Better Conference: East or West?

Eastern Conference

Bulls have best record in back to back seasons. Reigning MVP and probably the first back to back Coach of the Year in history with the best bench in basketball. Rip Hamilton may be the difference maker they needed last postseason.

Heat are the favorite to win it all and they have the 3rd best record at the moment. They big three made it to the finals and lost, but have added some pieces. LeBron James is most likely the MVP and Dwyane Wade is the closer, but Chris Bosh and his scoring are the key.

Pacers have the 5th best record in basketball. They’ve been playing very well under the radar, and David West is looking healthier. Indiana is a physical and fundamental team.

Boston is still a tough with those veterans and the best defensive backcourt. This may be the big three’s last run together, and Doc Rivers is one of the better coaches that will have this team competing.

Atlanta is athletic and playing good basketball without all-star Al Horford, who is expected to return in the postseason. Josh Smith and Joe Johnson have been consistent, perhaps a healthy Kirk Hinrich provides a spark off the bench.

Magic are a threat with Dwight Howard. Obviously not this year since he’s opting for surgery. They can hit 3-pointers and are very unselfish, but not many teams can win without their best player.

Knicks are better than their low seed, and probably a top 10 team. Amare Stoudemire is back and Tyson Chandler will be in uniform come postseason. Jeremy Lin might even come back if they advance past the first round.

Philly is elite defensively and on rebounds, they were neck and neck with Indiana at #3 before falling to 8. They are a perimeter team with a lot of scoring options. If they had a go-to guy at the end of games they would be a 3rd or 4th seed.

Western Conference

San Antonio currently has the best record in the West, it would be 2 years in a row if they finish with the top seed. They got bounced out the playoffs in 2nd round last year against Memphis, but have added key role players and Greg Popovich is a Coach of the Year candidate.

Thunder are having a good season. They have the highest scoring duo in the league and the leading shot blocker. Not a fan of Coach Scott Brooks, but they have the supporting cast to contend.

Lakers have history but got swept in the second round last year against Dallas. They have Kobe Bryant and 2 all-star big men, and they might have discovered a bench. I like their chances better with the coach they had before Mike Brown.

Clippers are still growing and exciting to watch. They found a leader in Chris Paul, but the role players need to chip in more offensively. They certainly won’t out-coach opponents, but their youth and athleticism gives other teams trouble.

Grizzlies are the dark horse, but they missed “it” last year. Maybe “it” is a healthy Rudy Gay. Last postseason they beat the top-seeded Spurs and took OKC to 7 games, and this month they’ve defeated several playoff teams.

Nuggets I can’t say are contenders, but they have the talent and youth to make you play start to finish. This team is well-coached and Ty Lawson is blossoming into a leader.

Mavericks are the reigning champions but have obviously lost key contributors in J.J. Barea and Tyson Chandler. Roddy Beaubois and Vince Carter are giving this team productive minutes while Jason Kidd and Jason Terry have gotten some rest.

Utah is known for their physical play and front line. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are the bigs, and Devin Harris is the man that needs to step his game up for them to have any chance. This team hustles and will scrap until the final buzzer.

Perspective

The East is pretty clear cut with a slew of stars and their series will be very physical because of elite defense and rebounding. Most people have Miami and Chicago clashing to see who reaches the finals, but if injuries were to detour them, New York and Indiana would be tough to beat in a series for anyone.

The West will be higher scoring and more exciting to watch, it’s more wide open in terms of who can make the finals. There are a lot of question marks at the top of the Western Conference, aside from health. Will Tim Duncan hold up? Can Russell Westbrook continue to carry a scoring load? Is Andrew Bynum going to show up every game?

To me, the East is the stronger conference and the West is for the taking, but keep in mind, they play different styles of basketball. For the record, the last 3 champions reside in the West: Lakers twice, then the Mavericks last year.