Eastern Conference Power Rankings: Drama across multiple teams

Eastern Conference power rankings are posted every Saturday on Beantown Baskets. 

 

Cleveland Cavaliers (31-14)
The Cavaliers are just 4-6 in their last ten and there’s a good amount of drama surrounding the team right now, but they’re still in first place and this is all probably just a blip on the radar. It seems like every year there’s some sort of drama around whatever team LeBron James is playing for and then come June that same team is still playing in the NBA Finals.

Toronto Raptors (29-18)
There was a big opening for Boston to pass the Raptors as Toronto lost five games in a row before snapping their skid with a blowout victory over Milwaukee on Friday night, but the Raptors hold strong at number two because Boston ran up a three game losing streak at the same time. Toronto is 3-0 this year against their Atlantic Division rivals but they’re still locked up in a tight race for second in the East.

Boston Celtics (28-18)
The three game losing streak wasn’t pretty at all for the Celtics, who dropped home games to the New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers – who are both 21-27 – before getting slapped by the Wizards on the road. Things have gotten better fast though as they rallied for a huge win against the Houston Rockets before downing the Magic by 30 points on Friday night.

Washington Wizards (26-20)
Washington has won ten of their last 12 – including wins over the Celtics and Hawks this past week – and they’ve been one of the hotter teams in the entire NBA for a while now. The Wizards got off to a horrible 2-8 start and they’ve gone 24-12 ever since. John Wall is having the best year of his career right now and he’s the only player in the entire NBA averaging over 20 points, ten assists and two steals per game.

Atlanta Hawks (27-20)
It might be hard for the Hawks to hold onto home court in the first round even though they’re still playing pretty well. They’ve won 12 of their last 15, but they also don’t have many wins that jump off the page outside of a 114-112 win over the Spurs back in early January while they’re losses have come against seemingly better teams like the Celtics, Clippers and red hot Wizards.

Indiana Pacers (24-22)
A big offseason saw the Pacers bring in Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young and Al Jefferson but it came with a slow start. Indiana has recovered and they’ve now established themselves as a playoff team in the Eastern Conference but they also don’t seem to be on a path towards a long playoff run. They might be able to steal a series from one of the team’s ahead of them.

Detroit Pistons (21-25)
It appears that things are real ugly in the Eastern Conference after the Pacers. Detroit isn’t in position for a playoff spot right now but the Bulls are a mess while the Bucks and Hornets have both hit rough patches so a window is open for the Pistons to climb in the standings. They lost to the Kings during their most recent game but they did go into that game riding a three game win streak, including victories over the Wizards and Hawks.

Charlotte Hornets (23-24)
Losses to the Wizards and Warriors on Tuesday and Wednesday night isn’t the worst thing in the world for Charlotte but they added to the losing streak by falling to the New York Knicks. Kemba Walker is doing everything he can to carry this team, but he needs help if the team wants to get past the first round.

Chicago Bulls (23-25)
Rajon Rondo is handing out leadership advice to his teammates in Chicago and that really can’t be a good sign. The Bulls blew a ten point lead in the final three minutes against the Hawks which led to a whole mess of drama and then they looked terrible against the Miami Heat on Friday night with their own fans booing throughout the game.

Milwaukee Bucks (21-25)
Basketball fans would probably be happy with Giannis Antetokounmpo getting to showdown with LeBron James in the first round of the playoffs this year – something that would be far more interesting then some of the recent first round matches James has gotten involved in – but that might be asking for a lot at this point. The Bucks have lost seven of eight and they’re falling fast.

Philadelphia 76ers (17-28)
Joel Embiid is so much fun to watch and it’s really cool to see “the process” slowly starting to pay off. The 76ers are a respectable 9-4 since the calendar flipped to 2017 and they might even flirt with a playoff spot if this keeps up. Their next game is against the imploding Bulls and it’s followed up with matches against the 18-28 Kings and 16-20 Mavericks, meaning more wins could be coming.

New York Knicks (21-27)
All this drama and the New York Knicks have still found a way to win two of their last three games, with both wins coming against conference opponents in playoff position in the Hornets and Pacers. The Carmelo Anthony situation will continue to hover over them, but they still have the talent to stay in the playoff race.

Miami Heat (17-30)
That’s now six wins in a row for the Heat as they’ve really started to distance themselves from the Brooklyn Nets, saving them from the embarrassment of having a last place team. They’ve been able to beat strong teams like the Warriors and Rockets during this steak while Dion Waiters has been their shining star, scoring 23.8 PPG over the last six games.

Orlando Magic (18-30)
Losing to any team by 30 points is bad, but when you lose to the Celtics by 30 points on a night where Avery Bradley and Al Horford are both inactive it’s really an issue. They have a lot of decent players but none of them really fit well together. It will be interesting to see if they put any of them on the market.

Brooklyn Nets (9-37)
The Nets have won only two games since Christmas and one of those victories came the day after Christmas. They’re bad…really bad.

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