Last week we took a look at the NBA contenders from the Western Conference, this week we jump across the nation and look at the East Conference contenders. With players like Giannis Antetokoumpo, and Jayson Tatum putting up MVP numbers this has been a difficult one to decide. Here are the top 4 teams in the East that will have a shot at bringing home the O’Brien trophy.
4. New York Knicks – The New York Knicks are currently sitting at a 40-30 record putting them in 6th place in
the East. The Nets sit above them in 5th place followed by the Cavaliers, but the Nets are going through some rebuilding so it’s not anticipated that they will do any damage if they make it to the playoffs. The Knicks on the other hand, have found the stars of their team, and have looked the best we have seen in a while. The Knicks haven’t won the NBA finals in 50 years, so it is likely that their team this year could be an underdog pick this year to make noise on the road to the O’Brien trophy.
Both Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle have been the stars of this team and have the potential to take this team into the playoffs with some elite talent. Jalen Brunson has been their quick guard, able to make plays in the paint, as well as from the perimeter. Julius Randle has been an offensive weapon as well. These two are a very dangerous duo and it will be interesting to see how they do in the playoffs.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers – The Cleveland Cavaliers are a solid squad this season. Led by Donovan Mitchell, this
team will be another one of the underdogs heading into playoffs. They do rank 25th in offense with 112.1 points per game, however that is because they are 2nd in offense, holding teams to just 106 points per game. Their defense is their weapon here, as most of the teams we look at have a strong focus on offensive weapons. Coach Bickerstaff has brought this team back up after the Lebron Era so this team is what we would consider the rebuilding team.
One of the things to note about this team as well is there shooting and shot selection. The Cavaliers don’t just have one guy that stands alone in shooting percentage which makes them Lethal on the offensive side. Evan Mobley Leads the team with 55%, however most of the team lies between 55-40%. This means the Cavaliers do what is necessary to score, and when they do shoot, it’s high percentage shots. This plus their defense makes them an exciting team to watch.
2. Boston Celtics – The Boston Celtics are one of four of the East contenders for many reasons, but the most notable is that they have remained the 1 or 2 top teams for the east throughout this entire season. They are currently sitting in 2nd place behind the Milwaukee Bucks. They sit 4th in offense and 8th in defense making them top in the pack in both categories. They have a +500 chance right now of getting the championship and honestly with the way they have been playing it’s hard to disagree. This is a well built team, with players like Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown, not to mention they have Al Horford as well. The structure of this team makes them have one of the best shots of winning and getting the Lombardi trophy.
Jayson Tatum is definitely the star of this team as it stands. He’s putting up 30 points per game at an effective rate as well. He’s averaging 53% on eFG%, and he’s getting 9 rebounds a game plus 5 assists as well. His ability to move the ball and get to the rim is a sight to see and will contribute a lot once playoffs come. Jaylen Brown follows shortly behind Tatum averaging 26 points per game. Nobody is going to want to face these guys when in playoffs especially considering the MVP caliber Tatum is playing at.1. Milwaukee Bucks – It’s no shock that the Bucks are number 1 on this list. Giannis Antetokoumpo is an elite player who knows how to get points on the board, whether it be scoring himself or getting his teammates open. He’s averaging 31.5 points per game, 11.9 rebounds, and 5.5 assists. At this rate he’s on track to win the MVP. We also talked about how far experience can take a team to the playoffs, and considering that the Bucks have won championships with Giannis this team it is only right that they be number 1 on this list. Much like the Boston Celtics, the Bucks have the 4th ranked offense, and the 11th defense once again making them the top 50% for both sides of the ball. They also have a +650 chance of winning the finals. They are 8-2 in the last 10 games giving them great momentum heading into the playoffs. The Bucks will have a tough road to the O’Brien trophy but their shot is the greatest.
Credit – AP Photo