With injuries to Bradley Beal, Jimmy Butler, and Derrick Rose its safe to say the Eastern Conference is pretty banged up at the moment. In two short weeks the highly favored Chicago Bulls have fell from playoff hopefuls to playoffs hopefully. With the downfall of the Bulls and struggles of a once promising Wizards team, are the Cleveland Cavaliers the clear-cut favorite to reach the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals? The Sports Unbiased NBA staff weigh-in with their opinions.
Jeb Taylor: Even before the losses suffered by the Bulls and Wizards, the Cavaliers were the favorites to win the East. Now, their chances look even greater. While the rest of the East is struggling, the Cavs are thriving. LeBron is starting to steamroll the competition, and role players like Mozgov, Thompson, and JR Smith make this team versatile and deep. It is very, very difficult to ever bet against the King. Cleveland will win the East, and potentially the NBA Championship, in the 2015 season.
Keith Rivas: Despite popular belief that the Cavaliers will have an easy road to an Eastern Conference title, I believe still that the odds are not in their favor. The Bulls are expected to have Derrick Rose back in time for the playoffs to start and the Wizards showed us last year that despite any sort of circumstances they aren’t afraid of anybody and will battle it out — by any means.
The Cavaliers lacked serious communication and chemistry; that was something that was overwhelmingly evident at the beginning of this season. When the playoffs come around and crunch time strikes, the Cavaliers will fall apart again under the pressure.
Why? — Because the Bulls and Wizards have already dealt with the spotlight.
Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and even JR Smith — major pieces to the Cavs’ puzzle — have no experience whatsoever in big moments like LeBron James has had. And from the looks of it, LeBron is still trying to figure out how to best get along with his teammates and coach.
Chemistry 1, Cavaliers 0.
Bobby Bourhis: Even without the injury hit that the Bulls have taken over the last couple of weeks, the Cleveland Cavaliers should still be considered the favorites to win the Eastern Conference Title. The additions of Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith, and Iman Shumpert have fortified their roster for the playoffs. Now, with LeBron James playing at an MVP level, the biggest competition they have in the Eastern Conference is the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks have turned some heads this season, with their strong starting lineup that included four all-stars. However, come playoff time, it is hard to bet against LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. The one advantage that the Hawks have over Cleveland, is their ability to shoot threes with Kyle Korver leading the league in 3-point percentage.
Unless Chicago comes back full strength with Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson before the playoffs start, then expect to see an Eastern Conference Playoff match up between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Atlanta Hawks.
Steve Turner: The Washington Wizards and the Chicago Bulls have been going through multiple injuries. Chicago has lost former MVP Derrick Rose due to a torn meniscus and Jimmy Butler to an elbow injury. Jimmy Butler is expected to be back in 3-6 weeks and Rose will hopefully be healthy for the playoffs. If the Bulls want to take the Eastern Conference, they have to hope All-Star Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose are 100% for the playoffs. The Washington Wizards have been having a phenomenal season but they have also been going through several injuries. Bradley Beal, Paul Pierce and Nene are all coming off of injuries. Bradley Beal is a primary scoring option for the Wizards. If they want to advance to the Finals, the Wizards really need Beal to come alive and score. Washington needs Nene to be healthy as well.
The team that has the best chances of taking the Eastern Conference is the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland is playing amazing basketball and their chemistry gets better with each game they play. Despite a minor shoulder injury, Kyrie Irving should be 100% come playoff time. Kevin Love is dominating the boards, averaging 10.2 rebounds per game. LeBron James, who is the league’s 3rd top scorer, has proved what he can do in the playoffs. The Cavs have other scoring options between J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Kevin Love and Timofey Mozgov. If the Cavs can stay healthy for the playoffs, it’s going to be really hard to beat this team.