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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New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Portland 6:00 PM
Cleveland
Sacramento 6:30 PM
Toronto
Boston 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Dallas 7:00 PM
Houston
Denver 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Brooklyn 7:00 PM
Atlanta
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
New York
Charlotte 7:30 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Utah
Washington 9:30 PM
Phoenix
Toronto 6:30 PM
New Jersey
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Washington
Chicago 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Temple 6:00 PM
UCF
Winthrop 6:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Colgate
Northeastern 6:00 PM
Drexel
Wake Forest 6:00 PM
Florida State
Rhode Island 6:00 PM
Fordham
Delaware 6:00 PM
James Madison
South Carolina 6:00 PM
LSU
New Hampshire 6:00 PM
Maine
Seton Hall 6:00 PM
Marquette
Binghamton 6:00 PM
UMBC
American Univ 6:00 PM
Navy
Elon 6:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Wright State 6:00 PM
Oakland
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Penn State
Duquesne 6:00 PM
Richmond
SMU 6:00 PM
South Florida
Hartford 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Albany 6:00 PM
Vermont
Hofstra 6:00 PM
William & Mary
UNC-Asheville 6:00 PM
Longwood
Radford 6:30 PM
Char Southern
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 6:30 PM
Notre Dame
Texas Tech 6:30 PM
Oklahoma
Oregon State 7:00 PM
Arizona State
Morehead State 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
Drake 7:00 PM
Bradley
Lehigh 7:00 PM
Bucknell
Rice 7:00 PM
Houston
Missouri State 7:00 PM
Illinois State
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska Omaha 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
Northern Iowa 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
Louisville 8:00 PM
Boston College
St Johns 8:00 PM
Creighton
East Carolina 8:00 PM
Memphis
Georgia Tech 8:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Miss State 8:00 PM
Ole Miss
Clemson 8:00 PM
NC State
Indiana 8:00 PM
Purdue
Kansas 8:00 PM
TCU
Oregon 9:00 PM
Arizona
Air Force 9:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 10:00 PM
Washington
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 6:00 PM
Binghamton
Akron 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
Memphis 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
East Carolina 6:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
Murray State 6:00 PM
Eastern Illinois
Kent State 6:00 PM
Central Michigan
UT Martin 6:00 PM
Tennessee St
Eastern Michigan 6:00 PM
Western Mich
Bucknell 6:00 PM
Lehigh
Indiana 6:00 PM
Michigan State
Colgate 6:00 PM
Lafayette
Fordham 6:00 PM
Davidson
Duquesne 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
George Mason 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Detroit 6:00 PM
Youngstown St
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Oklahoma St 7:00 PM
Kansas State
West Virginia 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Denver 7:00 PM
South Dakota
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
Central Arkansas
Austin Peay 7:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Kansas 7:00 PM
Iowa State
Bowling Green 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Penn State 7:00 PM
Minnesota
San Jose St 8:00 PM
Air Force
Boise State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Utah State 8:00 PM
Wyoming
San Diego State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Nevada 9:00 PM
UNLV
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