*Editor's Note: This was supposed to run preseason.*
Drew: So here we are. The illustrious one-two spots in the East. This could really go either way for me. The Bulls are going to be phenomenal next season with Rose back on board. He's a game changer, and the team finished with 45 wins last season without him. I'm totally comfortable saying he's worth at least 10 more wins for the Bulls, so that puts them around 55 wins at least?
Then you factor in the burnout from three straight NBA Finals runs from Miami. Dwyane Wade's knee(s). Ray Allen's age. Shane Battier went to Duke. Odds are stacked against the Heat this year, and the Bulls are going to be fired up to take control of the conference.
But they won't, and I won't bet against LeBron James ever again. Bulls are my second seed, but they'll be riding Miami's tail till the season ends.
Kevin: Wait... Was that a shot at Duke?
Seth: Sorry, Drew. You should have gone with your first instinct. The Heat's only chance at having the best record in the East is Greg Oden playing like the guy picked ahead of Kevin Durant. Chances of that happening are...well, slim.
In fact, let's have a side bet: Who will play more minutes this season, Oden or Bynum? I got Bynum.
The Heat still have LeBron which is something. Beyond that, I refuse to get terribly excited about the rest of that aging group. In fact, my prediction is the Heat get bounced in the Eastern Conference Finals and James goes back to Cleveland to play with Kyrie and the two of them win 13 rings together.
Let's not forget just how freaking lucky Miami was not to lose Game 6 to the Spurs. THE SPURS!
LeBron is great. This team is not.
Kevin: There are quite a few guys at Sonics Rising who are also predicting that the Heat get bounced in the Eastern Conference Finals, mostly by the team I'm taking as the #2 team in the east, but just not quite there yet, Indiana Pacers.
You could honestly make a strong case for them to be the number one overall seed in the East. They are probably the deepest, most complete team. They have shooters, they have defense, they have rebounding, they have depth for days, they have an excellent coach, they have Larry Legend running the show again.
I just can't bet against LeBron James who is just figuring everything out. He's surrounded by guys who are old, overpaid and probably should be run out of town on a rail, but he's been to three straight Finals, won two in a row.
That is why Indiana is the perfect foil to Miami. A small, cold-weather, midwestern town vs. the flashy, large, tropical, playboy palace on the beach. It's like Steve Austin vs. The Rock in basketball form. Indiana is young and hungry, they took the champs to game seven and couldn't even come close to winning, they were squashed.
I do expect bigger things from Paul George and Roy Hibbert, Danny Granger is actually going to contribute somewhat and you just have to look at that bench. You take that bench and put it in Toronto and you have a playoff team. Honestly on paper, ON PAPER, the Indiana Pacers are probably the best team in the East one through twelve.
It's because they had the best offseason of any team in the league. They made all the right moves, fixed all the holes, got rid of the Hansbroughs, got a competent backup point guard and so on. I am so, so close into talking myself into Indiana being the best team in the East.
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