As the first quarter of the NBA season comes to a conclusion, many are left scratching their heads at the utter chaos of the Eastern Conference. After being in the shadow of the once dominant Western Conference for nearly a decade, the East was on the verge of powerhouse status. With the emergence of the Indiana Pacers, the “all-in” move by the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks finally shaking the ghost of Isiah Thomas, everyone had high hopes for what seemed to be a dangerous conference.
Well, let’s just say that the Eastern Conference has not lived up to all the hype. The Knicks are about ready to hit rock bottom, and 2014 free agency looks better and better to Carmelo Anthony. The Nets are playing so poorly that head coach Jason Kidd is resorting to bush league tactics and still can’t win. Even the Chicago Bulls are in disarray with the loss of Derrick Rose for another season along with all their championship aspirations.
The Eastern Conference is so incredibly bad that only two teams are above .500. So, is it safe to say that the Miami Heat will represent the East in the NBA Finals for a fourth straight season?
I think it is safe to say that it will be a two team race in the East as it is now, and we will more than likely see an Eastern Conference Championship rematch between the Heat and Pacers. Currently Indiana leads the East and the league with a record of 14-1. Miami has ripped off eight straight wins and are second in the East with a 12-3 record.
It is obvious that only one team stands in the way of a three-peat in South Beach, and compared to the rest of the teams in the East, the Pacers are a well coached team built with unselfish and talented players. They nearly took out the Heat last season in the ECF, and they seem poised to do it again.
If I were Miami I would be worried about Indiana, but that is the only worry I would have. No one in the East is anywhere close to the skill level or depth that the Heat and Pacers contain. However, I choose Miami as a Finals lock because of their depth and experience. Between LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers, the Heat trump the Pacers in experience. As for depth, Miami’s rotation continues to impress as someone new steps up every game.
The biggest concern for the champs when it comes to the Pacers is the mere size of Indiana. Roy Hibbert and David West make for a tough front court pair to deal with, and Miami really does not have anyone who can match up well against Hibbert or West. Also, don’t forget that the Pacers still have someone named Danny Granger, who is currently getting over a calf injury. Granger’s return will only add to an already dangerous starting five in Indiana.
There is one team standing between Miami and a three-peat, and that team is Indiana. The East may be a huge disappointment, but watching the Heat and Pacers battle for conference supremacy will be great entertainment and basketball.