Community Shootaround

Community Shootaround: Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers expected to be competitive in 2022/23 after trading for Donovan Mitchell, who is having a career year in Cleveland. That has certainly been the case — the Cavs are currently 11th in offense, second in defense, and third in the league in net rating, per

However, the season has been a little bit of a roller coaster, though there have definitely been more highs than lows. For example, the Cavs have had four winning streaks of three-plus games (three, four, five and eight), but also two losing streaks of three-plus games (three and five).

After starting 22-11, Cleveland has gone 7-9 over the past 16 games to currently sit with a 29-20 record, the fifth seed in the East. Interestingly, while trading for Mitchell has raised the team’s ceiling, the Cavs were actually 30-19 at this point last year before a disappointing finish (largely due to injuries) — they went 14-19 down the stretch and lost both play-in games.

Injuries to Mitchell, Darius Garland, Kevin Love and Dean Wade haven’t helped in 2022/23. But the one area people pointed to as a weakness entering the season — the small forward position — has yet to be solidified. Caris LeVert, Lamar Stevens and Isaac Okoro have all gotten starting opportunities, but none have really taken hold of the job.

Regaining a top-four seed will be crucial for a possible playoff run — the Cavs are 20-5 at home, but only 9-15 on the road. Cleveland will almost certainly attempt to upgrade the roster in the next couple weeks, but it doesn’t have many assets to work with, as no first-round picks are available to trade after acquiring Mitchell.

We want to know what you think. Who should the Cavs be targeting ahead of the trade deadline? Do you think they’ll be able to acquire them? Head to the comments and let us know what you think.

Community Shootaround: 72-Game Schedule

Fans who attended Friday’s game in Cleveland to watch Stephen Curry‘s only visit of the season left the arena disappointed. Not only did the Cavaliers lose to the Warriors, but Curry sat out the game for load management along with Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins.

Golden State was coming off an intense Finals rematch with the Celtics the night before. Curry, who recently returned from a shoulder injury, logged 43 minutes in that overtime game. Thompson, Green and Wiggins each played at least 36 minutes, so it was in the team’s best interest not to push them on back-to-back nights.

“I feel terrible for fans who buy tickets expecting to see someone play and they don’t get to see that person play,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters, including Tom Withers of The Associated Press. “It’s a brutal part of the business. It’s why I’m going to continue to advocate for 72-game seasons.”

Kerr believes a reduced schedule would cut down on injuries and create a better overall quality of play. It would also result in fewer games where fans pay big money for tickets and wind up seeing the league’s top stars in street clothes.

“You take 10 games off the schedule, it always feels like with 10 games left in the year everybody’s sort of had it anyways,” Kerr said. “That creates enough rest where we don’t have to have some of these crazy situations. I think you’d see way fewer games missed from players.”

The pace of modern NBA games is placing a greater strain on players, points out Mike D. Sykes II of USA Today. In the 1990s, there were only 93.7 possessions in an average game, but that number has risen to 99.27 in the 2020s. The increase in three-point shooting also means there’s more of the court that defenses have to cover, so players are constantly in motion.

Fewer games would mean less wear and tear on players, which should result in a higher quality of competition every night and a better chance that teams will be at or near full strength for the playoffs.

Of course, there are revenue concerns that would come with a shorter season, which may prevent league officials from ever considering such a change. A proposed mid-season tournament could help mitigate that, but the league and the players union have yet to agree on the specifics of how that tournament would work.

A shortened season would also result in fewer games being available for television and streaming, which would be a major issue as the NBA negotiates its next broadcast deal. The current contract expires after the 2023/24 season, and the league is hoping to top $75 billion with its next TV package.

We want to get your opinion. Do you agree with Kerr that the league would be better off with a 72-game season? And do you believe it’s realistic? Head to the comments and give us your feedback.

Community Shootaround: Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder are often pointed to as an example of a team boldly and blatantly tanking, yet they were in the playoffs just three years ago. In the past two seasons, they’ve gone 22-50 (tied for the fourth-worst record) and 24-58 (fourth-worst outright).

Entering 2022/23, external expectations were low. Oddsmakers had their over/under win total at 22.5, and 54.2% of our voters took the over — not exactly a resounding majority, but a majority nonetheless.

As ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes (Insider link), Oklahoma City has been on fire lately, going 11-5 over the last 16 games. At 22-23, the Thunder are now in a virtual tie for the No. 7 seed in the West with the Timberwolves, Clippers and Warriors, and only trail the Jazz by a half-game for the No. 6 spot.

They are now 12th in the league with a plus-1.1 net rating, per, with the league’s 10th-ranked defense. Lowe believes the Thunder are “in the play-in race to stay,” and thinks they might be a playoff team for years to come if they’re able to slide in this year.

Star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a prime candidate to be a first-time All-Star, has led the way. But the Thunder have talented players across the roster, and have found success with a rangy, switchable lineup featuring Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Luguentz Dort, rookie wing Jalen Williams, and Kenrich Williams or Mike Muscala at center.

According to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, Giddey’s level of play has been noteworthy during the hot streak — he’s averaging 18.5 PPG, 7.6 RPG and 6.6 APG on .531/.364/.920 shooting over the past 14 games (31.3 MPG) — and his coach has taken notice of the 20-year-old’s improved finishing ability.

He’s definitely physical in driving,” head coach Mark Daigneault said. “That’s definitely showing up. Early in the year, I thought he was just trying to shoot over people, and now he’s taking space up. Then when he creates that kind of space and his size and strength, he’s getting stuff around the basket. He’s getting a lot more lately.”

The Thunder have a treasure trove of draft assets at their disposal, and their recent second overall draft pick, big man Chet Holmgren, hasn’t even played yet (he’s out for the season with foot surgery). Things are definitely trending up in Oklahoma City.

We want to know what you think. Do you agree with Lowe that the Thunder will be in the West’s play-in hunt for the rest of the season? Head to the comments and share your thoughts on the Thunder’s outlook for the second half of ’22/23.

Community Shootaround: All-Star Teams

The NBA released its third round of fan voting on Thursday, and the results haven’t changed much from the first batch. LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo are leading the way for their respective conferences, with Kevin Durant close behind Antetokounmpo in the East.

The West’s projected starting lineup (three in the frontcourt and two backcourt players), listed in the order of fan votes received, would be James, Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic and Anthony Davis. The East’s would be Antetokounmpo, Durant, Jayson Tatum, Kyrie Irving and Donovan Mitchell.

Fan voting counts for 50% of the overall vote toward the starters, while current players and the media account for 25% apiece. The starters will be announced next Thursday on TNT.

Davis and Durant are currently injured, so they might not compete in the showcase event, though both players could return before February 19, when the game takes place. A couple other star players — Zion Williamson and Devin Booker — are currently injured as well, and it’s hard to say if they’ll be selected due to the amount of time they’ve missed, even if they would clearly be deserving if healthy (Williamson could be a starter; he trails Davis by around 78,000 votes).

Let’s assume the starters remain unchanged. The league’s coaches select the reserves, with seven players chosen from each conference.

Joel Embiid is a lock in the East, and I view Pascal Siakam and Jaylen Brown as locks as well. That leaves four spots from a crowded list of contenders that includes Tyrese Haliburton (also injured, but perhaps short term), Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, James Harden, Trae Young, Darius Garland, Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle Kuzma, Jrue Holiday, Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Nic Claxton, and Brook Lopez, among others.

Out West, let’s assume Williamson makes it. Ja Morant and Domantas Sabonis should be locks, in my opinion. That would leave four remaining spots from a field that includes Booker, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lauri Markkanen, Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane, De’Aaron FoxPaul George, Damian Lillard, Jerami Grant, CJ McCollum, Aaron Gordon and Anthony Edwards, among others.

Dan Devine of Yahoo Sports breaks down some of the potential first-time All-Stars into four tiers: Near locks, legit cases, the best-team effect, and long shots. Gilgeous-Alexander, Markkanen and Haliburton are near locks, according to Devine — I would go a step further and say all three should absolutely make the team. That would only leave two spots in the West and three in the East.

As for Devine’s legit cases, that’s where Fox, Brunson and McCollum land. Jackson, Bane, Gordon and Claxton fall into the “best-team effect” category, while Edwards, Grant, Wagner and Banchero are long shots, per Devine.

One of Adebayo or Butler will make it for the Heat, perhaps even both — they’re great two-way players. Butler has missed several games. Adebayo would be my pick. I think DeRozan is deserving. That leaves one spot, and for me it’s down to Brunson or Randle. I’ll take Brunson.

The last two spots in the West are really hard. Booker was awesome when healthy (the Suns are 18-10 in his full games and 3-14 with him hurt). Fox has been a monster in the clutch and the Kings have exceeded expectations. Lillard is playing as well as he ever has, but the Blazers are below .500. Jackson is arguably the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year and the Grizzlies are 31-13. Gordon has been the second-best player on the West’s current No. 1 seed.

Fox has played 11 more games than Booker and eight more than Lillard. I’ll give him the nod. Jackson is my final pick — he has been a force on both ends since he returned from offseason foot surgery.

We want to know what you think. What would your All-Star picks be? Head to the comments and let us know what you think.

Community Shootaround: Portland Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers were one of the teams I was most interested in following entering the 2022/23 season. Perhaps most importantly, I was curious to see how Damian Lillard would perform after the first lengthy injury absence of his career following abdominal surgery last season.

Lillard has been as brilliant as ever offensively, averaging 29.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG and 7.1 APG on .455/.366/.898 shooting, including a career-best .638 true shooting percentage, through 32 games (35.6 MPG). So, no worries there.

As we noted when we checked in on the Blazers at the end of August, the new front office, led by general manager Joe Cronin, reshaped the roster around Lillard through a series of trades, acquiring Josh Hart, Jerami Grant and Justise Winslow. The team also added Gary Payton II in free agency, re-signed Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic, and selected Shaedon Sharpe No. 7 overall in June’s draft.

Portland got off to a terrific start, going 9-3 over its first 12 games. Unfortunately, it turns out that hot start wasn’t sustainable, as the Blazers have gone 12-20 since. They currently sit with a 21-23 record, the No. 11 seed in the West (they are 16-16 when Lillard plays).

Payton has missed most of the season with injury, as has Nassir Little, who recently returned from a fractured hip. Winslow is currently sidelined with an ankle sprain. The team’s bench depth has definitely been tested, even though the starters have been quite healthy overall.

Sharpe has been up and down, which is to be expected for a 19-year-old rookie who didn’t play at all in college. Grant has been very good, posting a career-best .621 TS% while playing solid defense.

Hart was great in 13 games (32.1 MPG) with Portland last season, averaging 19.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 4.3 APG and 1.2 SPG on .503/.373/.772 shooting, including a career-high 6.4 3-point attempts per contest. However, as John Hollinger of The Athletic writes, Hart has been a very reluctant shooter in ’22/23, averaging just 2.0 3PA despite playing a heavy workload (a career-high 34.2 MPG through 42 games).

Even with notable offensive weapons around him, it’s odd to see a player coming off his best individual season pass up shots like Hart has this season — he’s averaging just 7.1 FGA and 9.5 PPG. Complicating matters further is his unique contract and the team’s future cap outlook, Hollinger notes.

The Blazers want to re-sign or extend Grant, which is understandable. But Hart is almost certain to decline his non-guaranteed $12.96MM player option for next season in search of a longer deal. Keeping both while staying under the luxury tax might be impossible, according to Hollinger, who wonders if Portland would be better off dealing Hart at the deadline while they can still get value for him.

The 27-year-old is a solid defender, excellent rebounder and smart passer, plus he’s a vocal leader who plays with plenty of energy and effort. He will have positive value if Portland does move him.

The last thing I was interested in monitoring with Portland was the backcourt fit of Lillard and Simons, two scoring guards with poor defense. The results haven’t been great — the Blazers rank 11th in offense, but 22nd in defense. It’s hard to envision that changing as long as they’re together.

I actually like both players a lot individually, so this isn’t as critical as it might seem; I just think they’re a poor fit. I could easily see Simons thriving as the lead guard in Portland or another location — he averaged 29.0 PPG and 5.9 APG on .462/.419/.940 shooting in 10 games without Lillard.

The Blazers seem intent on being as competitive as possible this season. They’re only 2.5 games back of the Mavericks, the West’s No. 5 seed, and they could definitely end up there if things go right. But do they have what it takes to win a playoff series if they make it? Anything beyond that seems unlikely, even with Lillard playing at such a high level.

We want to know what you think.Where will the Trail Blazers finish in the standings this season? Can they make noise in the playoffs, if they make it? Should they move Hart while they can still get value for him, or hold off and try to re-sign him, even if it means going into the luxury tax? There are a lot of questions for this team, but not many easy answers.

Community Shootaround: Coach Of The Year Contenders

Now that we’re a little more than halfway through the 2022/23 season, some contenders have emerged for the NBA’s Coach of the Year award. According to, Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla is the betting favorite at +175, followed by Nets coach Jacque Vaughn at +400.

Four other head coaches are tied at +650: Taylor Jenkins of the Grizzlies, Michael Malone of the Nuggets, Mike Brown of the Kings and Willie Green of the Pelicans. The next closest on the list is Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff at +1400, and everyone else is at +2000 or higher.

Last season, Monty Williams won the award after leading the Suns to the best regular season record in the league (64-18, eight wins better than second-place Memphis). Jenkins was the runner-up, followed by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

The Celtics entered the offseason as a title favorite after reaching the Finals last season, but the organization was thrown into disarray when coach Ime Udoka was suspended for the season. Despite Mazzulla being the youngest head coach in the league and only having an interim tag, Boston hasn’t skipped a beat under its new leader, as the team currently has the best record in the NBA at 32-13. He certainly deserves credit for staying even-keeled under tumultuous circumstances.

Similarly, the Nets had a ton of drama in the offseason and started out 2-5 before parting ways with former coach Steve Nash. Vaughn helped right the ship, with Brooklyn going 25-10 since he was promoted. We’ll see how the Nets do without Kevin Durant (they’re 0-2 so far), but clearly the team has taken Vaughn’s messaging to heart.

The Nuggets are the No. 1 seed in the West, and Malone has seamlessly integrated offseason additions Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown. The returns of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. have been a little less smooth, which is to be expected after major injuries. Still, it’s hard to argue with their place in the standings.

The Grizzlies have had key players miss significant time, including Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane, and they lost two rotation players from last season (Kyle Anderson and De’Anthony Melton) and replaced them with rookies, but they’re still tied with Denver at 30-13. Pretty easy to make a case for Jenkins here.

Green has guided the Pelicans to a 26-18 record, the No. 3 seed in the West, despite missing star Brandon Ingram for most of the season. Zion Williamson is now sidelined as well, yet New Orleans keeps grinding out victories with its impressive depth.

The Kings are the West’s No. 5 seed at 24-18 in Brown’s first season at the helm, and could break their 16-year playoff drought, which is an NBA record. The turnaround has been impressive, as Sacramento went just 30-52 last season.

Who do you think will win the Coach of the Year award? Will Mazzulla keep the Celtics at the top of the standings and win as an interim coach? Head to the comments and let us know what you think.

Community Shootaround: Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves got a taste of the postseason last spring and chose to make a bold move that their management believed would make them serious contenders.

They gave up a package of players and four first-round picks, including their 2023 choice, to acquire center Rudy Gobert from Utah. To this point, it’s been a disastrous move.

Minnesota is five games below .500 after losing at home to Detroit, which owns the league’s worst record. The Timberwolves were outscored 66-40 in the second half while getting booed by the home fans.

Gobert was supposed to stabilize the Timberwolves’ defense, but they still cannot get enough stops. While the Timberwolves rank a respectable sixth in field goal percentage defense, they’re 22nd in points allowed.

To be fair, Minnesota has been operating the last five weeks without its best player. Karl-Anthony Towns suffered a right calf strain and hasn’t played Nov. 28. There’s still no timetable for his return.

Without him, Minnesota is heavily reliant on the guard tandem of Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell for scoring production. Russell, who is making over $31MM this season, is headed to unrestricted free agency in the summer.

The Timberwolves have also struggled with their rebounding and the bench hasn’t helped greatly, ranking 18th in the league in scoring.

Beyond Russell’s expiring contract, they don’t have many assets to deal at this point due to the Gobert trade.

That leads us to our question of the day: Should the Timberwolves exercise patience and hope they can turn things around when Towns returns? Or should they attempt to make moves to replenish assets and build a better team for next season?

Please take to the comments section to weigh in on this topic. We look forward to your input.

Community Shootaround: Hield, Turner

Buddy Hield and Myles Turner are two of the bigger names churning through the rumor mill this season. The Pacers’ duo could potentially deliver some valuable assets in a trade, whether they’re packaged together or dealt separately.

The Pacers are at the .500 mark after losing on Monday and would qualify for the play-in tournament if the season ended today. They have two dynamic backcourt pieces in Tyrese Haliburton and Rookie of the Year candidate Bennedict Mathurin.

No one looks at Indiana as a serious contender for the Eastern Conference title. Dealing one or both of those veterans could move the Pacers closer to that eventual goal.

The longest-running rumor involving Hield and Turner is a possible trade for the Lakers’ Russell Westbrook and his expiring contract, along with Lakers’ draft picks. Turner’s name has been linked to a variety of other teams, including the Raptors, Clippers and Warriors.

The two Pacers could help a current contender in very different ways. Hield’s biggest selling point, of course, is his perimeter shooting. He’s currently second in the league in 3-pointers made, as well as percentage of points via the long ball.

Hield is signed for one more season, though his salary actually drops from approximately $21.2MM this year to $19.3MM in 2023/24.

Turner is arguably the league’s premier shot-blocker. He has led the NBA in that category twice and is currently ranked tied for third (2.1 per game). He’s also averaging career bests in points (16.2 PPG), rebounding (7.9 RPG) and 3-point shooting (41.3%).

Turner can be an unrestricted free agent after the season, though he and his reps have reportedly engaged in preliminary discussions with Indiana management regarding an extension.

That brings us to today’s question: Should the Pacers look to deal Hield and/or Turner and collect more future assets? Or should they should hold onto them, and even sign Turner to an extension?

Please take to the comments section to weigh in on this topic. We look forward to your input.

Community Shootaround: Christmas Day Games

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate! December 25 is one of the marquee dates on the NBA’s calendar, with the league offering up the following five-game slate to audiences this year, in order of tip-off:

  • Philadelphia 76ers at New York Knicks
  • Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks
  • Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics
  • Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors
  • Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets

Given that the schedule is created months in advance, it’s a virtually impossible task for the NBA to pick the 10 best teams for its Christmas Day schedule. You could argue that’s not even the goal — after all, it’s probably safe to assume NBA executives didn’t expect the Knicks and Lakers to be top-10 teams this season. They were chosen to play on December 25 because of the size of their respective markets and fan bases.

Still, the NBA did reasonably well with this season’s schedule. The Sixers and Knicks have both surged in December and enter today’s game on hot streaks. The Bucks/Celtics matchup is a clash of the two clubs who have traded the East’s No. 1 seed back and forth for much of the season. And with Devin Booker back, the Suns and Nuggets (both top-four seeds in the West) will have all their stars available for the late game tonight.

Injuries to Anthony Davis and Stephen Curry take some of the luster off the Lakers’ and Warriors‘ games, and both clubs have struggled this season anyway. Still, the defending champions are assured of a spot on Christmas Day, and their opponent – the Grizzlies – is one of the league’s most exciting teams, so it’s hard to complain about that game. The Mavericks/Lakers contest is the worst of the bunch based on the two teams’ records, but it will still feature LeBron James vs. Luka Doncic.

Which teams not in action today deserved a Christmas Day showcase? In the East, you could make a case for the Cavaliers and the Nets, but Cleveland wasn’t expected to be quite this good this soon, and Brooklyn’s roster appeared to be very much in flux when the NBA was setting its schedule, as Kevin Durant wryly observed earlier this week (Twitter video link via Ian Begley of

It would have been great to see a full-strength Pelicans squad playing on Christmas, but they weren’t considered a sure thing entering the season, and Zion Williamson‘s health is always a question mark — he has actually missed the last two games, while Brandon Ingram has been sidelined since November 25, so New Orleans likely wouldn’t have had its full arsenal available today.

The Clippers are another notable omission out West, and the NBA probably wouldn’t have minded finding room for them on the schedule with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George healthy and beginning to round into form.

We want to know what you think of this year’s December 25 schedule. Which of today’s games are you most excited about? Which ones do you think you might skip? Which teams are you disappointed not to see playing today?

Head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Community Shootaround: Best Team In The East

When we took a closer look at the Western Conference earlier this week, we pointed out that the No. 1 seed had changed hands many times this season, with eight different teams holding it at some point and five of those clubs spending at least six days as the West’s top team.

That hasn’t been the case in the Eastern Conference, where the Celtics and Bucks have essentially shared the top seed all season. According to Basketball-Reference, Milwaukee held it from October 24 to November 13, Boston had it from November 14 to December 17, and the two teams have traded it back and forth during the past week.

Milwaukee and Boston have made a strong case to be considered the East’s most serious championship threats. The Celtics have been especially impressive, posting the NBA’s best offensive rating (116.6) and net rating (+6.0) while getting an MVP-caliber performance from Jayson Tatum. They’ve also spent most of the season playing without their best rim protector, Robert Williams, and could have an even higher ceiling now that he’s back.

The Bucks have stuck right there with them though, buoyed by the league’s third-best defense and an MVP candidate of their own in forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. Like Boston, Milwaukee has gotten off to a strong start despite playing shorthanded — All-Star forward Khris Middleton has been limited to seven games and has struggled mightily in those appearances, so the Bucks could presumably reach another gear if and when they’re fully healthy and firing on all cylinders.

Both the Celtics and Bucks have been up and down in recent weeks, however. Boston has lost five of seven games and actually has the NBA’s worst offensive rating (107.0) during the month of December. Milwaukee has lost four of its last seven.

As the East’s leaders have struggled, several other would-be contenders have closed the gap at the top of the standings, starting with the Cavaliers. The offseason addition of Donovan Mitchell has helped Cleveland take a step forward this season, while the frontcourt duo of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley has led the NBA’s best defense (107.2 rating).

Cleveland’s +6.0 net rating is tied with Boston for the league’s best mark. The Cavs also have a pair of victories over Boston under their belts already this season and beat Milwaukee on Wednesday, proving they can hang with the East’s top clubs.

Meanwhile, two teams expected to be title contenders before the season began have been on fire lately after getting off to sluggish starts — the Nets have won eight games in a row and 12 of their last 13, while the Sixers are riding their own seven-game winning streak. Brooklyn is now within two games of the East’s top seed, while Philadelphia is just three games out.

The Nets’ offense has looked in recent weeks like the well-oiled machine that we thought it could be, as they comfortably lead the NBA with a 120.4 offensive rating in December. Kevin Durant has played some of the best basketball of his career, Kyrie Irving is staying out of the news and playing great basketball following his return from an eight-game suspension, and Ben Simmons is looking a whole lot more comfortable on both ends of the court after a concerning start to the season.

Somewhat surprisingly, Philadelphia has been most effective on the defensive end of the ball, trailing only the Cavs with a 108.3 defensive rating, but James Harden and Joel Embiid have been clicking on offense lately too. In a win over the Clippers on Friday, Embiid racked up 44 points while Harden had 21 assists. The offense should take another step forward once Tyrese Maxey returns from a foot injury.

The East’s top five seeds look like the best bets to come out of the conference, but we should also mention the Knicks (18-15), who have the East’s best net rating (+10.2) in December, along with the Hawks (17-16), Pacers (17-16), Heat (16-17), and Raptors (15-18), who are lurking in play-in territory for now.

We want to know what you think. Which team do you expect to finish the regular season holding the East’s No. 1 seed? Will the same club represent the conference in the NBA Finals, or will another team make a deeper playoff run? Do you consider the East to be as wide open as the West, or are there fewer real title threats here beyond the top few seeds?

Head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!