8. Indiana Pacers (8th seed)
The only playoff team with a losing record this season, the Pacers are facing a huge uphill battle when they face the Chicago Bulls in the first round. Indiana went 1-3 against the Bulls in the regular season and have yet to find an answer to Derrick Rose. Rose has averaged 27.0 points, 6.5 assists and 5.8 rebounds this season against the Pacers so stopping him will be the only shot Indiana has of advancing past round one.
7. Philadelphia 76ers (7th seed)
The 76ers are as hungry a team as you will find in the postseason, but as luck of the draw would have it, they get to face a geeked up Heat in the first round. Despite their enthusiasm, the 76ers are entering the postseason on a rough note, losing 4 of their past 6 games. They are showing signs of ineffectiveness in key areas, such as rebounding and overall defense, and against Miami, those things will get you booted fast from the playoffs.
6. Atlanta Hawks (5th seed)
The Hawks are the wild card in this years playoff because you just don't know what to expect from them. They are a talented team with proven players and when they play hard, they can beat anybody. Unfortunately, they don't always play hard and with a losing record since the All-Star break, it's difficult to say how much of a factor come playoff time this team will be.
5. New York Knicks (6th seed)
The Knicks are a talented yet incomplete team that is as dangerous a first round matchup as any top seed could face. Armed with arguably 2 of the top 10 players in the league, the Knicks have the star power to upset Boston in round one. Unfortunately, beyond Stoudemire and Anthony is a bunch of young, unproven players who don't have playoff experience to draw upon. The Knicks will go as far as the role players will take them, which will probably be only round one.
4. Miami Heat (2nd seed)
Does anyone else find it ironic that LeBron James left a number one seed in the East the past two seasons to end up the second seed in Miami? Well, that aside, it's put up or shut up time for the Heat as the postseason is here. All their talk of multiple rings begins with the tip-off of game 1 and the Heat better produce if they don't want to hear a backlash of criticism. Unfortunately for them, their lack of depth and size will severely hamper them in a seven game series and with their lack of success during the regular season against the best teams in the league, it doesn't look good for Miami to win a 'ring for the king'.
3. Orlando Magic (4th seed)
Size matters in the NBA and skilled size will win you championships. The Magic has that in Dwight Howard and that's the reason I'm putting the Magic above the Heat in these rankings. With an inside presence like Howard, the Magic are going to be very tough to beat in a 7 game series no matter who they play. Like the Bulls and Rose, the Magic will go only as far as Howard takes them. Their title chances depends on Howard staying focused and aggressive despite his issues with fouls.
2. Chicago Bulls (1st seed)
The Bulls are the hottest thing in the NBA this season. They are a very deep and talented team that are a little lacking on the experience side. Led by the more than likely league MVP, Derrick Rose, the Bulls are a dangerous team that will go as far as Rose can lead them. As their primary scorer and ball handler, Rose is key for the Bulls title chances. If he has a bad postseason then Chicago won't make it out of round two.
1. Boston Celtics (3rd seed)
Though Boston is the Easts third seed, they are the most dangerous team heading into the playoffs. They field a team with 4 Hall of Fame locks and another potential one in Rajon Rondo and just know how to get it done in the playoffs. Experience is key this time of year and the Celtics have that in spades, as they are easily the oldest team in this postseason. The only potential downfall for Boston is that their bigs are very frail, leaving them in the unenviable position of hoping that the injury bug doesn't rear its ugly head.