The 2015/16 NBA season runs from October 27 to April 13th with the annual All-Star Game being held at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada on Valentine’s Day February 14th. This is the NBA’s 70th campaign and the league’s playoffs will get underway on April 16 with the Golden State Warriors hoping to defend their league title. This preview predicts where each team will finish in their respective conference this season.
2014/15 record: 53-29 second in East
The Cleveland Cavaliers fell to the Golden State Warriors in six games in the NBA Finals last season and should be back for another run this year. Mo Williams was added at point guard and his 38 per cent shooting accuracy from the three-point range will be a welcome addition. Richard Jefferson was also added to an already powerful offense which was fourth-best in the leaguer last term with 107.7 points for every 100 possessions. With Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James in the lineup fans should expect to see the Cavaliers take first spot in the East and make it all the way to the Finals once again. It’s also quite possible Cleveland takes the crown for the first time in 51 years.
2014/15 record: 60-22 first in East
The Hawks had their best season ever last year and posted 60 wins for a franchise record. They made it to the Conference Finals, but were swept in four straight by Cleveland. Atlanta will feel the loss of DeMarre Carroll as he was excellent in three-pointers with a 39.5 per cent success rate. He won’t be easy to replace, but the Hawks still have a strong squad. The team led their conference in total assists and three-point shots last season and Tiago Splitter has been brought in at center and should help with the side’s rebounding which was one of its major weaknesses last year. The Hawks ranked 30th in rebounding offensively and 22nd defensively. They may slip a little from last year, but should still finish as high as second.
2014/15 record: 50-32 third in East
The Bulls had a fine 2014/15 season, but were then derailed in the second round of the playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games. The Bulls have a new head coach in Fred Hoiberg and he’ll be attempting to find a fine balance between defense and offense. The Bulls were ranked in the top-10 defensively for the fifth straight season last year, but the offense could do with a bit more speed as it was ranked number 21 when it came to pace. However, Hoiberg needs to work his magic sooner rather than later since the Bulls are the sixth-oldest squad in the league with an average age of 30.1. Look for them to take third place in the East.
2014/15 record: 37-45 10th in East
The Miami Heat missed the playoffs last season, but are expected to bounce back in a big way this year. The team suffered injuries in 2014/15, but has the potential to field an explosive offense this campaign. Head coach Erik Spoelstra will have his work cut out for him by trying to improve the defense, which ranked 19th last year.
You can see more in our December 2015 issue of ModelsMania