The Cleveland Cavaliers have firmly planted themselves at the top of the Eastern Conference by agreeing in principle to a trade that will send Kevin Love to play alongside LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Ohio. The trade will send Love to the Cavaliers and Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and two first-round picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Cavaliers were already thrust to the top of the conference with the acquisition of LeBron this summer, but having Love in tow now makes them the undeniable favorites.
This trade really changes the layout of the Eastern Conference. Although the Miami Heat weren’t considered title favorites, they had the personnel to at least compete in the playoffs, even against a LeBron-led Cavaliers team. With Love in the starting lineup, the Cavaliers now have multiple players who can create devastating offense on their own, which will make defensive sets for any opposing team a nightmare — the Heat included.
Looking at the Eastern Conference now, it isn’t unimaginable for the Heat to fall as far as fifth or sixth in the standings. Other teams in the conference have also retooled to become legitimate threats, such as the Chicago Bulls with their acquisition of Pau Gasol or the Washington Wizards with their aggressive re-signings of key players from last season’s playoff run.
The Heat will have their work cut out for them this season. Every game now matters if they want to have a decent seed going into the playoffs. Let’s hope for the Heat’s sake they don’t run into the Cavaliers in the first round.