Now that LeBron James has left Miami in favor of Cleveland, there is no clear cut dominant team in the NBA Eastern Conference. In fact, if the season were to end today, two teams would quality for the playoffs with records under .500.
This isn’t anything new for the Eastern Conference but what’s disturbing thus far are the teams at the top: Toronto (16-5), Atlanta (14-6) and Washington (14-6).
Given the overall lack of good teams in the East, these three teams are pretty much guaranteed to make the playoffs. But the question is, why are these particular teams off to hot starts? And even better, why aren’t Chicago, Cleveland and Miami in the top three?
The Raptors are clearly winning by outscoring other teams. Toronto ranks second in the league in scoring at 108.9 points per game. Defensively they are not as good allowing 100.3 points per game (19th overall) and are 24th overall in rebounding. One would have to believe that those bad numbers will catch up to them eventually.
Photo: The Toronto Raptors are above all the rest in the Eastern conference after the first 20 games of the season
Photo source: Twitter
The Hawks are well-rounded to begin the season. Atlanta is seventh in points per game (103.7), fourth in assists (25.5) and 11th in points allowed (99.0). The one glaring weakness for the Hawks is team rebounding where they are 27th in the league.
The Wizards have began to shine with point guard John Wall who averages 10.4 assists per game. Veteran forward Paul Pierce has chipped in averaging 13.5 points while teaching the younger players what it takes to win. Washington ranks second is assists per game (25.8), eighth in points allowed (97.7) and ninth in rebounding.
The Cavaliers appear to finally be hitting their stride during their current seven-game win streak.
As for the Bulls, they are sitting with a 12-8 record but are only 2-5 at home. 13 of their first 20 games have been on the road.
The Heat, who were still supposed to be good without James, are off to a disappointing 9-11 record and would be one of the two teams to qualify for the playoffs with an under .500 record.
Other teams in the mix in the East include Milwaukee (11-11) and Brooklyn (8-11). And shockingly enough, both Orlando (9-14) and Boston (7-12) are just one game behind for the eighth playoff spot.
The NBA Eastern Conference is still weak in 2014 but if the teams we expect to be good manage to turn things around, the conference could get stronger as the season progresses.