They are the NBA champions until otherwise noted, so let us begin with the Boston Celtics as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
- Charley Rosen division previews:
East: Southeast | Atlantic | Central
West: Northwest | Pacific | Southwest
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- Galinsky: Preseason power rankings
- Kahn: My top 50 NBA players
- Hill: Disasters waiting to happen
- Rosen: Where each coach stands
- Kahn: Blazers pull a jail break
- Kahn: Nuggets have problems at top
- Rosen: Answering your NBA questions
- Kahn: Hornets can't rest on laurels
- Kahn: T-Mac needs to hold the whine
- Rosen: 30 teams, 30 questions
- Kahn: Top 10 PGs | SGs | SFs | PFs | Cs
Bleacher Report previews
- Southwest Division | Spurs
- Northwest Division | Trail Blazers
- Pacific Division | Lakers
- Central Division | Bulls
- Southeast Division | Hawks
- Atlantic Division | Celtics
Marques Johnson video previews
- East: Central | Atlantic | Southeast
- West: Southwest | Northwest | Pacific
Conventional wisdom says the Hawks will ride the crest of taking the Celtics to seven games in the first round back to the playoffs. With Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, maturing Marvin Williams and Al Horford, plus a training camp with Mike Bibby, they should get there. Let's see if the two-year extension signed by coach Mike Woodson helps them gain consistency.
9. Washington Wizards
Despite making the playoffs in each of the past four seasons, plus everyone returning for underrated coach Eddie Jordan, it's hard to be sold on this injury-prone group. Who knows about Gilbert Arenas' thrice-repaired left knee, Brendan Haywood's wrist, Antawn Jamison's right knee and anything else? They're always injured, and that includes their incumbent tough guy Caron Butler. All things being equal, they're in. Then again, all things are never equal.
10. Miami Heat
It's hard to fathom a team with Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion and top draft choice Michael Beasley not being in the playoffs, but rookie coach Eric Spoelstra will have his work cut out for him. Will Pat Riley deal Marion? More pressing is the health of Wade, who has missed 31 games in each of the past two seasons. He also missed 21 his rookie year. The acrobatics are killing his body.
11. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks are the sleeper in the bunch. Skiles always get his teams to overachieve his first year or two, and with the addition of Richard Jefferson and Luke Ridnour to Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut, they are certainly playoff contenders. Rookie Joe Alexander may help and GM John Hammond did plug in veteran depth. But the talent pool is still fragile on this club.
12. Indiana Pacers
Like the Bucks, the Pacers have the capability of slipping into the playoffs, with the underrated Danny Granger, Mike Dunleavy Jr. coming off his best NBA season, and Troy Murphy healthy and productive. But they lack power players and athleticism to go along with the running of T.J. Ford, Jarrett Jack and rookie Brandon Rush. Just who are they with coach Jim O'Brien?
13. New Jersey Nets
By mid-season it was apparent that president Rod Thorn was ready to rebuild again, so he dumped Jason Kidd and hopes Devin Harris can develop into the Eastern Conference version of Tony Parker. They are very young, and he'd also love to get rid of Vince Carter for some young talent. They'll finish higher than this, but it's just difficult to figure out where they'll fit in.
14. New York Knicks
It's almost impossible to get a handle on these mismatched players, bloated contracts and new coach in Mike D'Antoni. Foremost among the problems is Stephon Marbury, who stands out like a raspberry on the roster. If Donnie Walsh can somehow unload him and D'Antoni gets this wacky bunch to buy in, they could cause damage to somebody besides themselves for a change.
15. Charlotte Bobcats
Larry Brown is back, presumably for the last time as an NBA coach. L.B. in North Carolina with absentee president Michael Jordan make for strange bedfellows, not to mention this young team with little or no fan base. There is talent with Emeka Okafor, Ray Felton, Gerald Wallace and Sean May, but this is a bad franchise and that's too much to overcome in a balanced East.