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The Kings Homer's NBA Preview: Eastern Conference

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Brad and Tony break down the Eastern Conference team by team, and sees how the Kings will do vs. them.

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While I took the West division by division, I am simplifying things for the East because the match-ups mean less, and I don't think you guys are dying for in depth coverage on how the Kings match up with the Brooklyn Nets. So without further to do, here is your Eastern Conference predictions. Tony Xypteras once again joined me to offer his second take on each team.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Guesstimated Record: 60-22

Key Matchup(s)

LeBron James vs. Rudy Gay

Bullet Points:

-Interested to see what a smoother off-season can bring, especially when they are healthy.

-I am interested to see how David Blatt uses Kevin Love this year. I thought Blatt was fine as a first year coach, but definitely needs to work on his in game adjustments.

-In my opinion, the East is once again theirs to lose.

Who Takes the Series?

Brad: Cavs take the series, 2-0

Tony: Cavs take the series, 2-0

Tony's Second Take: The Cavaliers are going to be excellent this season, and as we saw last year, they don't even need to be healthy in order to defeat the rest of the Eastern Conference. They are my pick to win the East again this season, and it would take something catastrophic to change my mind.

Chicago Bulls

Guesstimated Record: 55-27

Key Matchup(s)

DeMarcus Cousins vs. Joakim Noah

Bullet  Points

-Injuries are key here. If healthy, I think they are the only team that has a shot to take down Cleveland in the East

-Taj Gibson probably gets traded early in the season; especially if Doug McDermott is doing as well as people say he is under Fred Hoiberg.

-I am interested to see how Hoiberg coaches this team.

Who Takes the Series?

Brad: Kings split the series, 1-1

Tony: Kings split the series, 1-1

Tony's Second Take: I'm still reeling at the news that Fred Hoiberg is going to start Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic in his frontcourt. It's going to be extremely weird seeing Joakim Noah in a bench role, but he's been one of my favorite Kings trade targets for years, and despite the Kings' new and improved frontcourt, I still wouldn't mind taking a shot at Noah if things in Chicago go south.

Atlanta Hawks

Guesstimated Record: 54-28

Key Matchup(s):

Rudy Gay vs. Paul Milsap

Bullet Points

-I don't see them having quite as much success as they did last year due to the loss of DeMarre Carroll, and the lack of that surprise element, which they had last year. They will still be a fun team with an awesome offense, but I expect a little drop-off.

-I am interested to see what kind of lineup the Kings put against the Hawks with their fast paced style. It may be a game where we see the Kings go small with Rudy at the 4 a lot.

Who Takes the Series?

Brad: Hawks take the series, 2-0

Tony: Kings split the series, 1-1

Tony's Second Take: I'm with Brad. I don't know how the Hawks have as good a season this year as they had last year, but they'll be a top-4 Eastern Conference team anyway. Keep an eye on Dennis Schroder, who said he'd like to explore other teams if he cannot start. I don't think he'd start for the Kings, either, but this organization has been a fan of his for years.

Miami Heat

Guesstimated Record: 51-31

Key Matchup(s): DeMarcus Cousins vs. Hassan Whiteside

Bullet Points

-I see a big jump from the Heat, not because I think they got a lot better in the off season, but because I think that they were a top 4 east squad in talent last year, but never had a chance to show it. With a healthy starting lineup of Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh, and Hassan Whiteside, the key for the Heat besides health will be bench play.

-My distaste for Erik Spoelstra as a coach is one of my worst kept secrets. This year could be big for him when it comes to his long-term stability as a coach. I am interested to see how he responds.

Who Takes the Series?

Brad: Kings split the series, 1-1

Tony: Kings split the series, 1-1

Tony's Second Take: The Heat are going to be a lot of fun, I think! It must be frustrating having to rely on a player like Dwyane Wade. As good as he is, his body is really breaking down. I'm not worried about their regular season, because Bosh, Dragic, and co. should be enough to get this team into the playoffs, and if they can get Wade through the regular season and into the playoffs healthy, they could make some noise.

Washington Wizards

Guesstimated Record: 49-33

Key Matchup(s): Ben McLemore vs. Bradley Beal

Bullet Points:

-I am not sure how to gauge the Wizards this year. On paper, I am not sure if I can dock them too many points for losing Paul Pierce, but come playoffs losing a guy like him can be huge. I think they will win more games than last year if they are healthy, but I do not know if their playoff luck will be any better.

Who Takes the Series?

Brad: Kings take the series, 2-0

Tony: Kings split the series, 1-1

Tony's Second Take: I think this team is still missing something. They'll probably sneak into the playoffs, but I wouldn't expect much out of them after that unless they can make some sort of a trade this season. I'm interested to see what Otto Porter can do in an increased role, but they are really going to miss Paul Pierce.

Toronto Raptors

Guesstimated Record: 47-35

Key Matchup(s)

Kyle Lowrie vs. Rajon Rondo

Bullet Points

-I like the addition of Carroll, but also think that the Raptors lost some depth this off season with Greivis, Amir Johnson, and Lou Williams leaving. They still have some talented players, but I see a drop off for them.

Who Takes the Series?

Brad: Kings split the series, 1-1

Tony: Kings split the series, 1-1

Tony's Second Take: Skinny Kyle Lowry looked great in preseason, and I'll be watching Carroll closely to see how much of his success last season had to do with the system he played in, but I'm having a hard time gaging how good the Raptors will be this season. If Cory Joseph is secretly really good like some NBA pundits have predicted, the Lou Williams and Greivis Vasquez departures may not be an issue.

Milwaukee Bucks

Guesstimated Record: 45-37

Key Matchup(s): Giannis Antetokuonmpo vs. Rudy Gay

Bullet Points

-While I think that the Bucks will be a better squad this year, with their young talent being a year older, I still think they are a couple years away from sneaking to the top tier of the East. Still, I think they will be a fun team, and with the additions of Greg Monroe and Greivis Vasquez, I think that they made a great step in the right direction.

-Giannis is one of the more intriguing younger players in the league, and that should only continue this year. With his ability to play multiple positions, and his freakish athleticism, I look forward to seeing what kind of year he has in him.

Who Takes the Series?

Brad: Kings Split the series, 1-1

Tony: Kings split the series, 1-1

Tony's Second Take: I love the Bucks. If I had to create one of those 'pick five teams' league pass packages, Milwaukee would absolutely make my list. I still don't know how good they are going to be, because all of their most intriguing players are still fairly young, but the East is the East, and a playoff spot seems likely.

Boston Celtics

Guesstimated Record: 41-41

Key Matchup(s): Isaiah Thomas vs. Darren Collison

Bullet Points

-With the addition of Amir Johnson and David Lee, I think the Celtics got a little more veteran depth, but I still question having the best player on your team being the 6th man, and question whether Isaiah will accept that role much longer. Young team with an awesome young coach, but I think they will hover around .500 until they get more experience from their starters.

-I like the addition of David Lee. He is still a very good player, despite his lack of minutes last year. Switching him into the lineup was actually a key turning point for the Warriors and their floor spacing too. I could see his numbers shooting back up this season.

Who Takes the Series?

Brad: Kings take the series, 2-0

Tony: Kings split the series, 1-1

Tony's Second Take: The Celtics might be one of, if not the deepest, teams in the NBA, and Brad Stevens will use all of that depth. The problem is that Boston is deep with 3rd, 4th, and 5th options. They will compete in the East, but until they acquire some top-level talent, I question how far their depth will take them.

Indiana Pacers

Guesstimated Record: 40-42

Key Matchup(s): Paul George vs. Rudy Gay

Bullet Points

-Paul George is obviously the key to this. With him coming back after missing basically the entire season last year, save for a couple games at the end, he is coming back to a stripped down version of the team he had just two years ago.

-The Pacers lost key pieces in Roy Hibbert and David West, who played valuable front court minutes. While I am not a fan of Hibbert's, I am not sure Jordan Hill can fill those shoes.

Who Takes the Series?

Brad: Kings split the series, 1-1

Tony: Kings split the series, 1-1

Tony's Second Take: Paul George had a stretch there where he was approaching that LeBron James, Kevin Durant group of players at the top of the NBA. If he can return to that form, the Pacers will be just fine.

Charlotte Hornets

Guesstimated Record: 35-47

Key Matchup(s)

Spencer Hawes vs. Kings Fans, DeMarcus Cousins vs. Al Jefferson

Bullet Points

-The Hornets actually have some nice building blocks, and with Frank Kaminsky coming in, they should have a fun core.

-Michael Kidd Gilchrist is going to miss a large chunk of the season, which could hurt them a little, but I expect them to be a slightly better team last year, with a little more depth and experience.

Who Takes the Series?

Brad: Kings Split the series, 1-1

Tony: Kings take the series, 2-0

Tony's Second Take: I don't think Charlotte is going to be very good. Between Al Jefferson, and whoever starts with Al Jefferson in the Hornets' frontcourt, they aren't going to be able to stop anyone in the paint.

Orlando Magic

Guesstimated Record: 32-50

Key Matchup(s)

Victor Oladipo vs. Ben McLemore

Bullet Points

-A seven win improvement over last year may be a little high, but I don't think it is out of the picture. With a studly young core of Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Peyton, and the vastly underrated Nikola Vucevic, I think that they could take the leap, especially when you add Mario Hezonja to the roster.

-While Scot Skiles isn't my ideal coach for them, he is certainly a better fit than Jacque Vaughn was, and he has had some success as a coach. I don't think that he is a long term solution, but he should be able to coach this team.

Who Takes the Series?

Brad: Kings take the series, 2-0

Tony: Kings take the series, 2-0

Tony's Second Take: Mario Hezonja!!! #LeaguePassAlert is a tweet you will be reading this season.

Detroit Pistons

Guesstimated Record: 30-52

Key Matchup(s): DeMarcus Cousins vs. Andre Drummond

Bullet Points

-After an up and down year, the Pistons lost a key piece in Greg Monroe. Brandon Jennings had a great year after they cut Josh Smith, but my gut tells me that he will be in another jersey come playoff time. I think this will be a rebuilding year for the team, but Stan Van Gundy is one of the best coaches in the league, so we will see what he has up his sleeves.

Who Takes the Series?

Brad: Kings take the series, 2-0

Tony: Kings take the series, 2-0

Tony's Second Take: I can't see the Pistons being any good with this roster as currently constituted, but as Brad said, Stan Van Gundy is a great coach, and yet, this roster still doesn't feel good enough to make a playoff push in the East.

Brooklyn Nets

Guesstimated Record:

29-53

Key Matchup(s): Brook Lopez vs. DeMarcus Cousins

Bullet Points

-I think this is the year the Nets officially crash and burn. After years of overspending and underperforming, their roster is officially just a baffling arrangement of players. I think guys like Joe Johnson, and even Brook Lopez could be on their way out, as the Nets start anew. I love Prokhorov's style, but he needs to get some better basketball guys in place if he is going to spend like that again.

-All of that said, I do like Lionel Hollins, and hope that he survives if they perform as poorly as I believe they will.

Who Takes the Series?

Brad: Kings split the series, 1-1

Tony: Kings take the series, 2-0

Tony's Second Take: The Kings play the Nets twice this season, so, thankfully, I only have to watch the Nets twice this season.

New York Knicks

Guesstimated Record- 22-60

Key Matchup(s): Carmelo Anthony vs. Rudy Gay

Bullet Points

-The Knicks are a better team on paper, but if you saw last year's roster, that isn't saying a whole lot. I do like Porzingis and Robin Lopez, but the other guys they added, including Derrick Williams, are not going to do a whole lot to further the team. They will be better in the same way that Nickelback is a better band than Creed.

Who Takes the Series?

Brad: Kings take the series, 1-1 (obligatory loss vs. dumpster fire)

Tony: Kings take the series, 2-0

Tony's Second Take: Kristaps Porzingis is going to be a lot of fun, and on paper, Robin Lopez is a nice fit next to him. Jose Calderon knows how to run a basketball team Carmelo Anthony is probably better than people perceive him to be at this point in his career. I don't think this team is going to be horrible.

Philadelphia 76ers

Guesstimated Record: 17-65

Key Matchup(s): Nerlens Noel vs. DeMarcus Cousins, Ben McLemore vs. Nik Stauskas.

Bullet Points

-You've seen this episode. They'll lose a bunch of games, trade one of their young guys, get a high pick, lose a bunch of games, trade one of their young guys, get a high pick, and so on and so forth, all in the name of the almighty "process".

Who Takes the Series?

Brad: Kings take the series, 2-0

Tony: Kings take the series, 2-0

Tony's Second Take: Maybe it's because I've been watching a bad Kings team for the last decade, but something about these young teams that are going to lose 75% of their games this season interest me. The 76ers are going to be bad, but I'll be watching from a distance.