yeah theres a guy that knows his stuff.

FlavaDave
01-31-2007, 03:18 PM
You mean the same source who said during the Pacers-Pistons game that Tinsley has been dealing with injury problems all year? Yeah theres a guy that knows his stuff.


Touche. But he's not the only one.

Oh, and Tinsley HAS been battling injuries all year, he just hasn't missed many games yet.

indyman37
01-31-2007, 03:36 PM
7. Miami Heat (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=mia) -- They just need to get in playoffs. If they add Eddie Jones (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=2633) as seems likely, along with a Shaq comeback -- what team in the East would the Heat fear with those two? They're 2 games out of the No. 8 spot now.
Wow...he makes Eddie Jones seem like a superhero. It almost makes him sound like he is better than Wade.

Fool
01-31-2007, 04:12 PM
A lot of the national experts believe Rick is a top 5 coach or at least a top 10 coach

I know UB, you really like Rick, and defense, and Jeff Van Gundy, and Eric Muscleman, and Peter Vescey. I like two of those as well.

BTW, the Pistons are over-rated on this list.