The East is a big, stinking pile of crap, but it’s our big, stinking pile of crap. Let’s see how things stack up a week into the season.
1. Toronto Raptors | 2-0 (+25.5 point differential)
You can only play who is in front of you, and the Raptors have blown the doors off of who was in front of them with double-digit blowout wins against the Bulls and 76ers without Joel Embiid. I wouldn’t expect them to hold this top spot long, but I’d be stunned if they fall out of the top four at any point this season.
2. Washington Wizards | 2-0 (+4.5 point differential)
The Wizards are not a particularly sexy team after bringing back their core by extending John Wall and signing Otto Porter to a pricy new deal while revamping their bench with the likes of Mike Scott, Tim Frazier and Jodie Meeks, but that consistency helps early in the season. Otto Porter looked great in a win against Detroit. We’ll see if this team can avoid the swoons that have plagued them over the last couple of years.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers | 2-1 (+0.3 point differential)
Listen, it’s not my fault guys. I know they toughed out a win against Boston in the opener, and blew the doors off the Bucks in MIlwaukee. They also get wrecked from start to finish in Orlando, and you gotta drop a couple spots when that happens. Them’s the rules.
4. Milwaukee Bucks | 2-1 (-2.7 point differential)
The Bucks have the Cavs loss hanging over their head, which is a bummer. Not a bummer? Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging a cool 38.3, 9.7 and 5.0 in the first three games of the season.
5. Orlando Magic | 2-1 (+7.7 point differential)
Listen, if the East is gonna be so bad that I have to put the Magic at FIVE, then I don’t want to do these rankings anymore.
6. Boston Celtics | 1-2, (-0.3 point differential)
This team is certainly a bummer since Gordon Hayward’s catastrophic ankle/leg injury, but they’ve quietly competed hard. They nearly sent the opener against Cleveland to overtime, dropped the second half of a back-to-back to the Bucks and then beat the 76ers. They’ve got stuff to figure out, but they’re still certainly a playoff team.
7. Brooklyn Nets | 2-1 (+2.7 point differential)
What the hell are the Nets doing? Don’t they know that this publication has a vested interest in their failure? They’ve had a tissue-paper soft schedule thus far (at Indiana, vs. Orlando, vs Atlanta) but those are exactly the kinds of teams they need to lose to if the Cavaliers are going to get a top three pick.
8. Detroit Pistons | 2-1 (+4.0 point differential)
Y’know, the Pistons are playing pretty well and I still can’t muster up the energy to think about them beyond the end of this sentence.
9. Charlotte Hornets | 1-1 (+3.0 point differential)
The Hornets are boring. Dwight Howard is no longer interesting thematically, and this team has beaten the Hawks and lost to the Pistons. Moving on.
10. Miami Heat | 1-1 (-1.5 point differential)
The Heat are a team that went all-in with a fairly average core this offseason after storming back into playoff contention last year but just falling short. Their start has been really unimpressive thus far, taking a loss against Orlando and just squeaking past the Pacers. We’ll see if Pat Riley is ultimately proven right.
11. Indiana Pacers | 1-2 (-4.3 point differential)
The Pacers are 1-2, but they’ve shown some pluck. They dropped 140 on Brooklyn in the opener (!) before falling to Portland and Miami in their last two. Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner are looking the part for a team that will really struggle to land anywhere near .500.
12. Atlanta Hawks | 1-2 (-8.0 point differential)
The Hawks topped Dallas on the road before getting wrecked by the Hornets and Nets (ugh). They’re going to win some games on Mike Budenholzer’s system alone, and they’re going to lose a lot more on their talent level alone.
13. New York Knicks | 0-2 (-12.5 point differential)
The Knicks got wrecked by OKC in their opener and dropped a close one to Detroit. On the bright side, Kristaps Porzingis is spitting hot fire like Dylon and averaging 32 points and 8.5 boards in his debut season as the lone star in the Big Apple.
14. Philadelphia 76ers | 0-3 (-16.3 point differential)
I guess that 42.5 win total set in Vegas was a little ambitious, eh?
15. Chicago Bulls | 0-2 (-13.5 point differential)
The most noteworthy storyline this team will have this year is one of their power forwards punching their other power forward so hard in the face that his face broke.