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Alborz Mohtashami (yeah that's my real name) aka Budweiser_Boy, BasketballBoards.net, July 16th, 2002

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First off, it's too early to decide who the playoff teams will be, because there's a free agent signing period. But here's a look at the Playoff picture in the East, <b>from my point of view</b>, as of right now.

<b>Atlanta Hawks</b>
The Hawks have one of the best front courts in the East, probably top-3. They have a top-5 PF in the East in Reef, and a top-5 PG in the East in JT. Don't forget they also have Theo Ratliff and Nazr Mohammed down low, and Toni Kukoc and Dermarr Johnson who IMO make this team a contender for a playoff spot in the east. But last year, they had injuries to key players, and I think if they can stay healthy they can make the playoffs with a low-40's win season.

<b>Boston Celtics</b>
The Celts have a really solid team and barring any injuries to Walker or Pierce, are a lock for the playoffs IMO. They have young talent in Kedrick Brown and Joe Forte (even though he gets no PT), and also have a veteran presence in Rodney Rogers and a good starting lineup that includes Kenny Anderson, Tony Delk and Tony Battie to compliment 'Toine and P2.

<b>Chicago Bulls</b>
No shot at the playoffs this year IMO. They have good veteran experience in Charles Oakley, but unfortunately that trade worked the wrong way for them. They have a ton of young talent in Fizer, Curry, Chandler and Jay Williams, and a great point forward in Jalen Rose. Still, they're too inexperienced to qualify for the playoffs this year I'm afraid, but in a few years, watch out.

<b>Cleveland Cavaliers</b>
Again, I don't think this team has a real shot at the playoffs this year. They have an awesome PG, top-3 in the NBA IMO, in Andre Miller, but unfortunately he still hasn't led them to the playoffs, and I don't really blame him with the supporting cast he has. Looks like another lottery pick for the Cavs.

<b>Detroit Pistons</b>
Like the Celtics, I don't really see anything changing for the Pistons. Still a playoff team.

<b>Indiana Pacers</b>
OK. The Pacers have one of the best starting front courts in the East, with Jerm O'Neal and Brad Miller. O'Neal was an all star last season and also the MIP, while Miller's addition allowed him to move back to his more natural PF position. The Pacers also have really good, however young, swingmen on the roster with Ron Artest, Al Harrington and Johnathan Bender. The latter two haven't done much prior to last season, but before Harrington got hurt he showed great signs of potential and so did Bender. Plus they had RoY candidate Jamaal Tinsley, who was quite the steal in the draft, averaging 8+ assists. Even though he started slowing down at the end of the season and his shot selection wasn't great, remember, it was only his first year... I can't believe some people are actually giving up on him. Oh yeah, and they also have that other guy.. Reggie Miller. Also Ron Mercer isn't as bad as his stats show. I think this team will definately contend for the playoffs, and with the youngens constantly improving and gaining playoff experience, the first round may not be all that's in store for this bunch next season.

<b>Miami Heat</b>
The Heat had some chemistry problems at the beginning of last season, starting off 5-23. But then they went on a massive tear and were just 4 games under .500 before finally running out of gas. If Zo can regain the form he had before, or at least somewhere near it, and the Heat keep up the pace they had in the middle of last season, they could make the playoffs.

<b>Milwaukee Bucks</b>
They have great back-court talent and a quality power forward in Anthony Mason. The problem is, other than Mase, they really have no front court presence, even in the East. If they are healthy then I think they could definately make the playoffs, but not with a 50-win season. Not even close, and don't forget, Mase ruined their chemistry a little last year too.

<b>New Jersey Nets</b>
This team is only going to get better. With last year's rookies Richard Jefferson and Jason Collins getting tons of playoff experience, and Jason Kidd running the show, I seriously don't see this team getting any worse.

<b>New Orleans Hornets</b>
The deepest team in the East, and the best front court in the East. Oh yeah, also one of the best points in the East. With Monster Mash, Baron, a front court of Campbell, Brown and Magloire, and quality bench players in Nailon, Augmon and Lynch, plus two good 2 guards who can both challenge for the starting job in Alexander and Wesley, it's hard to doubt that the Hornets will be in the Playoffs next season.

<b>New York Knicks</b>
I hate to say it, but this team could contend for a playoff spot. But there are a lot of question marks. Will Dice stay healthy? And if he does will he be anywhere near All Star form again? Will Houston actually play like somewhat close to what he's worth? Can Cheany actually win as a coach? They still have problems, but this could be the new Big 3 in the East, and they actually have some inside presence.

<b>Orlando Magic</b>
It was T-Mac's show last year, and even if Grant Hill comes back 100% healthy, it probably will still be T-Mac's show. Magic management has supplied McGrady with a mediocre supporting cast, mostly because they are looking to sign Tim Duncan or another big name free agent in 2003. But even without Duncan, a healthy Magic team could make some noise in the Playoffs. Grant Hill was the best point forward in the game before his injury, and if he comes back somewhere near that, it will help the Magic a lot. They also have 2001's RoY Mike Miller, who can be a force off the bench behind Hill and McGrady, and Darrel Armstrong and 6th man of the year candidate Troy Hudson taking care of the point. The front court has been the nagging problem the past few years, but if Grant and Garrity can keep it together during the regular season, the Magic will definately benefit from Ewing's playoff experience in the post-season.

<b>Philadelphia 76ers</b>
If AI can't play, this team's in trouble. But even if he can, they're still in trouble. The team, like most other eastern conference teams, battled injury last season, significantly to Snow, McKie, and Iverson. But this year they traded away Speedy Claxton, a point with loads of potential and he showed it too. So their starting lineup now is Snow/Iverson/Harpring/Coleman/Mutumbo. Deke is aging and his stats are getting worse, DC is decent, but he's not what you'd call a typical second option, and he is on this team. Harpring doesn't do much for this team, and I'd rather have Aaron McKie in his place, and he didn't perform up to expectationa last year, after winning 6th man the season before. Still, this is the East, anything can happen, and the Sixers will contend for a playoff spot IMO.

<b>Toronto Raptors</b>
The Raps are a lock for the playoffs IMO. They were 8 games above .500 before Vince got injured, and Vince has publically stated that he'll have changed for next season and there will be hell to pay for all the doubters. Now I'm not saying that will happen for sure, that would be idiotic. But with everyone healthy, don't you think they would at least make the playoffs with everyone healthy? You also can't forget that they have great leadership in Antonio Davis, a decent second option, even though he's inconsistant, in Morris Peterson, some great energy off the bench in Jerome Williams, and a very athletic young player in Keon Clark, if he's re-signed.

<b>Washington Wizards</b>
The Wizards are actually one of the more talented teams in the Atlantic Division. If MJ returns, even as a backup, I think they have a realistic shot at the Playoffs. With four rookies on the team that include Indiana's Jared Jeffries and NCAA champion Maryland's Juan Dixon, and last year's #1 pick, Kwame Brown, they have tons of young players with potential that is sky-high. You also can't forget Rip Hamilton, who played well last year, although he had MJ to play with, and a front court of Jahidi White, Popeye Jones and Brendan Haywood. With the assistance of MJ's leadership, this team could make the Playoffs in the wild, wild <i>East</i>

- Alborz Motashami (Budweiser_Boy)
 

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Good post. Bssically, in the east it is hard to elimate teams as there are few dominant teasm, most are in the middle. Except for the Cavs who will be just horrible. I also think that the Bulls are 1 year away from playoffs.

Disagreements
The 76ers-old teams tend to fade fast and with Mutombo and DC, that is an old front court.
Atlanta- Shareef not that good. THis is a 40 win team, unless by some miracle everyone stays healthy and Kukoc can contribute. He is falling fast.
Wizards- I don't love the talent here. Overachievers who are a year older where it hurts them the most- MJ. THe year doens't help Kwame enough. MJ hurt the team in the long run by comign back. If he wasn;t in last year, they have a better pick in the draft/ Also, trading Alexander, a solid player cause MJ needs to be backup was a bad move.
 
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