For the past few years there has been a clear talent discrepancy between the East and the West in the NBA. With LeBron James joining the Lakers, it got even worse this offseason.
The west is filled with great teams and phenomenal competition. Every single playoff spot should be a tight race, and there are going to be good teams that will miss out on the playoffs.
Meanwhile, you probably do not even need to be above .500 to get the last playoff spot in the east, and there may not even be three teams in the East that can clearly say they are better than any of the top eight in the West.
The NBA knows that it is going to be a lot more difficult to keep the fans interested in the East, especially since we are in a spot where the Boston Celtics could run away with the top seed if they find their same regular season success, with all the extra talent this year.
What the East does have going for them are solid young cores. The Celtics are in such a good spot largely because of their young talent. Then you have teams like the Bucks an the Pacers who are looking to grow into a team that can sustain success because of great talent that is growing together.
The Raptors can also bring some interest, but it will not last more than one year, and who knows how the Kawhi Leonard situation is going to play out this season.
When you are thinking about the future growth of this conference, and finding something in the East that can be as competitive and interesting as the top teams in the West, the NBA is clearly banking on the Celtics 76ers rivalry being revitalized.
These are clearly the two most hyped teams in the conference right now. Everyone is confident that they both have generational talent, and are in a position to compete for a long time. These teams have a history and they got things started with a playoff series last year.
Keep in mind, we still have to wait and see if we get a another layer to the rivalry with Jayson Tatum and Markelle Fultz. The two of them will inevitably be tied throughout their careers because of Boston’s decision to trade down for Tatum.
We have seen what Tatum can do, and now it is on Fultz proving that he will bounce back from an obstacle filled rookie season. The problem, however, is that Tatum set an initial standard that he may never be able to match.
With the Celtics playing the 76ers to open the season and on Christmas day, the NBA is emphasizing how important it is for these two teams to be competitive. Right now, however, that is a major risk for the NBA.
When you have a young core with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, it is easy be optimistic. Unfortunately, after a bust of an offseason in free agency, the 76ers may not give the Celtics the kind of competition the NBA needs to continue putting them on that stage.
Both of these teams have the young players that can grow and bring these teams to the next level, but the Celtics are a finished product at the same time, while the 76ers are still figuring it out.
Who knows if the Celtics are going to be as good as everyone is expecting, and who knows how much better the 76ers are going to get. With the information we have right now, however, the 76ers are still too far behind the Celtics in too many ways to expect them to revitalize the Eastern Conference.
This can still be a great rivalry that brings a lot of excitement to the East. If, however, it if as lopsided as last year’s playoff series suggests it will be, it will be at least a few more years before this is the rivalry the NBA needs it to be.