With the playoffs set to start tomorrow, below are one of each team’s strengths and weaknesses in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Cleveland Cavaliers (57-25)
Strength: Health has to be Cleveland’s biggest strength right now. Last year, Cleveland saw both Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving get injured and miss key games. Now, they are both healthy and ready for the postseason. LeBron also always steps it up in the playoffs and this team is ready to make another deep postseason run.
Weakness: The Cavaliers have been turning the ball over a lot lately. While this will likely be fixed considering LeBron will have the ball in his hands, they finished the year on a sloppy note. They must clean this up if they want to make a deep run.
Toronto Raptors (56-26)
Strength: Toronto boosts one of the best starting backcourts in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Each are capable of scoring at will and are an integral part of the team’s success.
Weakness: With DeMarre Carroll still working his way back from injury, the team may struggle shutting down an elite forward such as Paul George or LeBron James. Team defense will be necessary if the Raptors want to make a deep run.
Miami Heat (48-34)
Strength: While the loss of Chris Bosh is critical, Hassan Whiteside has had a great second half. After averaging 12.2 points and 11.0 rebounds per game before the All-Star break, Whiteside has averaged 17.5 points and 13.3 rebounds per game after. Having a strong big man will prove crucial, especially in comparison to the rest of the East.
Weakness: Miami likes the pace of play to be slow, especially with the team’s age, and therefore playing a faster game could ruin the team’s offensive chemistry. Dwayne Wade is best in isolation on a set play and therefore a faster paced game will hurt Miami’s chances.
Atlanta Hawks (48-34)
Strength: Since December 1st, Atlanta is the most efficient defensive team in the league allowing 97.8 points per 100 possessions. This is extremely efficient and allows them to compete with any other team.
Weakness: Atlanta has no star player. As we saw last season in their series against Cleveland, they struggled to create offense when they really needed it. Come playoff time, a star is needed, and while Atlanta is balanced, they do not have one.
Boston Celtics (48-34)
Strength: The Celtics are going to out-hustle you. Everybody on their team plays very gritty and people have chosen Boston as a dark horse playoff team. They play great defense and now have the offense to compliment their aggressive defense. Isaiah Thomas is having a breakout year and can score at will, something the Celtics did not have last year.
Weakness: Outside of Thomas, nobody on Boston is an offensive threat. When he leaves the game, their offense is comparable to Los Angeles and Philadelphia. If Thomas is ineffective, Boston will lose.
Charlotte Hornets (48-34)
Strength: The Hornets have plenty of shooters this season in Courtney Lee, Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams. They have more shooters than Miami and if they get hot have a good chance to advance.
Weakness: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is already out for the year, and Batum was recently injured in the last week of the season with an ankle problem. If he isn’t healthy, Charlotte will be very thin at the forward position and will struggle, especially since Batum is one of their best players.
Indiana Pacers (45-37)
Strength: Paul George is the obvious candidate here. George has the playoff experience to guide this Indiana team as well as the talent himself. Few can contain him and he should have a big series against Toronto.
Weakness: Indiana has no real scoring threat on their front line. Myles Turner has been a good player in his first year but is not ready to be a primary threat yet.
Detroit Pistons (44-38)
Strength: Andre Drummond has been great all year and will need to be even better in the postseason. Cleveland does not have a dominant interior big, giving Detroit an advantage inside.
Weakness: The Pistons are middle of the pack in both offensive (14th) and defensive (15th) efficiency. They will need to improve drastically if they are to beat Cleveland in the first round.