It looks like the Cavaliers are the new force in the Eastern Conference this season after LeBron James returned to Cleveland last week. It looks like the Cavs aren’t done this off-season, with rumors swirling that they are going after Minnesota’s want-away power forward Kevin Love. The big man would be a great fit in Cleveland and they’d likely be heavy favorites to win it all this season with his help. The storylines will be plentiful for many reasons, including a few opponents that stick out as ones to circle on the calendar when the NBA schedule comes out next month.
The Heat are going to have to move on with LeBron James this season, but they’ve brought back the rest of the big names on the team and added one more. Luol Deng will take LeBron’s spot in the lineup after signing as a free agent, and he’s a solid player — albeit one with impossibly-sized shoes to fill. His 16 points and 5.7 rebounds per game are small in comparison to Lebron’s 27 points and 6.4 rebounds. LeBron will gain the support of the Cleveland fans back pretty quickly, but how will be greeted in Miami? The Heat and Cavs could be the two best teams in the weak Eastern Conference.
San Antonio Spurs
The reigning champions have returned every player from a team that demolished the Heat in the NBA finals, and will be a force once again. You keep thinking they’ll be too old, they’ll keep on winning championships. If the Cavs pull off the trade for Love, this could be a very even match up — outside of coaching. Gregg Popovich has proven himself the best in the business, and he’ll have his Spurs ready for LeBron on the Cavs, like he did in the 2007 NBA Finals when San Antonio swept Cleveland.
This is another possible Eastern Conference Finals match up, and the Pacers might feel this is finally their time to shine. Roy Hibbert played at his worst at a critical time and Indiana allowed the Heat into a fourth straight finals appearance, but the Pacers are a much younger team and will stay at a top level. The Cavs will be a young team outside of LeBron, and this Indiana vs. Cleveland matchup might be the one to watch for in the upcoming 3-4 years. Other teams like the Thunder, Lakers and Rockets could prove to have some great games against the retooled Cavs, but grabbing a ticket to any of the three matchups listed above would guarantee you some top-level, competitive basketball.