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NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Teams at a Glance
A look at the eight teams representing the Eastern Conference in this year's NBA Playoffs
No. 1 CHICAGO BULLS (62-20)
The Bulls certainly didn’t enter the season as the favorites to win the East, but now they seem the favorite to perhaps win it all. They enter the playoffs on a nine-game winning streak, their longest since 2005, and never lost more than two games in a row all season. They are a deep team with only a few bumps and bruises, have the league’s MVP in Derrick Rose and are only hindered by playoff inexperience.
No. 2 MIAMI HEAT (58-24)
OK, the Heat didn’t go 82-0, but a No. 2 seed after the way things started is quite an accomplishment. The Heat have two of the best closers in the league in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but what after that? Miami’s depth and defensive abilities inside may hold the Heat back.
No. 3 BOSTON CELTICS (56-26)
Was this team doomed from the moment it traded Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City? The Celtics sat at 40-14 then and went 16-12 after the trade. There is little-to-no presence inside with Perkins gone and the O’Neals — Shaq and Jermaine — rarely, if ever, healthy. If age is just a number then Boston’s number might be up this season.
No. 4 ORLANDO MAGIC (52-30)
Dwight Howard and the Perimeters have a pretty tough road ahead of them. Like their counterparts to the south, the Magic are not very deep and outside of Howard’s presence inside, rely heavily on the outside shot. A first-round win is expected but the road through Chicago, Miami or Boston just to get to the NBA Finals is a tough task.
No. 5 ATLANTA HAWKS (44-38)
The Hawks were 34-21 at the All-Star break and closed out the season with a 10-17 mark, including a season-high six-game slide to enter the postseason. It’s hard to look favorably on those numbers and think much will be remedied in the playoffs.
No. 6 NEW YORK KNICKS (42-40)
The Knicks are back in the postseason for the first time since 2004 and could make some noise with the league’s second-best offense (106.5). However, being ranked 28th on defense and 20th in rebounding normally doesn’t equal success in the playoffs.
No. 7 PHILADELPHIA 76ers (41-41)
From 3-13 to start the season to a playoff run for coach Doug Collins and Co. was a great story. But injuries to Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala have come at the worst time. Philly could make some noise with its inside players, but not enough to win a series.
No. 8 INDIANA PACERS (37-45)
From firing Jim O’Brien on Jan. 30 with a record of 17-27 to a 20-18 close to the season under Frank Vogel is to be commended. But the 37 wins are the lowest for a playoff team since Atlanta’s 37 in 2008.
— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter