washingtonpost.com  > Sports > Leagues and Sports > NBA

Eastern Conference

In Order of Predicted Finish

Tuesday, November 2, 2004; Page D06


Miami Heat

2003-04: 42-40, 2nd in Atlantic Division.

Coach: Stan Van Gundy (42-40, .512).

_____NBA Basics_____
Team Index
NBA Schedules
NBA Section

Key addition: 7-1 C Shaquille O'Neal (21.5 ppg).

Key losses: F Lamar Odom (trade), F Brian Grant (trade).

They'll make the playoffs if: AmericanAirlines Arena doesn't sink into Biscayne Bay. Prospects skyrocket with O'Neal's overpowering inside game. Downside is that he draws defenders to the paint, which may clog the lane for guard Dwyane Wade, who likes to penetrate.

What realignment means to them: O'Neal makes Miami a sure bet for the division title and a major threat to be playing deep into June.

Orlando Magic

2003-04: 21-61, 8th in Atlantic Division.

Coach: Johnny Davis (42-111, .275).

Key additions: 6-3 G Steve Francis (16.6 ppg), 6-4 G Cuttino Mobley (15.8 ppg), 6-11 F Dwight Howard (rookie).

Key losses: G Tracy McGrady (trade), F Juwan Howard (trade).

They'll make the playoffs if: The influx of talent meshes. Rebuilt team is a lock to improve on last year's league-worst record. Francis and Mobley, transplanted from Houston, instantly become one of East's best backcourts. Health of Grant Hill (remember him?) is something to monitor.

What realignment means to them: A healthy Hill could mean the Magic will press the Heat in the Southeast.

Atlanta Hawks

2003-04: 28-54, 7th in Central Division.

Coach: Mike Woodson (first season).

Key additions: 6-9 F Al Harrington (13.3 ppg), 6-9 F Antoine Walker (14 ppg).

Key losses: G Jason Terry (trade), F Alan Henderson (trade), G Stephen Jackson (trade).

They'll make the playoffs if: Woodson works a miracle and the Hawks forge a solid inside-outside attack with Harrington in the post and Walker from the perimeter. Next on the shopping list should be someone who plays defense.

CONTINUED    1 2 3 4 5    Next >

© 2004 The Washington Post Company