NBA Eastern Conference Contenders – 2022 Tip-Off

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Who Wins In The Eastern Conference – NBA 2022?

Matthew Bassin: All right. NBA season is starting up, so it’s time to talk basketball. Hockey sweaters off. Got an old one. Do you see the Reebok logo on there? It’s an old Laker, Kobe Bryant eight jersey. Cause the NBA season is kicking off in two nights, Ryan. And it’s a whole different landscape. We got a whole different ballgame to get ready for. We got new play players on new teams. The Nets are the drama field nets. We’re going to get a chance to finally see what they can do if they can actually put Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons on the team.

John Wall is playing basketball again for the Los Angeles Clippers. Rudy Gobert joining Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota. Donovan Mitchell going out to Cleveland. It’s a whole new ballgame this year—Ryan’s new teams with some big names on him. 

Ryan Griffin: Yeah, there are some big names, obviously some big names coming back. You mentioned John Wall. Now we get Kawhi Leonard and Paul George playing basketball again. 

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He is Zion Williamson back again for the pelicans. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, all those guys being back in full force, it’s just going to be exciting, really, for the NBA and for a league that I think this year is probably more wide open than it’s been in years past.

Matthew Bassin: So you saying the Pistons got a chance? 

Ryan Griffin: Not that wide open.

Matthew Bassin: no, definitely not that wide open. But it’s open, but we know who we should be looking at; we should start with the easel. Start in our conference. We know that in our division as Milwaukee’s too.

The Bucks brought back nearly their entire roster. 16 of the 20 players in training camp were on the team last year. They added Joe Ingles, who’s coming from a major surgery recovery from a torn ACL. He is 35 years old, but that man brings some toughness, size, and experience, and he can shoot the basketball, and he is on one of those proven deals, one year, six and a half million dollars, to try and give Giannis a little bit of help.

Cause we saw we saw how dangerous they were, even with Khris Middleton, out of the lineup against the Boston Celtics in the semifinals of the Eastern Conference. They were still very, plenty dangerous. You must get Giannis a little help, and healthy Joe Ingels can help.

Ryan Griffin: He is, but I don’t know that he’s healthy right now. And Khris Middleton just announced he’ll also miss the first couple of weeks of the season. As far as the bucks go, obviously, you still have Giannis, you still have Drew Holiday you’re going to be fine, right? Not having these guys isn’t the end of the world.

And then, of course, you still have Bobby Portis. You still have Brook Lopez. So the buck should be fine, and at the end of the year, they might be the team that is still the best in the East. I think Giannis is. The best player in the world. I know the Celtics beat the Bucks last year in the playoffs, but I thought Giannis still played amazingly in that series.

So like every game, it seemed like Giannis was out there putting up. Forty points and the team just couldn’t get it done for him. But as far as he, as far as him as an individual goes, he’s still amazing. He will probably be in the thick of the MVP race all year unless he gets injured.

But I think the bucks are certainly in a position to return to the NBA finals. They’re a very good team. Of course, they’re going to be very good in the East. But yeah, to start the season, looking again a little rough, right? So the Bucks’ GM, Jon Horst, said that Ingles is probably looking at a return sometime in January, so the bucks aren’t going to have.

It’s obviously through Christmas. It’s like the first big NBA marker. And then it sounds like they’ll get them back, sometimes maybe a couple of weeks before the All-Star break. But not having Ingles and not having Middleton will put some more pressure on Giannis, I think, to not have a couple of those wing guys be scores.

But then you’re just going to be looking at other guys to step up. I already mentioned Drew Holiday, but Grayson Allen and Jordan Nwora are somebody that I think they rely on more heavily this year than they did last year. So I’m not so worried about the Bucks piecing it together, but they might. They’ll certainly be a better team at the end of the year than they will start it. 

Matthew Bassin: I would guess which is what you want. Health issues in October are not health issues. Health issues in. Those are health issues. So got plenty of time to get everyone back in a healthy and cohesive unit before the playoffs come rolling around in May. Definitely, the right time to be dealing with this. The aforementioned Boston Celtics, who, with Milwaukee, went up against in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The big news originally in the off-season, Ryan, was the trade for Malcolm Brogden, former rookie of the year, bringing in 19.6, assists someone to really boost an offense that we had discussed so much in the playoffs and especially the NBA finals of just not having a ball handler. And you got great talent, but none of them are really that good at being the point guard, handling the rock, and really taking control and running the.

That’s what Malcolm Brogdon was bringing to the table. Ime Udoka apparently wanted to one-up that news and cause his news out there, which caused a lot more drama. He is not coaching the team and probably will never coach the team again. They’re saying that this is, it’ll, they’ll deal with that later.

But Joe Mazzulla is going to be taken over. And they have a pretty good core as well—also, a couple of health issues. Robert Williams will be out following knee surgery in the first couple of months. I guess Danilo Gallinari is out for the entire season because of an ACL injury in early September.

So he’s not even going to be joining the Celtics unless maybe the postseason, but they’re saying it’s not even that. But so, what do you think about the Celtics’ chances of repeating at representing the Eastern Conference in the final? 

Ryan Griffin: I don’t like them as much as I did before all of the Maka stuff. But we talked about the gal signing and the Brogdon trade when they happened. And the Celtics just seemed like they had a really strong ten-man roster, like top 10. It was depth, and everybody could have probably started on at least one other team in the NBA, and it was really solid.

Obviously, now they lost Gallinari, and they lost their head coach. Yeah, less, definitely less. Less thrilled about it than I was, even what, two months ago or whenever we first talked about it. And then, it just came out that they would let Grant Williams hit restricted free agency.

They weren’t going to offer him a contract extension quite yet. So he’s going to play this year on the last year of his deal, hit restricted free agency, and then the Celtics can decide if they want to match whatever offer they might give him. But who knows how that messes with team chemistry? We saw the Warriors punch each other in the face for it, and Grant Williams, now he’s going to have to play, maybe thinking that the team doesn’t necessarily believe in them.

So I think there are a couple of weird dynamics with the Celtics. And even if I didn’t think they were going to be the best team in the east, even after all these moves, I thought it was like, I thought their run to the finals was a little fluky, and I just thought okay, they’re not going to be there next year.

And then they made the moves in the off-season, and I was like, Oh, they might be there next year. This is a really good team. And then the OCA stuff happened. Gallinari goes down. Gallinari went down first, but the OCA stuff happens. And now the Grant Williams contract thing. So I’m less bullish on the Celtics than I was when it looked like their off-season was coming up. All roses. 

Matthew Bassin: Look, as a grown-up, bad boy, and Showtime fan, I want nothing but the demise of the. But Grant Williams a nice puzzle piece. Not exactly an absolute must-have. So I understand the Celtics’ point on that. And if I’m Grant Williams, I’m sorry, but I’m not feeling any type of way. You aren’t that important. You are replaceable. You are a good player, but you are replaceable. 

Ryan Griffin: But he hits seven threes and, like, game seven of the Eastern conference finals. 

Matthew Bassin: I understand. He, every once in a while, shows out there are other guys. You can get that every once in a while. Show out as well. I’m just saying, but bringing in Malcolm Brogdon that’s where I want to see the team chemistry.

Because now you’re essentially telling Marcus Smart to go to the bench. because your point position has been replaced by someone who actually can play the point guard position the way it’s designed to be played. And not kill them by shooting too much on shots you think you can make but don’t make as often as you can’t.

He’s got a little bit too much Westbrook in him where he thinks he can do everything, and it’s, and that’s not actually the case. But I’m all for the demise of the Celtics. I just think there’s too much talent on this team for it to be a full-on demise. I think we’re still going to be seeing them, at the very least, in the Eastern Conference semifinals, if not the Eastern Conference finals.

They got a lot of talented guys that are only going to get better in terms it should only get better in terms of Tatum and Brown. And now they have a couple of better pieces, specifically Malcolm Brogdon. 

Ryan Griffin: Yeah, I think Brogdon’s a big pickup, and Brogdon is a really good player, and the Celtics are going to bring him off the bench, so he is not going to start, but I would bet, my bottom dollar that he’s finishing games for the Celtics, which is really what matters.

Matthew Bassin: All right, let’s see Next on the list. They are another team that went deep in the playoffs but not as deep as they would’ve liked. The Philadelphia 76ers. They added some toughness in PJ Tucker. You also got De’Anthony Melton and Daniel House in the off-season. And you’ve got a leader who wants to win in Joel Embiid not just for himself, an MVP, but a championship trophy for the city of Philadelphia.

And you got James Harden. We’ll see what ends up happening as far as what he’s bringing to the table this year. But he looks like he’s slimmed down. It looks like he’s more focused. I haven’t heard any stories about him at a strip club, so it looks like he might be ready to go for this season to get Philadelphia where they haven’t been and haven’t won, at least since 1983, haven’t been since 2001. 

Ryan Griffin: Yeah, this might be the year for the six and being. They are the best pick-and-roll combination in the NBA. And then, obviously, you add Montrezl Harrell still has Tobias Harris, and Tyrese Maxey, who it seems like he should take another big step. And then a really underrated acquisition.

De’Anthony Melton to come in and play a backup guard for the Celtics s really good. And he will be an awesome addition to the Sixers‘ steam, which can also bring, like, Shake Milton off the bench. And then, Matisse Thybulle again. PJ Tucker, like you, just mentioned. So I do like what this Philadelphia team can be both offensively and defensively.

It’s just about staying healthy for a guy like Joel Embiid and then staying focused for a guy like James Harden. And while you can never predict health, I do think Harden is probably more focused than he’s been since, I don’t know, one of his first few years in Houston.

Matthew Bassin: Yeah. And he’s got a guy that’s going to be Joel Embiid, isn’t going to miss words. He’s not going to be nice to James Harden if James Harden isn’t doing the things that MB thinks hard and should be. As a former MVP, he needs that trophy to solidify his legacy in the NBA. At least in my mind.

I’ve never thought that highly of him. You know this, you love him. We’ve had this back and forth. I think the man is just the exact all the bad things about what the NBA has been as far as getting into the free throw line and nothing else. But the NBA isn’t going to mince words, and if you’re not doing things the way he thinks you should, he will be on you.

And so, I think Harden will be putting in his best effort this year. I’m excited about this for PJ Tucker, and that man’s shoe game is second to none. Philadelphia should appreciate that the hell out of that because they’ve also been known for it. 

And his three-point shooting, you almost have to do a double take when you look, and you’re like, wait, PJ Tucker hit 41% of his threes last year. He’s a 37% shooter in general from deep. Yeah, PJ Tucker’s that good from the outside, and they’re definitely going to love that in Philadelphia. 

Ryan Griffin: Yeah, PJ Tucker’s really good. And the Philadelphia team that, they struggled with shooting in the past, and they’ve done things to try and, put the bandaid over it, but it just never seemed like it worked.

Obviously, they had brought in JJ Redick, Seth Curry spent some time there, and they just, for whatever reason, still struggled shooting the ball. As a team, obviously, they had Ben Simmons mats isn’t a very good shooter. And B likes to shoot him, but he’s not all that good at him.

So surrounding, just surrounding those guys. With shooters, whether it is, again, I need somebody like to buy his Harris, who might not be great, but if you leave him open, he can hurt you. PJ Tucker, obviously, and then some of the other guys that we mentioned, De’Anthony Melton as well, of course, James Harden, and an excellent shooter.

So I think this version of Philly will be different than any of the versions of Philly we saw in the past. 

Matthew Bassin: And Philly’s gain is Miami‘s lost PJ Tucker leaving the Miami Heat, and Miami was trying to make all sorts of moves in the off-season trying to land to Durant, trying to land.

Donovan Mitchell didn’t happen. So they gave Tyler Herro a four-year, $130 million extension instead. But now you’re looking at a Jimmy Butler LED team that needs the pieces they already have. Two balls out. And one of those big pieces was Kyle Lowry, who didn’t look his best, and obviously was coming off an injury last year.

Apparently is coming to camp in much better shape this season. And Miami they go with Jimmy Butler and Jimmy Butler. I don’t know if anyone on the court wants to win more, especially in the postseason, than Jimmy Butler, and they have a squad. I just don’t know if it’s a good enough squad to win the NBA title, Ryan.

Ryan Griffin: No, certainly not. And maybe don’t listen to me. I’m somebody who always just doubts the heat. Because I look at the team, and I’m like, Yeah, like that’s not going to go the way they want it to go. But then they’re in the finals, or they’re in the Eastern Conference. So maybe just tell me to shut up and think what you want about the heat, and then you’ll probably be right.

But it’s tough to evaluate him even during the regular season because Jimmy Butler is one of these guys who he’s better during the playoffs than he is in the regular season. And you look at his regular season numbers, and not that they’re bad, but just compared to some of the other like big stars in the NBA, it’s oh, that’s just whatever, Like it’s an all-star, but it’s not, all NBA or anything like that.

And then they get to the postseason, and then it seems like he, he turns it up another, but it’s a team that they’re returning, obviously most of their guys from last year. You got Jimmy Butler’s bag, Bam Adebayo. Tyler Herro, Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Victor OladipoMax Strus. So the Heat will be fine just from having that core back together, right?

They’re going to be a team that is good in the regular season. I don’t think they’re going to be the number one seed. Good, but we know they’re going to play good defense. We know they will have their nights where they’re also really good at shooting the ball. But I don’t know that we’re going to get a whole lot different than what we got last year from the heat where I think they were what maybe the three seed in the east last year.

And that’s probably where we’ll see them again. Then, he is a little bit better, so maybe they fall to four or five, but I don’t think the. . I don’t know. I just don’t really think that the heat is a threat to winning the title. But they’re also not just like some easy out in the playoffs. 

Matthew Bassin: No, definitely not. And that’s they made the Eastern Conference finals for a reason. But yeah, Jimmy Butler is just, it’s just so strange. You go from someone who averages 22 points a game to suddenly he is averaging 37 a game in the playoffs. I’ve never seen a player that just absolutely turns it on in the postseason, like nothing you’ve seen.

But those players we talk about are a Victor Oladipo depot. He’s healthy all season. This is, the man knows one of the better players in the NBA when he was at his best. And so you bring that to the table with what he can do. If Lowry is a hundred percent healthy this year, you know what he can do at the position.

He can be very dangerous as well. They have star players. I just don’t know if it will be enough in the east this year to be the team representing the east for the NBA finals, but obviously, that is why they played the game. 

Ryan Griffin: Yeah, the heat was the one seat last year, so I called them the three. I was way off. Congratulations Miami. I don’t think it’ll happen again, but it is again. They just proved me right.

Matthew Bassin: Yeah, they were the one, Philly was the four in Boston, and Milwaukee was the two three, 

Ryan Griffin: Yeah. Even when the Heat does something, and I’m like, Nah, they’re not going to do that. And it turns out there, So maybe I’ll just be wrong on the Heat forever. But yeah, it was the Heat. Boston, Milwaukee, and Philly were 1, 2, 3, 4.

Matthew Bassin: All right. One of those teams that were not one of those 1, 2, 3, 4, and got absolutely lambasted and kicked out the post he’s in very quick, quick, and un unceremoniously the Brooklyn. This organization has just been a dumpster fire since signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and they decided to add gasoline to the dumpster fire by adding Ben Simmons to the mix.

But there is a chance that we’re actually going to see Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons on the court together for the first time. If that does happen and they all stay healthy. Ryan, how high is the Brooklyn net ceiling? 

Ryan Griffin: It’s sky-high. They can win a title with these three guys, not just them, but the guys they have around them.

If you look at the Nets roster, it’s incredibly deep, like it’s. They have really good players all, all around, right? They obviously have Durant, Kyrie, and Ben Simmons, but then you’re looking at Steph Curry, Joe Harris, Patty Mills, and Roy O’Neal. TJ Warren, like these, are all guys who can put the ball in the bucket, right?

And then you had Nick Clayton. Obviously, the Nets are going to be weak at the center. Last year we saw them try to patch things, whether it’s like Andre Drummond bringing in Blake Griffin or Lamar Sore. They don’t have anybody like that this year. I mean, you do have Marquis Morris, but again, that’s not like a true center, right?

So it seems like the Nets will have a lot of guys that they will play. And while it might not be as deep one to 10 as the Celtics were, that we were talking about, or at least I guess where when they had Gallinari, and the Celtics still might be deeper, it’s going to be important for the nets to play all these different guys just to.

Their players are healthy. Kyrie Irving obviously sat out last year, not for injury reasons, but because of the injury. He’s sat out games before. Ben Simmons has sat out games before, of course, because of the injury, and so is Kevin Duran. He is getting TJ Warren, Roy O’Neil, Patty Mills, Steph Curry, and extended plane time.

Even guys we didn’t mention know Cam Thomas. Who is somebody that the Net’s, even though he might not even be in the top eight or nine of the rotation? Getting those guys playing time will help preserve the lifespan you would hope of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons so that they don’t have to put so much stress and strain on them.

I’m interested to see how some of these teams will play it at the beginning of the season because we’re going to get to the west later in the week. But Steve Kerr came out and said, Our guys aren’t conditioned enough to go 30 minutes right away, so he’s not going to play the stars.

Steph’s not playing 30 Draymond Klay. And it’s insane because you had all this time to condition. But I wonder, it’s not even something I was thinking about. We know NBA players set out games, and the NBA has tried to do things to stop that. They tried to take out the back-to-backs, not having teams play five games weekly.

Having some less kind of turnaround time if you’re going to play a team, just going to, might play them back to back, right? Home, and then that’s it. But I like it, so I didn’t think teams were going to do this, but the Warriors might not be the only ones that do this so that it could go. We’ll see if it works and rest some of these guys.

But the key for really all of these teams. But I think that, in particular, when you look at their big three, it will just be health because all of these guys have been huge question marks in that department for many of their careers. Even Kevin Durant had some foot issues in Oklahoma City, and then obviously towards ACL in the finals. 

Matthew Bassin: or Achilles. Yeah, there have been huge health issues, huge egos, and those causing issues. It’d be nice to see if we can get this trio of talent on the floor along with everyone else you mentioned because they have a decent roster set. Not name those three guys.

And if those three can join them, I agree with you that this is a team that must be dealt with. Or they’re going to deal with everybody and roll their way to an NBA championship. But we will have to save the Western Conference, Dark Horses, MVP, Coach of the Year, and all that stuff for the next show because we went way too long talking about the Spartans and Wolverines, the Red Wings, and obviously, now the NBA season.

So I want to thank you guys for kicking it with Griffin and Bass, and we will be back in a few days to get rid and get ready for the Western Conference as well as for the Lions’ upcoming against the Dallas Cowboys and as Ryan always gets ready for Wangs for the children. For Ryan Griffin, I’m Matt Basson.

Thank you, guys, for talking with Griffin and Bass. We’ll see you guys later in the week base on protecting Nick.

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