Not that the East was very easy last season but, according to Miami Heat point guard and team sounding board Mario Chalmers, the conference will be tougher in 2013.
“The East is going to be a beast this year,” Chalmers told the Associated Press. “It’s going to be tough competition every night. Brooklyn’s making moves, Indiana just got Luis Scola, Derrick Rose coming back to the Bulls, it’s going to be a tough Eastern Conference this year. At the same time, we’ll still do what we do to try to get that third championship that we want.”
If you think about it, the only major change is that Chicago will get Rose back. The Celtics are no longer a threat but Brooklyn took its place — the subtraction and addition leaves us back at even. If that. Since Doc Rivers, one of the best coaches in the game, left to the West and the Nets are coached by a point guard who couldn’t score in the playoffs (I feel bad for that one — almost — Jason Kidd is historically great. But I kid.)
So the Bulls and the Pacers get better. Just like last season, there are still five good teams in the East when you include Miami, New York and Brooklyn.
So are the Bulls and Pacers a threat to the Heat? Well, the Bulls refuse to get better during the offseason. Maybe they have gotten better from a developmental and continuity standpoint, but we’ve been down this road before.
One can understand the worry presented by the Pacers. After all, it did take the Heat seven games to beat them. But one can also wonder, was that just because the Heat were figuring them out? Do you really think it would take seven games again for the Heat to beat them? I mean, it was the same Pacers team that barely got by the Knicks.
Chalmers’ comments come with a sense of humility. That’s good. I’m not downplaying the East, I’m just not so sure that much has really changed.