Updated: November 25, 2009, 2:55 PM ET
Photo by NBAE via Getty Images Despite starting the season 7-8, Chris Bosh and the Raptors will still be a playoff team in the East.

1. East Playoff Forecast: Raptors In, Sixers Out

By Tim Legler
ESPN.com

We've previewed the Western Conference playoff projections. Now, four weeks into the season, let's look at the East.

First, I see two teams that made the cut last season that won't be booking a road trip come April.

The Sixers aren't in. I think Philly misses Andre Miller a lot. Lou Williams is a good player, but he's more of a combo guard who performs better when he can go get his offense. This now looks like a team that does not have a definitive style of play. They have to figure out what kind of team they are.

The Pistons? Out. They have one of the weakest offensive front lines in the NBA. It's difficult to shoot jumpers night in and night out and win. Their top five players are all jump-shooters, even Charlie Villanueva. That's a very difficult way to win.

So, here's how I see the seeds playing out, 1 through 8:

1. Boston Celtics: Still the best team in the East. The Celtics have the best defensive team, even with guys currently banged up. They know how to win in the most consistent way, which is to defend, rebound and spread it out on offense. Still the class of the East.

2. Orlando Magic: To me the Magic have the deepest offensive team in the East. They have more guys whom you can run a play for and have success in the East. The guys they got in the offseason give them depth. Jason Williams, Brandon Bass, Matt Barnes, Ryan Anderson and Vince Carter give them a lot more depth than they had a year ago.

3. Atlanta Hawks: This team has grown up together. The Hawks have had four of their top six guys together since 2005 and have created some great chemistry. They are a much smarter team than they were. In Joe Johnson they have a star go-to player who can control the game offensively in the fourth quarter. This team can rebound with anybody. That, plus a star and great chemistry, explains why they are 11-3.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers: They are a team that is playing well now but relies too much on one player to win. They don't look to me like they learned the lesson taught last season by Orlando -- you have to have more diversity in the offense. This team has very predictable play sets. On most nights, the Cavs have struggled against good defensive teams.

5. Miami Heat: They are kind of in the same boat as Cleveland. They are so highly reliant on Dwyane Wade. It makes it difficult to win when you have only three guys averaging double figures. You're in trouble if how well your second-best player does that night will determine whether you're going to win or lose.

6. Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings has been sensational. Question now is, can he sustain this? Can he light up defenses like this? It's difficult to form a game plan against a guy this quick. Can he keep shooting this well from deep? This team is going to be over .500. I don't think anybody thought that was going to happen. Ersan Ilyasova and Andrew Bogut both have been great. Bogut is giving the Bucks the productivity they expected when he was the No. 1 overall pick. This team is having fun. As long as Jennings can adjust and adapt to the defenses, Milwaukee can keep it up.

7. Chicago Bulls: They are a team whose best is yet to come. John Salmons has struggled (36.1 percent FG shooting), and the Bulls do miss Tyrus Thomas, who is out with a broken arm. I think you're going to see their best basketball over the next month. Luol Deng has been solid, a guy they need to play at a high level to move higher than a seven seed.

8. Toronto Raptors: The Raptors get this final spot by default. Nobody else is worthy. In many ways this team has been a huge disappointment. I looked at a team with Jose Calderon, Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Bosh as a Canadian version of the Celtics' Big 3. But that team is just so bad defensively. Giving up 108 points a game is not going to get it done, not when you lack depth.

ESPN analyst Tim Legler is a regular contributor to the Daily Dime.

Dimes past: November 6-7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13-14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 20-21 | 22 | 23

2. Wizards owner Abe Pollin's Legacy

By J.A. Adande
ESPN.com
Wizards

If you're in the age range of the typical NBA player, you probably think of Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin as the man who fired Michael Jordan. In fact, that's the exact phrase that appeared at the top of a Google search of Pollin's name Tuesday. And if you do remember him that way, then the image that popped in your head upon hearing the news that Pollin died at age 85 Tuesday was of Jordan driving off from the arena in his convertible Mercedes on May 7, 2003, the day Pollin told him he would not regain his position as Wizards president.

You should stop focusing on that close-up, pull back and look at the bigger picture. Go ahead, click on the link, pan around the neighborhood and look at the sleek new buildings, the restaurants, bars and shops that went up after Pollin paid for the construction of the $260 million Verizon Center. Before he built the arena, the area was filled with run-down row houses. Now, it's a vibrant destination.

To read the entire Adande column, click here

3. Daily Dime Live Recap

ESPN.com writers and TrueHoop Network bloggers chatted with fans and gave their in-game opinions throughout Tuesday night's slate of games -- all in Daily Dime Live.

4. Durant Is In Great Company

Elias Sports Bureau
Durant
Durant

Kevin Durant scored 28 points Tuesday, giving him 407 in 15 games this season. Only three other players in league history had as many as 400 points over the first 15 games of a season at age 21 or younger: LeBron James (twice), Shaquille O'Neal and Michael Jordan.

More from Elias Sports Bureau

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

SPONSORED HEADLINES