Photo by: Charlie Martin
The NBA has returned! On Oct.18, the season opener was played between two Eastern Conference juggernauts, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics. Since then, every team has sprung into action including Canada’s Toronto Raptors.
In light of the NBA season starting, here’s a quick look at the top five teams in the Eastern Conference.
- Boston Celtics
Who else than the reigning Eastern Conference champions to be ranked as the top dog. The Celtics loss in six games of the NBA finals this past June was a heartbreak for all Celtics fans . A team that has grown through the draft and looks to continue their path to an NBA Championship on the backs of Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown. Expect them to be even better this year as they have added versatile guard Malcom Brogdon and veteran forward Danillo Gallinari.
- Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks finished last season 51-31 along with the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers. Superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo just came off his fourth straight season of being named to the “All-NBA First Team” as the best Power forward in the league. If Milwaukee can become a top five defensive team and continue to drive play through Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday, they could win their second championship in just three years.
- Philadelphia 76ers
Centre Joel Embid and the 76ers are looking to improve on their somewhat disappointing season last year losing to the Miami Heat in the second round of the postseason. James Harden is not the player he once was on the Houston Rockets, but after a hard summer training where he lost over 100 pounds, will we see Harden have a comeback season? The 76ers have many other lethal options such as Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle who are good weapons to have when Embiid or Harden’s game goes cold. Maxey is coming off a career year averaging 17.5 points per game, shooting 48.5 per cent and averaging 4.3 assists per game. Look for Maxey to improve on his game as he heads into his third NBA season.
- Toronto Raptors
Canada’s team is coming off of an encouraging season. Now sophomore Scottie Barnes is looking to lead his team after winning rookie of the year in the 2021-22 campaign. Barnes averaged 15.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 3.5 APG, and shot 49.2 per cent in 2021-22. Combine those offensive totals with his ability to lock down the best players in the league last season, Scottie Barnes is only going to get better with each game played. Although Barnes may have stolen the show last season, let’s not forget about first team All-Star Fred Vanvleet and All-star Pascal Siakam, both coming off their best statistical seasons. As the Raptors young core continues to grow this year, look for them to advance to the second round this season.
- Miami Heat
The Heat lost a heartbreaking Eastern Conference Finals series to the 76ers last postseason. Miami’s roster stayed intact over the offseason other than letting go of veteran forward PJ Tucker. Miami fans hope that PG Kyle Lowry, now 36 years of age, has one more all-star like season left. Lowry – who’s season last year was riddled with injuries,is said to be fully healthy coming into the 2022-23 campaign. His All-star counterpart, Jimmy Butler is also coming off an injury riddled campaign where he missed 25 games. However, Butler was outstanding in the playoffs averaging 27.4 PPG and shooting over 50 per cent in 17 games played. If Butler can pick up where he left off in the spring the Miami Heat could be back in the ECF.
The 2022-23 Toronto Raptors season can be watched on Sportsnet and TSN while the rest of the NBA season can be watched on Sportsnet, TSN, RDS and NBA TV.