Paul George scored 27 points to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 97-87 victory over the Orlando Magic in the first game of the season. The Miami Heat defeated the Chicago Bulls 107-95 in the second game of the evening as the Heat had seven players score in double-figures.
This article will look at each Eastern Conference team’s chances of winning the conference. Every Monday of each week, a new Power Rankings will be unveiled. The power ranking will rank each team 1-15 and have a ranking system between 50 and 100.
91-100: NBA Championship Contender
85-90.9: Conference champion sleeper
73-84.9: Playoff team
66-72.9: Borderline playoff team
50-65.9: Lottery pick
1. Miami Heat (1-0), Rating: 95.2. The two-time reigning NBA champions still have the best player in the game in LeBron James plus his two compadres, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The Heat lost only Mike Miller in the offense and added much needed frontcourt help in Michael Beasley and Greg Oden. They also added a three-point shooter and solid perimeter defender in Roger Mason Jr.
Miami shot 51.4 percent from the floor versus Chicago and had seven players score in double figures, led by James (17 points, eight assists and six rebounds). James was joined in double figures by Bosh (16 points), Shane Battier (14), Mario Chalmers and Wade each finished with 13 points, while Norris Cole and Ray Allen each tallied 11 points.
2. Chicago Bulls (0-1), Rating: 92.8. The Bulls made a bunch of offseason moves but the biggest move was the one they did not have make, all they had to do was wait until Derrick Rose became healthy. Rose was nearly a point-a-minute scorer in his long-awaited return to the exhibition hardwood. The Bulls also have All-Stars Luol Deng and Joakim Noah along with a rejuvenated Carlos Boozer. In addition, Mike Dunleavy was brought in to improve the team’s three-point shooting.
Chicago, led by Boozer, outscored Miami 50-34 in points in the paint and out-rebounded the Heat 41-40. Boozer had 31 points and seven rebounds while Jimmy Butler contributed 20 points. However, Rose struggled in his season debut as he finished with just 12 points, four assists and five turnovers. Noah, limited by a groin injury, scored two points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 20 minutes of action.
3. Indiana Pacers (1-0), Rating 92. 5. The Pacers, who took the Heat to seven games in the Conference finals, added C.J.Watson and Luis Scola to strengthen their bench. Indiana also gets the return of Danny Granger back from knee issues though he will be the first three weeks of the season.
The Pacers, one of the NBA’s top defensive team last year, held Orlando to 38.7 percent from the field and 18 blocked shots. Roy Hibbert led Indiana’s block party with seven swats and 16 rebounds. He also contributed eight points.
4. Brooklyn Nets (0-0) Rating 91.5. The Nets went on a spending spree this offseason and brought in veterans Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry to go along Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. Rookie Mason Plumlee was impressive during the preseason.
5.New York Knicks (0-0) – Rating, 88.0. The Knicks are coming off their first Atlantic Division title season in nearly two decades. However, they won’t have J.R. Smith (suspension) for the first five games of the season and Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin are walking on eggshells in regards to their health. The Knicks only made moderate additions this offseason by obtaining Andrea Bargnani (trade) and Metta World Peace (FA).
6. Washington Wizards (0-0), Rating 78.0. The Wizards recently made a big splash by trading for center Marcin Gortat. While Gortat is a nice addition, the Wizards’ playoff chances hinges on John Wall and the shooting of Bradley Beal.
7. Detroit Pistons (0-0), Rating: 75. 0. The Pistons added some offensive firepower in the offseason by signing free agent Josh Smith from Atlanta and trading for Brandon Jennings, who is recovering from jaw issues.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (0-0),Rating 73.5. Cleveland has Kyrie Irving and added No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett, who suffers from sleep apnea and asthma. If Andrew Bynum can stay reasonably healthy, he could be a key contributor for the Cavs.
9. Toronto Raptors (0-0), 71.0: Toronto and Charlotte are two teams that could make a push to the playoffs but not sure what direction does the Raptors want to go? There are rumors Toronto is interested in dealing DeMar Rozen or Rudy Gay.
10. Milwaukee Bucks (0-0), Rating70.0: The Bucks are small upfront and need John Henson to step up. They do have some nice pieces in O.J. Mayo, Brandon Knight and Caron Butler.
11. Atlanta Hawks (0-0) Rating 68.5. They have a nice frontcourt rotation with Elton Brand, Paul Millsap and Al Horford. The big question is who is going to score?
12. Charlotte Bobcats (0-0), Rating 65.6. If Al Jefferson can stay healthy and the Bobcats hunker down on defense they could challenge for a playoff spot.
13. Boston Celtics (0-0), Rating 63.5: They could be in the mix to battle for the 10th spot in the conference if Rajon Rondo stays with the team the whole year and shows he can be “the man” on a team.
14. Orlando Magic (0-1), Rating 60.5. The Magic have a veteran starting backcourt, Arron Affalo and Jameer Nelson, and several young pieces. The young pieces include Victor Oladipo, who scored 12 points in his debut versus Indiana, and Andrew Nicholson, who tallied 18 points and four caroms against the Pacers on Oct. 29.
15. Philadelphia 76ers (0-0), Rating 55.0. The Sixers are projected to be the worst team in the Association and is definitely looking to the future. Expect Jason Richardson and Spencer Hawes to be moved. Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young could also be moved but it would not be wise for the Sixers future to do so.