A LeBron James-led team has captured the last eight Eastern Conference crowns, but his departure for the Los Angeles Lakers in the offseason means it is wide open this year.
The Boston Celtics are fully healthy and enter the season as the favourites in the East, while the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers also appear ready to compete for the conference's top spot.
We take a look at the Eastern Conference in 2018-19.
Toronto made the biggest move of the offseason when they acquired Kawhi Leonard, along with Danny Green, from the San Antonio Spurs for a package involving DeMar DeRozan. Leonard, one of the best players in the league, will add more star power to a team that won 59 games last season while Green is a solid three-and-D player with championship experience who will improve the Raptors' starting line-up. Those two pieces have elevated Toronto into NBA title contention.
This one's easy. Cleveland has reached four straight NBA Finals and won the title in 2016. James, however, will be in a Lakers jersey this season and he will be almost impossible to replace. The Cavaliers drafted exciting rookie point guard Collin Sexton and still have Kevin Love, who signed a contract extension in the summer. But they will fall from the top of the conference standings and will be lucky to sneak into the playoffs in 2018-19.
Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo should be one of the best players in the conference and is a dark horse MVP candidate. The Bucks are set to bring back almost their entire core from a team that had a 44-38 record in 2017-18 and have added center Brook Lopez, who signed a one-year contract in July. He will be a low-post scoring threat off the bench. New coach Mike Budenholzer will also open up the offense.
The 23-year-old forward is entering his first season with the Bulls after he agreed to a two-year, $40 million contract in mid-July. Parker has dealt with knee injuries throughout his four NBA seasons. But he has been a reliable scorer when healthy as he has averaged 15.3 points per game and knocked down 35.2 percent of his career three-pointers. Parker should get more touches with the Bulls, especially with Lauri Markkanen out for six to eight weeks with an elbow injury.
Atlantic: Boston Celtics
The Celtics, 76ers and Raptors, the three best teams in the East, are in the Atlantic Division. Boston are the most talented and should take home the division crown, but it will be close.
Central: Milwaukee Bucks
Antetokounmpo will be the most fun player to watch in the conference on a nightly basis. Along with a strong supporting cast, he will lead Milwaukee to the top spot in the division.
Southeast: Washington Wizards
John Wall and Bradley Beal are still one of the best backcourts in the conference. The Miami Heat should also be competing for this spot throughout the season.
1. Boston Celtics
2. Toronto Raptors
3. Philadelphia 76ers
4. Milwaukee Bucks
5. Indiana Pacers
6. Washington Wizards
7. Miami Heat
8. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Celtics were without forward Gordon Hayward for all but one game last season and star point guard Kyrie Irving went down with an injury in mid-March. But Boston still finished 2017-18 with a 55-27 record and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they fell to the Cavaliers in seven games.
Both players will be healthy at the start of the season. Their return will allow the Celtics to mix and match off the bench as young forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and guard Terry Rozier received valuable playoff minutes in their absence.
On paper, Boston head into the season as the deepest and most talented team in the East.
16 de enero 2019
|Panthers owner Tepper doesn´t rule out Newton missing 2019 because of shoulder injury|
|De Ligt will be world´s best centre-back – Koeman|
|Ronaldo a ´perfect machine´, says Gattuso|
|Barcelona? I can´t say anything - Stuani|
|Silva upbeat about Man City title chances|
|Celtics youngsters say Irving´s callout ´came from a good place´|
|NFL playoffs: Patrick Mahomes v Tom Brady|
|NFL playoffs: Jared Goff v Drew Brees|
|Sixers sign Brewer to 10-day contract|
|Lozano and Morgan scoop CONCACAF awards|
|Lakers ´optimistic´ about LeBron injury|
|Giants produce mammoth fourth quarter against Nymburk|
|Austin FC to join MLS in 2021|
15 de enero 2019
|Henry, Vieira look forward to reunion when Monaco host Nice|
|Barcelona reject Neymar phone call reports|
|Wentz is the quarterback ´going forward´, says Eagles coach Pederson|
|Gattuso: Higuain has not asked to leave|
|Drew Brees by the Opta numbers: 10 facts for QB´s milestone birthday|
|Harry Kane injury: England captain´s history of ankle woe|
|Harry Kane injury: Opta numbers suggest Spurs struggles|
|Harry Kane injury: Tottenham´s options in striker´s absence|
|Allegri: Supercoppa clash practice for Champions League knockouts|
|First in clean sheets, second to Schmeichel in titles – Cech´s Premier League career in Opta numbers|
|Warrington sign England star Widdop|
|Gatland confident Wales can win Six Nations|
|Fulham sign Netherlands international Babel|
|Harry Kane injury: Games the Tottenham striker will miss|
|Simeone focused on matches, not transfer dealings|
|Iran v Iraq: Pressure off for Queiroz & Katanec|
|Vietnam v Yemen: Kocian keeps the faith|
|Darren Bravo back in West Indies Test side for first time since 2016|
|Kane out until March with ankle injury|
|South Korea v China: Son arrives for Group C dead rubber|
|Kyrgyzstan v Philippines: Eriksson remains hopeful|
|McGrath to miss Six Nations, Sexton nearing fitness|
|Kohli savours Dhoni ´classic´|
|Ford: People obsess over Farrell fly-half battle|
|EFL asks Leeds to explain ´spygate´ scandal|
|No alarms for Djokovic and Zverev, Raonic masters Kyrgios|
|Australia 3 Syria 2: Rogic breaks hearts with stoppage-time winner|
|Palestine 0 Jordan 0: Socceroos winner keeps hopes alive for Lions of Canaan|
|Halep: The results don´t matter any more|
|Hard work for Halep as Serena and Osaka sail through|
|Napoli director to take legal action over ´false´ quotes about Rog move|
|Alexander-Arnold facing absence of up to four weeks|
|Solari: We only have one number nine at Real Madrid|
|Halfpenny & Young named in Wales´ Six Nations squad|
|Crawford v Khan confirmed for April 20|
|Centurion Kohli inspires India to level ODI series|
|Wagner hails Huddersfield togetherness after exit|
|Hughes to join Bristol, Le Roux also leaving Wasps|
|ICC appoints Sawhney as new CEO|
|Forest appoint club legend O´Neill as new manager|
|Halep digs deep to gain revenge over Kanepi|
|Cech to retire at the end of the season|
|Brisbane Roar 0 Melbourne Victory 5: Barbarouses treble sinks Roar|
|´Struggling´ Azarenka breaks down in tears following Australian Open exit|
|Dominant Djokovic coasts through in Melbourne|
|Allardyce admits Huddersfield appointment is ´highly unlikley´|
|Choupo-Mouting: Manchester United have changed|
|Faletau set to miss Six Nations with another broken arm|
|UEFA opens disciplinary proceedings into Chelsea chants|
|Serena´s the greatest ever - Bouchard relishing second-round clash|
|Mbappe can become the new Pele - Pele|
|Wade needs to learn quickly if he´s to make NFL switch a success, says Sanu|
|Azarenka beaten in first Australian Open match since 2016|
|Kings use balanced scoring attack to top Trail Blazers|
|Hewitt laughs off Tomic criticism|
|We love Ederson the way he is - Guardiola on Man City´s sweeper keeper|
|Serena: The greatest win of my career|