In the East, the Celtics are the overwhelming favorites. Which other groups pose the greatest risks?

From least likely to most likely to defeat Boston, these are the power rankings.


I think everyone can agree that the Celtics are the clear favorites in the Eastern Conference, with the possible exception of a few naive 76ers supporters.


Naturally, that does not ensure a trip to the NBA Finals, but as of right now, it is rather evident that Boston has the best chance of representing the East.

That being said, it’s quite unlikely that getting there will be simple. Although the East doesn’t have as many strong teams as the West does, the Celtics can still be challenged by a number of teams. Which ones pose a real risk? Which ones pose less of a risk?


Here’s one view, ranking them from least to most likely to defeat the Celtics (remember, I don’t think anyone in the East is defeating them this year).


Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets, and Chicago Bulls are all worthy mentions. These teams aren’t performing at all. Not even Kelly Olynyk’s Raptors, no. I apologize, Kelly.


The Hawks are talented enough to at least be discussed, even if it is extremely doubtful that they would defeat the Celtics in a seven-game series.


They can win any game when they have Trae Young in the lineup. They can now lose any game because of it as well. Young is a burden on defense in addition to being a weapon on offense. Throughout the series, Atlanta would not be able to muster enough stops.


7) The Magic of Orlando


One of the best narratives of the season is the one about the Magic, who are on the rise. Orlando has a genuinely strong core, so I wouldn’t be shocked if they advanced to the Conference Finals in the following five years.


However, that won’t happen this year. You can forget about Orlando’s four-game winning streak in head-to-head matches if the Magic and Celtics play each other in the opening round. The Celtics have won two games in a row in the series with confidence after realizing they can’t afford to get complacent about the Magic. Orlando could make it to the fifth or sixth game, but they lack the experience and firepower to truly defeat Boston.

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