May 22, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) stands at the free throw line as Indiana Pacers huddle at center court during game 5 of the 2012 NBA eastern conference semi-finals at the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Eastern Conference Contenders

In the Eastern Conference, it’s Miami and everyone else.  The gap between that team and the other teams is a big one, but hopefully some team can step up and spoil another run to the Finals for the Heat.

Here are some choices I think can contend in the Eastern Conference.

Indiana Pacers

They bring back their starting lineup from the end of the season that actually had a 2-1 in the second round of the playoffs.  They added some new pieces to the bench, which could be the reason their season sinks or swims.   The Pacers might be asking their starters to play longer minutes because of the unstable nature of the bench.  The Pacers can get off to a great start like last season and hopefully not meet the Heat until the Eastern Conference Finals, where they could put it together to take down the superstar team.

Boston Celtics

Here’s a team that loses one of their major pieces in Ray Allen, but they still have Rajon Rondo, who looked to personally take down the Heat last year.  They have another year with Kevin Garnett, who came up huge during the playoffs and should have that in him this season.  They still have Paul Pierce, who can turn it on from time to time.  They bring in Jason Terry, who is a veteran, but has some fire under him that could help out.  They’ve got some young guys who will have to step up, but I think they could give the Heat all they can handle.

Philadelphia 76ers

The trade that brings Andrew Bynum in helps this team immensely.  He’s a guy that can be big once he gets going.  It’s going to take someone to get his head straight, but look at Philly last season getting to the playoffs without some big star like Bynum.  He has to make this team better.

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