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Who Are The Top 5 Teams In The NBA Eastern Conference?

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The Top 5 Teams in the Eastern Conference

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Eastern Conference was probably the most competitive it's been in quite some time last season, with no single team truly dominating the conference for any extended period of time. As the playoffs came around, there were a variety of good series to choose from, as we saw multiple Game 7s and many buzzer-beaters along the way. We can only hope the upcoming season will bring forth the same sort of excitement.

With all the trades and acquisitions made this offseason, it's hard to say who will take the top spot in the East. Now, most would say that has a simple answer in the Miami Heat, who are the reigning NBA champions and have made it to the Finals in three consecutive seasons. However, they were tested in the last year's playoffs with the Indiana Pacers taking them to a Game 7 and the brink of elimination. The Pacers did eventually go on to lose that game, but they showed true heart and passion in the series against the champs.

A few teams to look out for next season are the Brooklyn Nets and the Chicago Bulls. The series between these two powerhouses was an intense one, with one game needing triple overtime to decide the victor.

The biggest failure of last season with the most potential was the New York Knicks, who once again failed to make it out of the second round of the playoffs. However, they showed how good they can be by capturing the no. 2 spot in the East, and might be able to find themselves there again this season with their group of All-Stars.

In the coming NBA season, there are a multitude of teams who could rise up and knock off the defending champs. It's only a matter of time before we find out who has come to play when the 2013-14 season begins in October.

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5. Brooklyn Nets

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets' position on this list may come as a surprise to some as they have recently acquired so many star players to help them distinguish themselves among the elite in the East, but we must not forget the age of the individuals they acquired. Their three biggest signings this offseason (Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry) are all over the age of 35. Not to mention the fact that they have a first-time coach who just retired from the game last season in Jason Kidd. Having said that, they do have a lot of potential in their All-Stars Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Robin Lopez, but I don't think those guys are the key to their success. I mean, they failed to beat the lackluster Chicago Bulls, who didn't even have their best player in Derrick Rose. Although they will win around 45 games next season, give or take a few, they will remain stagnant at the no. 5 spot throughout.

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4. Chicago Bulls

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bulls have been in dire need of their star point guard, and they will have his long-awaited return next season. With Derrick Rose returning to the court in the 2013-14 NBA season, the Bulls are going to be a force to be reckoned with. And as Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah have come into their own as stars in this league, Rose will hopefully be able to bring his MVP-like ability back to his game as well. The only reason I have the Bulls so low on this list is because of my skepticism surrounding Rose's return. A torn ACL is nothing to mess around with, and although he has had a substantial amount of time to recover, there are still a lot of question marks as to whether he can still do the same things he used to. Rose was a star solely because of his ability to cut and drive on opponents with absolutely no hesitation. My only concern is if he will now be hesitant to play the same fearless basketball that we are so used to seeing, or if he will play a much more reserved role. The fate of Chicago rests in the hands of their former MVP.

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3. New York Knicks

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

With the exception of the Miami Heat, the New York Knicks have the best core group of players on this entire list. However, these core players still have some ways to go in learning how to play with one another. Carmelo Anthony is arguable the best scorer in the game, but his lack of defensive awareness and his poor shot selection sometimes hurt him. J.R. Smith, last year's Sixth Man of the Year, provides an incredible spark off the bench and can be lights-out from beyond the arch. However, he is also extremely streaky and needs to become more consistent. Amar'e Stoudemire can be one of the best power forwards in the game when healthy, but as he sat out for a large portion of last season due to injury, his presence next season is questionable. With so many questions yet to be answered, it's hard to say how well the Knicks will play in the coming season and if they can finally start clicking all at once.

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2. Indiana Pacers

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This team of young stars showed a lot of intrigue last season and even made the Miami Heat break a sweat when they took them to a Game 7 in last season's Eastern Conference Finals. With rising stars like Paul George and Roy Hibbert, the Indiana Pacers could give the Heat a run for their money again. This is a team of young stars who are well on their way to becoming elite players in the NBA. With only three players over the age of 30, this team is going to be good for many years to come. And with the return of their All-Star small forward Danny Granger, watch out. I might even go as far as to say that they have the best front court in the league in Hibbert and David West, as they dominated the Heat down low in their series last season. But with the Heat's recent acquisition of Greg Oden, will the Pacers still be able to do the same next season?

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1. Miami Heat

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Winning two consecutive NBA championships and reaching the Finals for three consecutive seasons, the Miami Heat will remain at no. 1 until someone can stop them. This Miami team is already a dynasty, and the scary part is that they have at least two more years of the "Big Three" of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. This team of stars can only beat themselves as they have all the pieces to three-peat next season. As they have recently acquired Greg Oden to deal with their rebounding issues, there is no doubt who will be representing the East in the Finals once again next season.