Here's how East will finish . . .
By Greg Anthony
The balance of power has gone from West to East. The East is deeper and better at the top with three of the top four teams in the league residing in the East. Here's how I see the East seedings come playoff time:
Best backcourt. Best frontline. And people forget this is a young basketball team and still improving. Flip Saunders gives them freedom offensively, which could be the deciding factor. They also have motivation: 1.) That it wasn't just about Larry Brown; and 2.) The way they lost in the Finals last season. Only question is: Will they get enough support off the bench?
Eventually, Shaq will be there and they'll be dangerous, having the most talented 1-2 punch in the league. Chemistry may be an issue, but they know how to play winning basketball. The main question is: Are they good enough defensively to hang with the likes of San Antonio, Detroit and Indiana? Jury's still out.
Getting this high spot only because they're a division champ. When I look up and down the Atlantic Division, the best player is Allen Iverson
, who is motivated and off to a great start. The Sixers haven't gotten anything out of Kyle Korver
and Andre Iguodala
. Chris Webber
's been decent, not great, but they're the team in the division that has the most room for growth. Defensively, they'll get better.
Their defense can win a championship. Not sure about their offense. Point-guard play is gonna be the key. I don't think they get enough easy baskets. They struggle to score and are unable to take advantage of their defense. Rick Carlisle's greatest challenge is to make them more effective on the offensive end.
They have enough talent. And they have the X-factor, LeBron James
. But if they want to get to the next level, LeBron has to 1.) become a real leader -- leadership allows you to win on the road. They're a bad road team; and 2.) become more dominant on the defensive end -- the Cavs don't guard any position well on the floor.
Not a lot of people are talking about them, but never discount the experience they gained from last season. This is a young basketball team that has learned how to win and plays defense. The Scott Skiles-Ben Gordon
feud is an issue, but not something that's going to knock them off track. I worry most about whether they have enough low-post scoring.
With the best perimeter trio in the conference, except in Detroit, they'll find a way to get to the playoffs. But when I think about their frontline, a big question mark blinks in my head. Other than Nenad Krstic
's offensive outbursts here and there, they put up nothing. Marc Jackson
, Jason Collins
and Krstic don't have the overall athleticism to compete.
. They have depth to go along with great point guard play. Terry Stotts has been pushing the right buttons. They can shoot from the perimeter, score in the open floor or with their backs to the basket. They've already proven they can go on the road and win. They also have a chance to be a good defensive team and will benefit from playing in the best division in basketball.
: I just don't think they can replace Larry Hughes
' overall game. And they don't have enough on the frontline; they're more perimeter oriented than last year. They're a solid basketball team, but not ready to get back in the playoffs this season.
They don't have a point guard. They need to address that issue. They miss the stability that Gary Payton
provides. They don't have decision-making at that position and that's going to hurt them.