Friday , Mar , 20 , 2009 C.Y. Ellis

Eastern Playoff Prospects: Seeds 1 through 4

Eastern Playoff Prospects: Seeds 1 through 4Today I’m going to delve into the East. Particularly seeds one through four, detailing the current level of play, and providing an outlook on how far I believe these teams could advance come the post season.

As always, I respect anyone’s right to formulate their own opinion, even if I disagree. If you take issues with any of my statements, then be sure to state your thoughts in the comments box.

Cleveland Cavaliers

For the last couple of months, I’ve thought the Cavaliers were just one piece away from being a legit title contender. Lately, Lebron’s been as clutch as most Cavalier fans had hoped, and the team’s fine play has vaulted themselves into the number one position for best record in the NBA. Could you imagine this team with home court advantage through out the playoffs? For god sakes, they are 30-1 at home. If something is keeping Doc Rivers up late at night, it’s that last nugget of information.

However, the playoffs are a completely different entity from the regular season. Is Lebron’s supporting cast going to remain this consistent? Is Mo Williams ready to take the leap into the playoff spotlight?

Barring a physical and mental breakdown, I better give the Cavaliers more respect come the first round of the post season. After all, they do have that guy…I think his name is Lebron?

Boston Celtics

The Celtics as a unit deserve a lot of credit for keeping the ship floating in the right direction while enduring multiple injuries.(Did you expect the Marbury blame game?) Unfortunately, the injuries don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Leon Powe, who played admirably in the absence of Kevin Garnett, is slated to miss at least a couple weeks with a strained left knee. KG and Ray Allen are said to be out of the lineup for at least the next couple games against San Antonio and Memphis.

I am indeed worried about Boston regarding the playoff picture. Funny right? Worrying about a team with 51 wins…Well Boston does have to worry, Orlando is breathing down their necks.

Health concerns me. The core will be healthy at the right time, but key role players such as Leon Powe and Tony Allen either won’t make it back, or won’t have enough time to regain rhythm and timing.

Enough pieces around the big three? Besides from Eddie House, who’s going to knock down perimeter looks when Pierce and Allen are forced to give up the ball? Even with a guy like KG who can pick and pop, Rondo’s presence could hurt the team if he’s not ready to accept the challenge of being a willing shooter. We all know Rondo’s man will end up playing free safety. I only ask the Celtics to do one thing, Don’t rely on Stephon Marbury. We all know where that will get you. (one insult is enough)

Off topic: The league is investigating the ejection of Doc Rivers in regards to a altercation with referee Bill Kennedy.

Should Doc be complaining about anything to do with officiating? His team is as physical as it gets on defense, yet before you finish breathing on the big three, the whistle is quickly blown.

Orlando Magic

Maybe not to the level of Cleveland, but the Magic certainly have been rolling. They are right up on the bumper of the injury riddled Boston Celtics, and look poised to pass them at a high speed.

But with all of this success, how does it translate to the NBA’s second season?

It rests on Dwight Howard. Is Howard going to be allowed to seal players under the basket as easily? I don’t think so. Howard has to prove he can score consistently on the block without dunking the ball. Game plans are obviously directed towards stopping him, which means getting him the ball won’t be as easy, and he’ll get his fair share of free throws. Dwight better get his work in from the charity stripe, and the Magic collectively better keep on the defense, and continue to prosper from behind the three point line. It would also help to avoid Detroit in a seven game series.

Atlanta Hawks

After a stretch in which the Hawks looked less than inspiring, the birds seem to be back on track since they’ve won their last six in a row. Even though Atlanta pushed Boston to the limit last year, most seemed to be surprised with the plus .500 record this year. Lets play connect the dots for a moment. Atlanta didn’t lose a home game in the first round series against Boston last year, and this year stand 26-7 at home.

The Hawks are playing with much more confidence, and who’s to say they can’t pull off a couple road wins? Isn’t it unfair to not expect some clutch performances from Mike Bibby? I didn’t even mention Joe Johnson yet, who for some reason is still underrated.

Front court play from Atlanta is going to be crucial. Al Horford is going to have to step it up for the Hawks to have any decent forward movement. He needs better emphasis on protecting the paint, and will have to score down low when needed. If Marvin Williams can get healthy and provide his perimeter shooting, I don’t see how Atlanta would be a easy out for anyone in the East.

Who do you like to make some noise out of this group? Get at us down below in the comments box. Be sure to check back for analysis on seeds 5-8 in the Eastern Conference.