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Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround: 12/29/15

The Eastern Conference standings more closely resemble a wild card race than the typical separation seen in most seasons. All but five of the 15 conference teams have records at or above .500 entering play Tuesday, a stunning development given the Western Conference’s dominance in the past 15 years.

As expected, the Cavaliers are at the top, though they lead the pack by just two games while dealing with inconsistency and point guard Kyrie Irving‘s absence. Irving returned to action last week and it’s generally assumed that Cleveland will pull away from the cluster of winning teams and grab the top seed in the playoffs.

Beyond the defending conference champions, it’s a game of musical chairs where a team could be in a comfortable spot one week and drop to the bottom half of the standings the next. The teams from No. 2 through No. 10 have at least 12 losses but no more than 14.

Even the team currently in the No. 12 spot, the Knicks, have realistic ambitions of getting into the playoffs this season. The Hawks, who led the conference during the regular season last year, got off to a mediocre start but have won six of their last seven games. The Raptors once again top the Atlantic Division but have the Celtics nipping at their heels.

Veteran, playoff-tested teams like the Bulls and Heat are still in the mix but look more vulnerable than they have in recent seasons.
This leads us to our question of the day: Assuming the Cavaliers will take the top spot in the East, which conference team will emerge as the No. 2 seed in the playoffs?

Please take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the subject. We look forward to what you have to say.

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10 thoughts on “Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround: 12/29/15

  1. I think Toronto has a great chance. They play in the weakest division and have a great backcourt combo in Lowry and DeRozan. DeMarre Carroll and Luis Scola bring the toughness that I thought they were lacking last year. They are also a reletivley weak team and I love Dwayne Casey as a coach.

    • *they have a reletivley strong bench

      • Dana Gauruder

        The Raptors could certainly grab that No. 2 seed. The backcourt is strong and if they can get more out of Carroll in the second half of the season, they’ll be tough to beat.

      • As a Raptors fan I gotta continue to shout them out!
        They’ve been faced with extended absences from two starters in Carroll and Valanciunas, and started the year with the NBA’s most difficult schedule; only the 76ers have played more roadies. DeMar Derozan looks like a different player out there this year and is making a strong case for a max contract. Lowry is a superstar but probably still underrated.
        Gotta correct you guys about the bench play, though. It’s been inconsistent of late and has been a big part of their recent losses. If Cory Joseph isn’t playing like 6th man of the year, the bench gets us in trouble. Terrence Ross and Patrick Patterson can take the blame here.
        Anyway, you can call me bias but I really like the Raptors chances of grabbing the 2. There’s a different feel to this team. With a little consistency from the bench, this team will open a lot of eyes

        • Dana Gauruder

          Perhaps when all the starters get healthy, the bench will settle down. Joseph has struggled this month after a good start.

  2. jacobsigel1025

    Celtics could be a sleeper team for that #2 spot. We may not truly have a star, stud player (unless Isaiah fits the bill). We are an extremely good defensive team. The Celtics have one of the fastest paced teams in the NBA which older teams like Miami cannot keep up with.

    • keep dreaming…. the entire east stinks & the regular season is a joke

    • Dana Gauruder

      Stevens has done a pretty good job juggling a roster filled with role players. It will be interesting to see how he reintegrates Smart into the rotation.

  3. NageGelson1

    If Hoiberg can get the Bulls together and if jimmy starts to play well consistently, Bulls might go #2

    • Dana Gauruder

      There’s a bad vibe around the Bulls — it was that was last year. But they certainly have the talent and experience to grab that seed.

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