The consensus around here (Boston) and most of the country is that no one wants to play Cleveland come playoff time. After what Lebron did last year to the Pistons, I can sort of see that point. Even with Lebron playing out of his mind, I don’t see Cleveland as that scary of a team for either Boston or Detroit. The Cavs are 10-9 since Jan. 25 including losses to Seattle, Milwaukee and Chicago. it doesn’t seem like the trades have made the Cavs any better. They are a slightly above average team before and they are a slightly above average team now. Sure, they have the most unstoppable player in the game, but not much else.
Meanwhile, the Orlando Magic are 13-5 since the end of January and 4.5 games ahead of the Cavs. They have been the better team than Cleveland this season and are playing much better basketball right now. Lebron might be the best player in the NBA, but Dwight Howard ain’t that bad either. And he has a lot more help. In a matchup of the Cavs and Magic, Orlando would have 3 of the top 4 players.
And the team that absolutely no one is talking about is the Washington Wizards. Its amazing that the Wizards have maintained a near .500 record this season with the injuries that they have had – especially after their 0-5 start. If both Arenas and Butler come back at 100% (or close to 100%), the Wizards could be a very tough matchup for anyone come playoff time. And, yes, I realize that this is a very big “if”. But the Wizards were rolling along last year until injuries to the same two guys virtually ended their chances. The good news for Wizards fans is that the players surrounding the big 3 of Arenas, Jamison and Butler have drastically improved this season.
So while the Cavs get all the hype, its the Magic and (possibly) the Wizards that I see as the biggest upset threats to the two top teams in the East.
So be careful what you wish for Celtics and Pistons fans…