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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Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 FINAL
Arizona 4
Boston 79 FINAL
Cleveland 110
LA Lakers 103 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Sacramento 124 FINAL
New York 86
Houston 96 FINAL
Atlanta 104
Utah 93 FINAL
Memphis 82
Washington 92 FINAL
Chicago 97
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
Denver 106
Nashville 1 FINAL
New Jersey 3
Calgary 3 FINAL(OT)
Philadelphia 2
Washington 5 FINAL
Columbus 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Toronto 3 FINAL
Florida 2
Ottawa 2 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 3
NY Islanders 2 FINAL(OT)
Dallas 3
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Arizona 1
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
Edmonton 2
San Jose 6 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Ole Miss 82 FINAL
Alabama 74
Eastern Mich 67 FINAL
Ball State 60
Kent State 81 FINAL
Bowling Green 80
Ohio 66 FINAL
Buffalo 93
Georgetown 60 FINAL
Butler 54
Toledo 77 FINAL
Central Mich 85
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
Dayton 75
Youngstown St 67 FINAL
Detroit 77
North Carolina 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 49
Loyola-Maryland 45 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Iowa 77 FINAL
Indiana 63
Akron 63 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 70
Army 52 FINAL
Navy 56
Maryland 60 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Kennesaw St 54 FINAL
USC Upstate 90
Jacksonville 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 81
Lipscomb 76 FINAL
Northern Ky 73
Stetson 67 FINAL
North Florida 81
Wright State 57 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 60
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Northern Ill 65
Nebraska Omaha 80 FINAL
North Dakota 78
Houston Baptist 71 FINAL
Abilene Christian 83
NC State 66 FINAL
Clemson 61
Texas A&M 62 FINAL
Florida 66
Kentucky 72 FINAL
Georgia 64
West Virginia 69 FINAL
Kansas 76
Auburn 61 FINAL
Missouri 63
Michigan 78 FINAL
Northwestern 82
Villanova 76 FINAL
Creighton 72
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
NJIT 51 FINAL
UMass Lowell 60
West Virginia 55 FINAL
Kansas State 59
TCU 45 FINAL
Texas 79
Fresno State 61 FINAL
Air Force 41
San Jose St 76 FINAL
Boise State 91
Nevada 61 FINAL
Colorado State 68
UNLV 61 FINAL
San Diego State 76
Wyoming 61 FINAL
Utah State 57
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