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.
23 de abril 2019
|Guardiola rejects Solskjaer claims over City fouls|
|Deportivo Alaves 0 Barcelona 2: Alena and Suarez put champions-elect on brink of title|
|Rams pick up Goff´s fifth-year option|
|Hamburg 1 RB Leipzig 3: Poulsen and Forsberg fire visitors into DFB-Pokal final|
|Watford 1 Southampton 1: Gray cancels out Long´s record-breaking strike|
|Tottenham 1 Brighton and Hove Albion 0: Eriksen´s late stunner gives Spurs control in top-four battl|
|Long, King and the Premier League´s fastest goalscorers|
|Playing alongside Ronaldo is a pleasure, says Dybala|
|Watson ends drought as Super Kings go top|
|Southampton´s Long scores Premier League´s fastest goal|
|Seahawks reportedly send Frank Clark to Chiefs|
|AFC Champions League Review: Giovinco strike earns 10-man Al-Hilal win|
|Messi benched for Deportivo Alaves v Barcelona|
|Alexander-Arnold happy to support United in Manchester derby|
|Hudson-Odoi to have surgery on ruptured Achilles tendon|
|NFL Draft 2019 Big Board: Murray & Bosa the top prospects|
|ATP to decide on Gimelstob future following sentencing|
|F1 Raceweek: Ferrari looking to kick-start season with SF90 updates in Baku|
|Gattuso rejects surprise Newcastle links|
|Leeds United´s Alioski to miss remainder of Championship season|
|Injured Anderson to miss clay-court season|
|Manchester City star De Bruyne out of derby as Guardiola urges caution|
|I perfectly understand his position – Guardiola supports under-fire Solskjaer|
|Emery urges Arsenal to retain belief in top-four race|
|Mahrez is going nowhere - Guardiola|
|Simeone delighted ´extraordinary´ Oblak has signed new Atletico deal|
|O´Sullivan ´struggled to stay awake´ in Crucible upset|
|O´Sullivan stunned by amateur Cahill in another early exit|
|Wolfsburg confirm Glasner as new head coach|
|Suns fire coach Kokoskov after one season|
|Iniesta named new Vissel Kobe captain|
|Retiring too early would haunt me forever - Khan|
|Burnley laugh off ´anti-football´ jibes|
|Solskjaer convinced he can turn Manchester United´s slump around|
|Halep withdraws from Stuttgart Open with hip injury|
|They will snap at your ankles and kick you - Solskjaer mindful of Man City tactics|
|Sterling says racism ´runs deep´ in football & calls for radical changes|
|Defending Favors ´draining´ for Rockets – Harden|
|Mitchell thanks Jazz team-mates after flashing Game 4 warning at Rockets|
|Former Celtic captain and manager McNeill dies aged 79|
|Zaha´s desire to leave Palace understandable – Dann|
|General manager Gould to leave Panthers|
|Jovic set for greatness amid Barca and Madrid links – Milosevic|
|Rays bounce back with win over Royals|
|Bucks´ progress an ´unbelievable journey´, says Giannis|
|Bucks complete sweep of Pistons, Jazz hold off Rockets|
|From Australia to Yokohama: Postecoglou wants to leave mark on Japanese football|
|Fowler ´can´t see´ Man United denying City|
|Fowler confirmed as Brisbane Roar coach|
|Miller doesn´t deserve to be in the ring – Joshua|
|Dyche dismisses ´anti-football´ accusations|
|First time in my life – Milner supporting United in Manchester derby|
|Cowboys´ Cooper describes relationship with Prescott|
|Zola suggests Chelsea to report Burnley after Sarri was allegedly ´offended´|
|Nets´ Dudley doubles down on Simmons comments|
|Hudson-Odoi says his season is over with ruptured Achilles tendon|
|Arthur backs Pakistan to mount World Cup challenge|
|David Luiz accuses Burnley of playing ´anti-football´|
22 de abril 2019
|Pogba blasts Manchester United for ´disrespectful´ performance in Everton humbling|
|NFL Draft 2019: Five sleeper prospects|
|NFL Draft 2019: Five potential first-round surprises|
|Chelsea 2 Burnley 2: Kante injured as Sarri´s men waste chance to go third|
|Kante off injured ahead of crucial period for Chelsea|
|Ruthless Saints thrash Hull FC, Warrington thump Rovers|
|Pant sends Capitals top despite Rahane hundred|
|AFC Champions League Review: Xavi stars in last-gasp Al Sadd victory|
|Brentford 2 Leeds United 0: Automatic promotion hopes hanging by a thread for Bielsa|
|Verdasco edges ahead of old rival Lopez in Barcelona, Mayer books Nadal date|
|Martic rallies to oust Zidansek in Istanbul|
|Heavyweight Ali pays the Price for bite|