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ESPN has again brought 100 voters together to try to project the records of teams and certain awards. The Eastern Conference projected standings were released today, and since PD has had quite a bit of discussion on how the Pacers stack up against the rest of the East after the offseason moves, I thought this would have some insight into how national people think:
First, a point about the actual records. When building a consensus like this, the records are always going to be flattened out somewhat. So there will probably be more than 1 team in the East win more than 50 games, and there will probably be more than 2 teams in the East win less than 30. But when calculating averages between a large sample of voters with divergent opinions, that's what they came out to.
The Heat have a 10 game advantage over anybody else. The Heat would have already been on a different level than anybody else, and add in the respect given to defending champions and this is not shocking whatsoever.
The Celtics and the Pacers are both projected to win 50 with the Celtics slightly ahead. So the thought that some Pacers fans are homers for just suggesting that the Pacers are on the same level as the Celtics appears to be incorrect. It may or may not actually be true, and there certainly is room for divergent opinions, but it's not just Pacers fans saying it. It seems to be the prevailing opinion going into the season that those two teams are close.
What did surprise me though was right after that. There's a four game gap down to the Bulls, with the Nets, 76ers, and Knicks close behind them. A four game gap in an exercise like this is huge. It clearly shows that while some individual writers might put one of these teams in the top three spots, as a whole they consider them a step below than the Celtics/Pacers.