Poll: Biggest Eastern Conference Threat To Cavs?

While oddsmakers – and most NBA fans – still expect to see a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals this June, there’s no guarantee that the Warriors and Cavaliers will come out of their respective conferences once again. The Cavs, in particular, looked ordinary in January, finishing one game below .500 for the month, with a 7-8 record.

Last spring, it was the Raptors who battled the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals, pushing LeBron James and company to six games before eventually losing the series. And for most of the first half of this season, Toronto appeared to be Cleveland’s top challenger in the conference once again.

However, the Raptors’ January struggles (8-9) mirrored the Cavs’, and Toronto has already compiled an 0-3 record this year against the defending champions. Injuries to Patrick Patterson and DeMar DeRozan have played a part in the Raptors’ swoon, but there’s still reason to question whether they’ll be the biggest threat out of the East to the Cavs in the postseason.

Led by Eastern Conference Player of the Month Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics have moved into second place in the East, pulling within just two and a half games of the Cavs. The Wizards have also surged in recent weeks — the team is 26-12 since its 2-8 start, and has matched the Celtics’ current five-game winning streak.

Behind those top four teams in the standings, the Hawks have continued to play well even after trading Kyle Korver, and the Pacers have looked very impressive at times, including on their current four-game winning streak.

The Cavs may ultimately make it out of the East once again, but these clubs – and others – will look to give the champs all they can handle in the series leading up to the Finals. Teams like the Raptors and Celtics also have plenty of assets available to potentially fortify their rosters in the coming weeks, making them even more dangerous.

What do you think? Which of the Eastern Conference contenders has the best chance to knock off the Cavs this spring?

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30 thoughts on “Poll: Biggest Eastern Conference Threat To Cavs?

  1. Pacers have the most talent. And they have the only player who’s truly challenged LeBron, who’s also the second best player in the east. Don’t sleep on them.

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    • GuruGray

      Paul George is not the 2nd best player in the East and isn’t the defender he used to be. In fact that whole team is garbage defensively and will be lucky to make it out of the first round. I’ll put it on record that I actually picked the Pacers to go to the conference finals

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  2. Drew Scott

    Paul George can’t even guard Melonyet alone guard lebron and offensively he’s good but not great yet….I think no one can challenge the Cavs in the east this year, if the Knicks can get it together and go on a crazy run like 23-8 I think they got a chance of there
    Core can play at a night level just saying….

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    • Drew Scott

      Melo* …defensively he can’t bang and doesn’t have that strength ..

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      • But he has guarded against Melo and LeBron (albeit in the past) and held them to a respectable shooting night (didn’t shut them down but it’s not like they went off either). Also, if the card being pulled is if the team’s core is playing at full efficiency every night, then the Raptors and Celtics are still better than the Knicks. Porzingas would be the only matchup advantage, because even though Melo can score almost like no other, he still can’t defend.

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    • Im sorry, are you saying that the knicks are the only team in the east that can challenge the Cavs?

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  3. JJCASH

    People are crazy. Boston barely beat Raps (on the second night of an OT back to back) at home, and DeRozan wasn’t even playing. Raps are biggest threat. IT’s game is not built for playoffs.

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    • mcconaugheyslincoln

      Maybe. If the celts add at the deadline they beat the Raps. Raps will stand pat for sure. But are at the moment 3rd best. But in a playoff series atm the Raps beat the Celts.

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      • JJCASH

        Disagree. Raps will do something, but Boston could add another star. But DeRozan has been out for this losing streak and the team is shook over trade rumors. Raps still second best in East IMO.

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        • Celtics aren’t adding another star this year. Too hard to get the player acclimated and adjusted. Also, the price alone is deemed too much for Ainge. A trade for a star is pulling at least one of the Brooklyn picks and (unless the other Brooklyn pick is thrown in) likely two rotation players at the least (between Crowder/Smart/Olynyk/Rozier).

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          • GuruGray

            I was at the Celtics game last night and the Raptors are a much more complete team. If IT didn’t go insane and drop 44, which is not sustainable in the playoffs, then they would have lost. Game would have been different if DeRozan had played. Granted no Avery Bradley for Boston, but you can’t compare DeRozan to Bradley.

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    • To be fair, the C’s were without their best defender and second best offensive player (AB)…Heck, he’s been out for pretty much the last month… And they were without KO who is their best shooting big and solid defensively (surprisingly so). I’d say that they were pretty even last night all things considered.

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      • Shills26

        The Raptors were without their best player, according to many and even his own teammate KYLE LOWRY. I’m sorry but Bradley<Derozan

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  4. DarkGhost

    Celtics or Raptors take your pick. Neither are going to stop the cavs but they are closest to being able to attempt it.

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  5. I still say the Raptors, but the difference between the Cavs and Raptors is still large (assuming everyone is healthy or relatively healthy). Not even sure who would be the next team after the Raptors though. Pacers have been too streaky (and I’m a Pacers fan) so while they could put up a good fight, I don’t seriously think they could match the Cavs in a 7 game series. Hawks don’t have enough talent. Wizards are hard to really get a good feel for. And while the Celtics have a great offense with IT leading the way, the defense is still terrible. And for all of the (well-deserved) hype that IT gets for his 4th quarter scoring, he scores so much because either the defense is terrible (letting the other team get back into the game) and/or because no one else is consistently hitting their shots.

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  6. Dave4585

    The superteam…Knicks

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    • MatthewBaltimore23

      Lol

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  7. It a matter of who has the best chance to complete against the Cavs. I think it wizards because they’re have the personal. John wall and Bradley Beal who both been for amazing for their team. Especially their mainly otter porter has excellent and Marcus gotrat. The only thing they really a bench.

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    • MatthewBaltimore23

      Agree. Go Wiz!

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    • Grant W

      English please

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  8. jkbuckets

    I gotta say. If the bulls can get their stuff together I truely believe they can challenge Cleveland. Jimmy can d up lebron or kyrie. Taj Gibson is a great defender and can get love. D wade will turn it up in the playoffs and mirotic can be a wild card Again the bulls are at risk of not even making the playoffs and I am a bulls fan. But if they can figure thereselves out they can be a dark horse candidate for the playoffs. In a series with the cavs the biggest thing for us would be matching the cavs 3 pt shooting.

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    • Bulls are hopeless and a lost cause. Not a threat at all to the Cavs. If they play them, they’re gonna get sweeped easily.

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  9. Reflect

    The biggest threat to the Cavs is LeBron James trying to be a GM.

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  10. The Wizards are looking really good. I wouldn’t be surprised if they get a top 3 seed. Don’t sleep on them, if it isn’t this year then look out for them in the upcoming year. Torontos peaking, they can’t beat the Cavs. Boston may have a chance, but its small. I’d say there are no true threats to the Cavs but in the future you need to watch out for the Wizards and even further down the line, the Bucks.

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  11. LASTSON86

    IF the Celtics add one more star, they will be right there nipping at the Cavs heels. They won without Avery Bradley last night AND the 1st 2 games Toronto beat the Celtics they were missing key guys. (1st game no Isaiah Thomas, 2nd game no Avery Bradley) so the Raptors can’t say they are way better then the Celtics. Sorry

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    • Celtics aren’t adding a star this season, getting the new player adjusted would be too hard. Plus, the price for a star is too expensive for Ainge, and some Celtics’ fans, tastes. You’re talking at least one (likely just one) of the Brooklyn picks, plus some combination of Crowder/Smart/Rozier/Olynyk, and some future picks.

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      • LASTSON86

        That’s why I said “IF” they add a star

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    • raps were missing guys too on the first two meetings with celtics. last game celtics won by 1 point LOL and the raps didnt have derozan who would have scored 30+ points. nota fan of both, but i still say raptors are better.

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  12. alexmiller6677

    Honestly I don’t even care, as long as Lebron loses. He’s the most arrogant whiny player since the first Isiah Thomas. I revel in watching him loose and then throw his teammates and organization under the bus.
    Ask yourself this question, did Jordan, Bird, Magic, et all ever blame anyone or did they man up? We all know the answer.
    Look, LJ is physically gifted, but he is the softest superstar, who needs to have a team around him to succeed instead of turning his teammates into better players.

    All that said, if the Celtics are healthy, or the Raptors, they can at least make him work, and in the end the Cav’s aren’t winning the championship this year, or any year with Lebron ever again.

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    • SomeGuywhoknowsbball1234

      Are you daft of just ignorant? Lebron is the G.O.A.T Fact! how can u not say Jordan or bird and magic didnt have a stacked team aswell ?!?! Look at the evidence If Lebron is on a team they are in the finals no matter who they are or who the supporting cast is … Cavs for the repeat!!!!!!

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