Eastern conference preview continued
With a small portion of the teams in the Eastern Conference covered last week, there are still some left unaccounted for. Among those is the Miami Heat. They have improved the roster from a year ago and their play to this point is a clear indication of it. The Heat are currently in a four way tie for first place in the east with a 5-1 record at the moment. The acquisition of Kyle Lowry has been a great fit for the team. Although Goran Dragic was a serviceable point guard during his time in Miami, he is not on the same level as Lowry. Lowry is a superior playmaker, excelling at getting others involved, while Dragic is more of a scorer. Markieff Morris was another pickup for the team that fits the Pat Riley mold. A sound defender that can play off the ball and score when called upon. Acquiring a player that played a big role in the NBA finals a year ago surely helps, and the Heat got that. P.J Tucker is one of the better defenders that can guard multiple positions and can space the floor with his three point shooting. Players like Bam Adebayo are playing up to the level fans expect of him. This is a team that has championship aspirations and wants to prove that their finals appearance in the bubble was not a fluke.
On paper, it looked like the Washington Wizards would not be a very good team this year. They traded away Russell Westbrook to Los Angeles. The pieces they had left to pair with their star Bradley Beal did not seem like a contending roster. However, players such as Kyle Kuzma and Montrez Harrell are playing above and beyond what the people could have believed. The lack of pressure and low expectations has the Wizards at 5-1 and tied for first in the conference. Kentavious Caldwell Pope, another player from the Lakers deal, is enjoying a different scenery. At the moment they are playing at an unimaginable level that would usually put them in first place, had it not been for the improving east. Whether or not they can sustain this level of play remains to be seen but they will need to do so if they have any shot at the post season.
With a 3-3 start to the year, the Atlanta Hawks have not been much to talk about. They are underperforming with the expectations fans have of them. The Hawks were in the Eastern Conference Finals against the eventual champions in the Milwaukee Bucks. Many are quick to link the NBA rule changes on foul calls for why Trae Young’s numbers have seen a drop. The season is still a long way away from ending and perhaps this is just the adjustment period needed for him. The Hawks still have a roster of young players that can ball. John Collins and Cameron Reddish are exciting young players that complement Young’s game well. Aside from them, they still have shooters that can be depended upon. Will the Hawks return to their level of play from last season or was that a fluke season?
The Boston Celtics are another team many are hopeful of. Jayson Tatum is a superstar on the offensive end of the floor at a young age. He improves every season and many are predicting this year to be no different. Last season, they lost to the Brooklyn Nets in the first round to end their year. However, Jaylen Brown missed extended time due to injury and his season was cut short. Now he is back and playing like his old self. Marcus Smart is the anchor for the team defensively and is vital to any long term plans for the Celtics. They lost Kemba Walker in the offseason but gained Al Horford in return. This will make it his second stint with the team.The Celtics lost their head coach Brad Stevens, whom many considered one of the best coaches as he filled a vacancy of the General Manager position. They are 2-4 but all hope is not lost yet. Can they turn their season around before it is too late?
Many teams are rapidly improving and making the Eastern Conference very competitive. Fans of the game can rejoice knowing how much talent is on all of the rosters.