ATHLETIC VOICE: East vs. West, the power struggle

By RENE ESCOBAR

As 16 former All-Star players have moved organizations, an imbalance of power is in flux within the NBA in the new season.

The Eastern conference of the NBA possessed promising intrigue at the start of the season, but that potential train has derailed.

On opening night, the Boston Celtics were at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Celtics had come poised for a championship season. However, it was not to be. Making his debut for the Celtics, All-Star forward Gordon Hayward suffered a dislocated ankle and broken tibia, effectively ending his season.

Another team that has high hopes of being a threat to the reigning conference champion Cavaliers are the Brooklyn Nets, who have been reimagined with an injection of talented youth through years of past drafts and free agency.

One player’s name that popped out on the Nets aquisition list was former All-Star point guard Jeremy Lin, who landed awkwardly, tearing his patella tendon in his right knee. According to ESPN, Lin was yelling in pain, “I’m done, I’m done.”

Lin called it as he saw it, and indeed he is done for the season.

Even the conference champions have been bitten by the injury bug. Take former MVP Derrick Rose, who was acquired in the offseason via free agency,will miss the first month of the season with a sprained ankle.

With major injuries littered in the East, the Cavaliers have an opportunity to jump to the head of the field. With future Hall-of-Famer Lebron James leading the way, the Cavs are always in the championship mix.

It appears, however, the breakout year is here for the Washington Wizards. With a so-far healthy year and acquisitions that were chosen to surround the Wizards’ star point guard John Wall, the team is primed to make a run for the Finals.

The monsters of the West still rule the league with six teams in the Top 10 of ESPN’s basketball power index.

Reigning world champion Golden State Warriors kept their core intact with the same starting five as last year.

The Oklahoma City Thunder made the biggest reboot in the off season. The team signed 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony via trade and four-time All-Star Paul George from free agency to play with MVP Russel Westbrook.

Not to be outdone, the Houston Rockets made headlines by acquiring point guard Chris Paul in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers. Adding to an offense that loves to run the court, Paul brings that push to the front court.

And as always, the consistency of the San Antonio Spurs is in the mix. On a 20-season playoff appearance streak, the Spurs are always in the mix with a Hall of Fame coach on the bench and two Hall-of-Famers on the court.

Both of those franchises lead and develop contending teams year after year.

The Western conference remains the bully of the NBA, and national TV networks flock to the Western teams. Sports writers and analyst talk more about the West than the East.

Although the buzz around the West is well deserved, in the past four of five years, the Western conference champion has had home-court advantage by winning the most games.

The West also has two of the three highest team win totals in a season in NBA history.

The domination will continue for years to come as some of the NBA’s biggest stars have expressed interest into moving West. Some of those stars include Lebron James and Paul George.

The Western conference will be a dominating force this season and many more to come.

RENE ESCOBAR

Filed Under: BasketballSports

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