It’s no secret that the Cleveland Cavaliers have had on and off court woes all season. Since the massive roster overhaul at the trade deadline this season, the Cavs have not been looking much better and lost the 3 seed in the East to the 76ers. There are several teams that want out of the East this year that are looking at that finals spot hungrily. Here are a couple of the teams that could be finally leaving the East this year and making a run at the title.
The Toronto Raptors:
I know, I know, the Raptors choke in the playoffs and aren’t a true one seed team. Although I would agree with this statement usually, I think this postseason could be very different. The Lowry and DeRozan choke narrative may finally go away with this teams new style of basketball. Instead of revolving their offense around iso’s from the two stars, their new system now relies on a lot of ball movement and a lot of opportunities from 3. Against the Wizards in Game 1 (which they finally broke their Game 1 losing streak) Toronto hit 16/30 threes to put them up 114-106. The Wizards have a lot of good defenders on their team (Bradley Beal, John Wall, Kelly Oubre, to name a few) and aren’t pushovers on D *cough* Cavs *cough* so this style of play could easily see them advance past LeBron finally if they meet him in the 2nd round. In this instance, I think the Raptors can outscore the Cavs and whoever they play in the ECF.
The Process is almost complete at this point and the 76ers have had their first 50 win season since 2001 with AI. The Sixers have the ability to defend LeBron with many players (Robert Covington can do his best, Ben Simmons is probably their best bet, maybe Dario Saric). The Sixers also have Joel Embiid, which is a huge mismatch as they do not have anyone to effectively guard him or get past him at the rim. They have a great young pair surrounded by shooters, and I think this is a perfect recipe to get past the Cavs as they can simply outscore them. Even without Embiid, the Sixers have proved they can still take down the Cavs.
Healthy Celtics: Although we have not seen them play all together for more than 5 minutes this season, this injury-ridden Celtics team still managed to grab the 2 seed in the East, without their second best player, and even pulled off an upset against the Bucks in Game 1, without their 2 best players! This Celtics team is going to be scary going into the playoffs with a healthy roster, and with a coach like Brad Stevens, who knows what they can accomplish the ECF.
Image Via Clutchpoints