It’s almost been a certainty over recent years that a team with LeBronJames as leader was going to win the Eastern Conference. This season that is all changing, given the fact that the former Cleveland Cavaliers star has now transferred to the LA Lakers. It would seem as though the Eastern Conference is more open than it has been for a while, with the Boston Celtics looking strong and the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76er’s gaining ground.
We take a look at these three teams, and Milwaukee Bucks who are look like having one of the best outside chances. What will happen in this year’s Conference, given that the influence of James is no more.
When you consider the Celtic’s performance last season, without the assistance of two of their best players, Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, for much of the time, you have to reckon they are in good shape this time around. They managed to achieve a 55-27 record in 2017-18 on their way to the Eastern Conference Finals. This season, Hayward and Irving are back and the Celtic’s squad looks to have the most strength in depth. They have to be the favorites to triumph in the Eastern Conference.
It was inevitable that Jimmy Butler was going to make the move from the Minnesota Timberwolves. It’s been obvious for a while that Butler wanted away and that he was not a fan of playing alongside certain team mates such as Karl-Anthony Towns. The situation was not a good one for Butler or for the team.
What was more of a surprise was that Timberwolves traded Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers. The move has the potential to rock the boat in the Eastern Conference. It certainly gives the Sixers their best chance for success in a long time.
The Milwaukee Bucks do not seem to have the strength that teams like the Celtics and Sixers do, but they are bringing back all the players that produced a solid 44-39 record in 2017-18, including Giannis Antetokounmpo who should be one of the best players in this season’s Conference. Add to that the introduction of a coach, in Mike Budenholzer, who should open up the offense and you can see that at the very least the Bucks should triumph in the Central Division.
The Raptors are a team that is on the rise. Whether this season will be their time is up for debate, but the addition of Kawhi Leonard to the team has to be a good thing. He has the potential to add the extra winning touch to a team that already had enough talent to achieve 59 victories last season. Leonard arrived from San Antonio Spurs together with Danny Green who offers the type of solid play that a Conference winning team needs.
The Conference is definitely not a one-horse race this season, although Celtics look to have the overall strength to win over other contenders at the end of the day.