The NBA playoffs are around the corner. Next week we’ll take a look at the best of the West, winners of seven of the last 10 NBA titles.
This week, the beasts of the East.
Cavaliers: Cleveland has the best player in the game in 24-year old, 6-8 LeBron James, averaging over 28 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.3 assists. This time LeBron now has an excellent supporting cast, with newcomers Mo Williams (18 ppg) and recently acquired Joe Smith.
Cleveland allows 90 points per game and 42 percent shooting by opponents – both tops in the NBA. The Cavs are the team to beat with an incredible 36-1 start at home.
Magic: Orlando has been the best road team in the East. The Magic have a young superstar at center in Dwight Howard, averaging 21 points and 14 rebounds. This impressive frontcourt sports power and finesse with Howard, 6-10 Rashard Lewis and 6-10 Hedo Turkoglu.
Orlando allowing 43.3 percent shooting, third best in the NBA. The Magic are 7-6 against current playoff-bound teams without Jameer Nelson and 12-1 against the rest.
Celtics: Boston has a trio of vets. Paul Pierce (20 ppg) is having another great season at age 31 as is 33-year- old Ray Allen (18.5 ppg). They can still bring the defense, allowing 92.5 ppg, second in the NBA.
However, the real story is the health of Kevin Garnett. With Garnett on the shelf, Boston has been overvalued, on a 6-12 ATS run.
Hawks: Atlanta has stockpiled young, athletic players through the draft and has become the team no one wants to play. Top players are Joe Johnson (21.4 ppg), Josh Smith and Al Horford.
The Hawks are on a 9-4 SU, 10-3 ATS run, but are not a dominant defensive team. Atlanta started 29-9 at home, 14-23 away.
Heat: Who wouldn’t want an offensive punch of Dwyane Wade (29.8 ppg), Jermaine O’Neal (13.6 ppg) and Michael Beasley? Throw in a hard working role player up front like Udonis Haslem (8.2 rpg), and the Heat has plenty of punch on paper to be a force.
But, Miami simply hasn’t caught fire since acquiring O’Neal. The Heat have lost 12 of the last 15 games on the road.