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Monday, February 23, 2009

How the East Looks

Posted by Tariq al Haydar

by Tariq al Haydar

OK, let me start this with a confession: I do not watch as much basketball as some would imagine. First off, I don't get as much TV coverage as I like over here in the 0119661. Yeah, that's Saudi Arabia. I guess I shouldn't have used area codes to identify my spot. That was dumb. Sorry. So anyway, yeah, we only get two games a week on ESPN, plus a game a day on NBA TV, which I just subscribed to the other day. So as much as I wanted to, I couldn't watch any of the Laker-Celtics or Laker-Cavs games. But I do read a lot about the NBA, and so, along with the relatively few games I've actually watched, what I've read and what I've seen over the past few months have marinated in my head to produce the following disjointed impression of the Eastern Conference:

1- Cleveland Cavs:

I was really hoping the Cavs would do something before the trade deadline. I wasn't totally sold on the proposed Shaq trade, because it's such a huge contract, plus the guy's 37. But what about a guy like Tyson Chandler? Wally World straight up for Tyson? Think that would have made Bron happy?

In any case, I still like Cleveland to win the East, especially since KG's injury gives them the inside track on the #1 seed. And I would love to see LeBron v Kobe in the Finals. Mo Williams has been what Boobie was supposed to be. Big Z is a very intelligent post player, albeit an intelligent post player with bad knees. And Delonte West is back!

2- Boston Celtics:

The C's were 3-9 away from home in last year's playoffs. They couldn't win a single away game against the lowly Hawks or the Cavs. So unless they manage to get home-court advantage, I don't see them getting past LeBron. I'm sure they'll pick up some free agent off of waivers and that will certainly help, but they're just too thin, too old and too inconsistent away from home. They're still formidable, of course. I'm just explaining why I like Cleveland to win the East and not Boston.

3- Orlando Magic:

People are saying that Orlando can't get past Boston or Cleveland in a seven-game series, but I think they have a puncher's chance. I love their starting five with Rafer in there. Hedo should have been an all-star by now. And Dwight Howard is a beast. The only problem I have with this team is Rashard Lewis. And it's not that I don't like him as a player, it's just that I like him as a 3, not a 4. Opposing big men will abuse him in the playoffs. If the Magic had a reliable power forward who would allow Rashard to switch to the small forward position, they'd be REALLY dangerous. As it stands, they should win a series and cause some problems for one of the big two but fall short in the end.

Now, if they somehow manage to get the 2 seed...

4- Atlanta Hawks:

I honestly don't know that much about the Hawks. I mean, Joe Johnson is there of course, and Josh Smith is one of my favorite players, but I get the feeling that they're bound to fade in the playoffs. But I'm ignorant, so... moving on...

5- Miami Heat:

I saw Miami play against Philly and Orlando. I have to say that although the results haven't been great since trading for Jermaine O'Neal (they lost to Orlando and before that to the Wolves), still I like how the Heat look. JO was really good against the Sixers, and if he can play like that more often, I think Miami can make some noise in the playoffs. I also like the combination of Dwyane Wade and Jamario Moon.

6- Detroit Pistons:

I can't understand this team. They've looked disinterested for a couple of years, but I thought the Iverson trade was going to take them back into contention. I was wrong.

7,8- Philadelphia 76ers & Milwaukee Bucks:

I honestly don't care. The 7 and 8 seeds will inevitably get blown out by Boston and Cleveland. Meh.


Ryne Nelson said...

Tariq, good look at the East as it stands right now. I know you didnd't take much stock in the Bucks (as well you shouldn't), but I was wondering about your thoughts on Charlie V. He's been beasting for about the past month. People either love him or hate him--future star or complete ball hog. Can Charlie V keep Milwaukee at the 8th spot without Redd, Ridnour and Bogut?

TADOne said...

Charlie V?! Um, I have him at neither. Ramon Sessions is the man on that depleted Bucks team. I still don't understand how he only starts when someone else is injured?

Anyhoo, good stuff Tariq. I'm not even sure if the Pisstons (no typo) will make the playoffs. However, since the rest of the East is garbage below them, they probably will by default.

Tariq al Hayder said...


I haven't seen that much of Charlie Villanueva, but he's been putting up some HUGE numbers lately. I imagine he's the type of player who can really benefit a contender, but I wouldn't classify him as a "future star". But i think he could do wonders for an Orlando or a Cleveland.

jameyburke said...

Good stuff-the Celts did struggle on the road in the post last year, but just remember the immortal words of Rudy T: "never underestimate the heart of a champion.." Cool site..Like the fact that you post pics of actual events and not just stock photos..

Hursty said...

CV is a great 2nd or 3rd option for any team. Thats about it imo.

Eboy said...

If it's anything other than the Celts and the Cavs in the ECF's, the fix obviously is in.