During a Blogtable last week, NBA.com writers unanimously choose the Brooklyn Nets to be a better playoff team than the New York Knicks. However, in this week’s Blogtable those same writers picked the Nets for third or fourth place behind the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, and even the Chicago Bulls.
“Sorry Brooklyn, but I’m putting Indiana No. 2,” Jeff Kaplan wrote. “They nearly knocked off Miami in the East finals and every one of their guys (plus coach Frank Vogel) should come back better. Danny Granger is on the comeback trail and I like how Larry Bird beefed up the bench. Again, apologies to the Nets, but I’m going with Derrick Rose and the Bulls next. You know they’re going to bring a monster defensive effort every night and with Rose back, the Bulls will actually score, too.”
That’s pretty much what the thinking was across the board. Only two writers, Scott Howard-Cooper and John Schuhmann, picked the Nets to finish as high as third in the East. Howard-Cooper expects the Bulls to be better while Schuhmann expects Indiana to be better.
While everyone acknowledges that the Nets are seriously improved, based on their comments it sounds like the Nets have too many unanswered questions to be placed atop their lists or even in the No. 2 spot…for now at least. The one thing that did sound pretty unanimous was that it’s going to be a much tougher and tighter conference at the top next season.
“I do think the Pacers, the Bulls and even the Nets all might finish closer to the Heat than the Knicks did in 2012-13 – a 12-game gap in the standings – so yes, it will be a closer race,” Steve Aschburner wrote. “My Nos. 2-4 will be better through maturation (Indiana), returns (Chicago) or additions (Brooklyn), and all of them will beat up on the bottom seven or eight teams in the conference, further padding their records.”
With such a tight race expected it’s going to be exciting. I think Schuhmann said it best when he wrote, “Can the season start now?”