The Unfortunate truth for Eastern Conference teams
Trust me, July 1st 2018 has been circled on the calendar of every NBA team for at least four years now, but it has been especially been highlighted, reprinted, framed, and enshrined for every Eastern Conference squad. This day, of course, marks the official beginning of free agency in the NBA, and one LeBron James is expected to hit the open market. Long have the likes of the Raptors and Celtics and Pacers waited for this occasion, as LeBron leaving Cleveland would certainly create an level playing field for the Eastern crown. Not so fast. While LeBron and his various teammates were busy blasting through to the Finals every year, other Eastern teams took it upon themselves to match that level of stardom, whether through one player or many, and those teams are ready for next year. The Raptors arguably have the best backcourt (in the East), The Process has finalized in Philadelphia, heck even the Pacers came out on the right end of the Paul George trade. But which team stands above them all, ready to assume the role now vacated by the Cavaliers? The Boston Celtics, who I am officially dubbing the Warriors of the East.
Just think about how scary Boston will be next year. They managed to go all the way to Game 7 of the Conference Finals without their two best players. We all saw how great Kyrie was in the regular season, and those five minutes of Gordon Hayward on opening night have me convinced he’s the next MVP. Yes, many have pointed out that their young budding stars like Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum will have to take a backseat next year, but that bodes well for the Celtics. One reason I now call them the Warriors of the East is due to the extreme depth they will have next year. Three of their five main bench players could be (and were) legitimate starters, leading to the formation of what I may think of as the best bench unit in recent history. Oh and it won’t hurt that they will boast three All-Stars in their lineup with the best young coach in the NBA roaming the pine.
In summary what I’m trying to say here is that those poor Eastern Conference teams (minus the Celtics of course) who have been cowering in the shadow of The King for so long will have to wait another year. Yes, Philly will pick up some really good player this offseason (one way or another), the Pacers are definitely on the rise, the Raptors totally figured out their Playoff woes (maybe?), and you can never count out good ‘ol Erik Spoelstra and Miami, but the Celtics are in a good position to be the new rulers of the Eastern Conference. It’s not all bad news though; I hear some point guard of theirs is forgoing a possible extension for free agent waters next year…