NBA preview: Eastern Conference Power Rankings

  • Updated: October 28, 2013 - 10:36 PM
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Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose is back from a knee injury

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Jerry Zgoda’s Eastern Conference Power Rankings

 

1. Miami

Contenders are closing in fast and the Heat’s bid for a three-peat just might depend on no-risk, big-reward gambles Greg Oden and Michael Beasley to provide fresh legs as much as it does on a guy named LeBron.

 

2. Chicago

Yes, believe it:  Derrick Rose (right) is back and barring a setback, better than ever after a full season lost to ACL knee surgery. Tom Thibodeau’s teams always defend, but as goes Rose, so go the Bulls.

 

3. Brooklyn

Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov is entrusting his $190 million investment to rookie coach Jason Kidd with a team that’s not quite as old as you think — at least Deron Williams and Brook Lopez are both under 30 — and will be better in the playoffs than the regular season.

 

4. Indiana

The Pacers added gritty Luis Scola after getting within a Game 7 of the NBA Finals last spring and are getting Danny Granger back in three weeks. But can Roy Hibbert repeat his springtime performance?

 

5. Washington

Trading injured Emeka Okafor for dependable Marcin Gortat solves a problem up front and helps a blossoming John Wall-Bradley Beal backcourt get the Wizards back in playoffs for first time since 2008.

 

6. New York

The Carmelo Anthony free-agent watch already has begun for 2014, before the Knicks even have time to discover if experiments with Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace work out.

 

7. Detroit

The Pistons possess a potentially dynamic frontcourt after adding free-agent Josh Smith to Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, but can they shoot it well enough to give those guys room to work?

8. Cleveland

Yes, Kyrie Irving is THAT good and that just might be enough to make the playoffs in the uneven East. But the Cavs could use some help from oft-injured gamble Andrew Bynum.

 

9. Atlanta

Josh Smith left for Detroit’s big offer, so the Hawks signed cost-efficient Paul Millsap and still have cap flexibility to make trade-deadline moves that could get them and Al Horford back into the playoffs.

 

10. Toronto

With a team built around Rudy Gay and Kyle Lowry, new GM Masai Ujiri could bust into overhaul mode if the Raptors are headed for the lottery again, which is a pretty decent bet.

 

11. Milwaukee

The Bucks swapped one Brandon (Jennings) for another (Knight) and changed lines on the fly, bringing in O.J. Mayo and bringing back Luke Ridnour. But they’re where they always seem to be, middling.

 

12. Orlando

Who would have guessed it then, but the Magic now is the big winner in last year’s four-team Dwight Howard trade. It’s collected some nice pieces — see Victor Oladipo — but now needs the big one in next draft lotto.

 

13. Charlotte

The Bobcats draft in the lottery every year and never make the playoffs. Their biggest move was signing free-agent Big Al Jefferson, the low-post scorer they need but who still won’t be enough.

 

14. Boston

Gigantic job for college wunderkind Brad Stevens, but the Celtics will move up a few notches here if they don’t trade Rajon Rondo midseason. Here’s saying they will.

 

15. Philadelphia

There’s fierce competition down in the lotto dunk tank for Kansas stud Andrew Wiggins … and the completely dismantled 76ers will win the race while contesting their own NBA record for fewest victories in a season (nine).

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Boston - A. Ranaudo 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - C. Morton
Toronto - D. Hutchison 6:05 PM
Baltimore - U. Jimenez
Washington - T. Roark 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Miami - N. Eovaldi 6:10 PM
NY Mets - B. Colon
NY Yankees - M. Pineda 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi
Cincinnati - J. Cueto 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Arrieta
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt 7:10 PM
Kansas City - L. Hendriks
Cleveland - C. Kluber 7:10 PM
Houston - N. Tropeano
Detroit - R. Porcello 7:10 PM
Minnesota - R. Nolasco
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 7:15 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
Los Angeles - D. Haren 7:40 PM
Colorado - T. Matzek
San Francisco - J. Peavy 8:40 PM
Arizona - J. Collmenter
Seattle - R. Elias 9:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Texas - N. Tepesch 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Kazmir
Philadelphia - A. Burnett 9:10 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
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