NBA: Ranking the top 5 Eastern Conference contenders

NBA Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NBA Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) /

As the NBA regular season comes to a close, one thing has become clear – the Eastern Conference is the superior conference. The West has true contenders in the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors, but the East has a deeper pool of talent.

As the Eastern Conference standings begin to tighten up, four teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Miami, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Boston currently hold the four top spots in the standings, all within one game of each other.

Beyond that, Brooklyn is still laying in the shadows, poised to make a run from the play-in tournament, with star point Kyrie Irving now allowed to play in home games. None of the top four teams want to face them in the first round, but one of them will likely have to, assuming they earn their playoff spot in the play-in.

It’s difficult to consider the Nets a real contender, as they currently only sit four games above .500 (39-35), in danger of falling to the ninth or tenth seed before the season’s end. However, with the talent of Irving and Kevin Durant, it would be foolish to count them out, especially considering the latter almost carried his team to an Eastern Conference Finals berth last year.

All of these teams have their own strengths and weaknesses, so let’s rank them based on the likelihood of them representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA finals.