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Discussion Starter #1
The thing is, people, there are only 8 spots in the playoffs per conference. There are 15 teams in the East--8 of them will make the playoffs, which means 7 of them won't.

Now there is no reason to believe that the following teams will NOT make the playoffs again:

1 Nets (everybody comes back)
2 Pistons (everybody is back, Billups is added)
3 Celtics (Rodney Rogers is not the reason this team was good)
4 Hornets (either Baron Davis stays or is traded in a three-way for Andre Miller)

Every other team has question marks:

Magic--Grant Hill won't be close to 100%, the team could regress
76ers--David Stern will suspend Iverson at least 20 games
Raptors--adding Lindsay Hunter is not progress, people
Pacers--terrible coach
Bucks--should bounce back, but you never know
Heat--should bounce back, too, but again, you never know
Knicks--McDyess will never be the same player, will he?
Wiz--no reason to believe that MJ will be 100%
Hawks--no reason to believe Ratliff will ever stay healthy
Bulls--won't improve by 15 wins, people
Cavs--will only get worse

The thing is, there are people around here who are under the impression that EVERY SINGLE ONE of these teams--with the exception of the Cavs--will "contend for a playoff spot"! PEOPLE! Fourteen teams are not going to "contend for a playoff spot"! It won't happen!

Just to prove my point, take a look at what I've come up with here. The Eastern Conference has had 15 teams for seven years now, so I have gone back and looked at the final standings for each one of these seasons. For the lockout-shortened '98-'99 season, I projected what the team's win total would've been over an 82-game season (based on their winning percentage). What you see here is the AVERAGE win-loss record for the 9th through 15th place teams during this period.

Average 9th place team's record: 41-41
Average 10th place team's record: 37-45
Average 11th place team's record: 34-48
Average 12th place team's record: 31-51
Average 13th place team's record: 27-55
Average 14th place team's record: 24-58
Average 15th place team's record: 16-66

SO! As you can see, teams that finish 13th in the East are NOT contenders--if you go 27-55, YOU ARE NOT A CONTENDER. Teams that finish 12th in the East are NOT contenders--if you go 31-51, YOU ARE NOT A CONTENDER. Teams that finish 11th in the East are NOT contenders--if you go 34-48, YOU ARE NOT A CONTENDER. I suppose one could argue that a 37-45 team is a contender--in many instances, the tenth place team came pretty close to making the playoffs (41-41 in '97-'98, 39-43 in '96-'97, 39-43 again in '95-'96--these years were obviously the hey day period for the Eastern Conference).

The point here is that only ten teams in the East can expect to "contend for a playoff spot" next year or any year. Below is one man's guess at what the Eastern Conference standings might look like next season--and I have included the average win-loss total next to those teams who fail to make the playoffs (just to drive home my point):

1 Nets
2 Hornets
3 Pistons
4 Celtics
5 Bucks
6 Magic
7 76ers
8 Heat
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9 Raptors 41-41
10 Pacers 37-45
11 Hawks 34-48
12 Bulls 31-51
13 Knicks 27-55
14 Wizards 24-58
15 Cavs 16-66

NOW! Feel free to mix and match who finishes where--but the bottom line here is that A 27-55 TEAM IS NOT A PLAYOFF CONTENDER! If you finish 13th in the East, YOU ARE GOING TO FINISH ABOUT 27-55! The most wins that the 13th best team in the East ever won was in '97-'98, when the #13 team somehow managed to go 36-46. The next-best win-loss total during this 7-year period for a #13 team? 30-52.

Go ahead, people--make your predictions, tell us how you think the East will shape up next season. Rank the teams 1-15. But make sure you put the above average win-loss totals next to those teams.

Wiz fans! YOUR TEAM WILL NOT CONTEND FOR A PLAYOFF SPOT NEXT SEASON!

Knicks fans! YOUR TEAM WILL NOT CONTEND FOR A PLAYOFF SPOT NEXT SEASON!

Bulls fans! YOUR TEAM WILL NOT CONTEND FOR A PLAYOFF SPOT NEXT SEASON!

Hawks fans! YOUR TEAM WILL NOT CONTEND FOR A PLAYOFF SPOT NEXT SEASON!

And, fans of the Wiz, Knicks, Bulls, and Hawks--if you DO think your team will "contend" next season, well, you're going to have to tell us which of the ten teams that figure to be better than you (i.e., the ten teams that I have ranked ahead of you in my projected Eastern Conference standings) will be WORSE than you! If you cannot name AT LEAST FIVE TEAMS who will be WORSE than you next season, YOUR TEAM WILL NOT BE CONTEND FOR A PLAYOFF SPOT! Period!

So there!
 

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You said it all!

I will wait until most of the free agents are signed before I come back here and make my "speculations" about the finish of the '02/'03 finish of the top 10 teams in the east.
 

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I don't think you can say that any team won't contend. Who would have thought that the Bucks wouldn't make the playoffs? Who would have thought the Nets would be in the Finals?

The point is that anything can happen, and yelling a quote to each basement team does nothing because one of those teams could easily be in the position that the Nets, Pistons or Celtics were last year. Each team at the top could easily pull a "Milwaukee" and not make the playoffs.

Nice post though.....
 

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I disagree with the point you made claiming that the Cavaliers will "only get worse". DeJuan Wagner is the kind of player they needed to boost their team.

Secondly, the addition of Lindsay Hunter may not seem like progress to you, but not only is he an excellent defender and passer, but Vince Carter will be returning better than ever. I pick the Raptors to finish in the top five in the east.

I definitly think the Bucs will bounce back, but i'm still trying to figure out how out of all the teams that would end up picking up a three-shooting power forward, the team that needs one the least got one.
 

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It only takes one or two trades to totally change the face of the conference. Granted that your opinion is based on current rosters, but people reserve the right to be optimistic about an upcoming season. Sometimes, something special happens.

Who picked the Nets to play off in the finals last season?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
STING: If the Cavs trade Andre Miller, they'll be the worst team in the East, make no mistake about THAT. Vince Carter is a very good player but I don't care much for his coach or his supporting cast. I expect the Bucks to dump Anthony Mason on somebody (how about to the Knicks for either Shandon Anderson or Howard Eisley?), that's addition-by-subtraction.

KC AND OTHERS: Yes, I understand that the East experienced an unprecedented changing-of-the-guard last season--the top three teams this past season were all lottery teams the year before! But I really do think that the changing-of-the-guard was legitimate, and probably should have been expected, when you think about it, since the Knicks lost Jeff Van Gundy, the Heat destroyed THEMSELVES by giving so much money to three players (only ONE of whom--Mourning--has EVER been GREAT) and not re-signing or replacing their veteran supporting cast, the Bucks added a chemistry-killer in Mason, the Pacers and Raptors stuck with their godawful head coaches, and the 76ers traded away their excellent supporting cast (Hill, Lynch, etc.) for NO APPARENT REASON.

In other words, maybe we should've seen this changing-of-the-guard coming--there was an unprecedented power vacuum in the East, SOMEBODY had to fill it, right?

In any event, I see no reason to believe that this changing-of-the-guard was a fluke, nor do I see any reason to believe that such a thing will happen again next season. You can easily explain why teams like Miami, Milwaukee, and New York (and, to a lesser extent, Philly and Toronto) collapsed last season. But these collapses are permanent, more or less--Milwaukee should bounce back but not ALL THE WAY back (they missed their shot at the Finals), Miami should bounce back but are still only about a .500ish team, the Knicks' offseason moves are only setting that franchise back a couple more years, Iverson's supporting cast is getting old, and so is Vince Carter's.
 

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robyg, I understand what you are saying. I was just more or less responding to your comment, "Bulls Fans, Your team isn't going to contend". I think that is a close-minded statement. I see a few teams that are bound to crash this coming season. More surprises could come. I also don't think the changing of the guard was necessarily evident last year either. The Bucks were in 1st place with their "cancer" for much of the year. No one expected much from the Nets. Boston was expected to improve, but not to the degree that they did. The Pistons also came out of nowhere.

In addition, I don't think it is a certainty that the 76ers, Heat, and Bucks will be back in the playoffs. In that sense, the East will be more wide open next year.
 

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Anthony Mason is still bitter towards the NY Knicks organization dating back to the LJ/Mason trade with Charlotte, so don't look to dump him in NY.
 

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assuming mj is healthy, why cant the wiz contend for a playoff spot???? they were last year until he went out and that was with an extended stretch without their second best player
 

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Because the
pistons
nets
celtics
bucks
pacers
hornets
raptors
magic and
heat
9 teams that are all better than the wiz you know if they could draft and not take a 2nd rounder (dixon) midway through the 1st round the wiz could be better. If they make the playoffs they will need solid contributions from guys like kwame brown who I still don't think is ready for the pro game but hey good luck.
 

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The Raptors will NOT miss the playoffs, I can guarantee that.

Vince Carter was INJURED last season. He's coming back pumped up. Because you don't "care for the coaching staff or his teammates" isn't good enough reason to leave them out of the playoffs. The Raps have a solid leader in Antonio Davis, lots of veteran experience in Hakeem Olajuwon, and some great young players in Mo Peterson and Keon Clark. Plus, the addition of Chris Jeffries is really going to help a team in need of defence.
 

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ima go out on a limb and say the bulls will get no worse than the 6th seed in the playoffs
 

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ok so if mj is healthy all year and he doesnt lose any players for significant stretched of time, you people dont think the wiz will make the playoffs??? that is just absurd, helahty mj and healthy team= playoffs i mean hes mj for cryin out loud
 

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and am i the only one who thinks detroit was a oen year wonder??? not to say they will make the playoffs, but cmon everybody on that team played out of their minds god for them last year, stack passed the ball, ben wallace was defensive player of the year and they had arguably the ebst bench uin the league, chauncey buillups is help in the backcourt, but cmon last year wasnt a fluke, bu they will defintiely drop off this year.
 

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No way the pistons drop this year. They upgraded arguabley their worst position last year (pg with billups). Zeliko Rebraca is developing into a solid center. They got last yrs second round pick Memhet Okur who is a 7 ft guy who can shoot from anywhere on the court his sl games were solid although I am not going to put too much stock into those because they were sl games. I have read that Rodney White was considered by some to be the most talented player in last years draft. He struggled his rookie year but he did not get much pt because they were winning he hopefully will have improved. All of that combined this team should be better than last year.
 

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yeah i see what you are saying, but you have to admit the team played phenomenal last year, it all came together, teams will be mroe prepared for the pistons this year. billups should be a nice addition and i completely forgot rebraca, bvut i still think the top two teams in the east will not be either the nets or the pistons this year.
 

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Originally posted by Hawkeye Pierce
assuming mj is healthy, why cant the wiz contend for a playoff spot???? they were last year until he went out and that was with an extended stretch without their second best player
Also, they now have Jared Jeffries, Rod Grizzard, Juan Carlos Navarro, and Juan Dixon. At least one of those four guys will contribute.

I am betting that Jeffries and Dixon both make decent contributions off of the bench.

Unfortunately, Jordan probably will not be the player that he was last season. He has said that he will probably not start at the three, but play the backup shooting guard. Which is odd, because he drafted three 2-guards(Navarro and Dixon are both SG's in a PG body).
 
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