Scouting the Eastern Conference


In bracket order

Sixers (3) vs. Miami (6)

Boston (2) vs. Milwaukee (7)

Series format: 2-2-1-1-1

Who’s hot

LeBron James, Cavaliers: His average, 27.5 points, is his highest in eight years. The 33-year-old played 82 games for the first time in his career.

Sixers: Haven't lost since the night the NCAA tournament started. The play-in games, that is. The 16-game winning streak includes 10 in a row at home.

Toronto: Went 34-7 at home, 17-3 in the last 20. Someone's going to have to win at least once at Air Canada Center to knock off the Raptors.

Who’s not

Myles Turner, Pacers: Shooting just 27.3 percent from the field over the last five games and has posted -13, -22 and -27 in three of them.

Washington: The Wiz are 7-14 since Feb. 27.

Boston: What's next on the injury front? The leprechaun developing emphysema from all of those years of Red Auerbach cigars.

If he wanted, LeBron James could have a side gig making posters.
Charles Fox / Staff
If he wanted, LeBron James could have a side gig making posters.

Odds to win …

Conference NBA Title
Cleveland 6-5 8-1
Toronto 3-2 12-1
Sixers 4-1 25-1
Boston 20-1 100-1
Washington 40-1 200-1
Indiana 40-1 200-1
Miami 40-1 200-1
Milwaukee 80-1 300-1

Source: Westgate Superbook, Las Vegas

Check this out: The Sixers opened the season 20-1 to win the conference, 100-1 to win the title.

Points per game

  Avg. NBA Rank
Toronto 111.7 4th
Cleveland 110.9 5th
Sixers  109.8  7th 
Washington 106.6 13th
Milwaukee 106.5 15th
Indiana 105.6 17th
Boston 104.0 20th
Miami 103.4 23rd

Check this out: During their 16-game winning streak, the Sixers are averaging 118.3 points. The average margin of victory has been 14.1.

Opp. Points per game

  Avg. NBA Rank
Boston 100.4 3rd
Miami 102.9 4th
Toronto 103.9 t-6th
Indiana 104.2 9th
Sixers  105.3  11th
Washington 106.0 15th
Milwaukee 106.8 16th
Cleveland 109.9 26th

Check this out: The Sixers lead the NBA in opponents' field goal percentage (43.4). Miami, their first-round opponent, is seventh.

Assists per game

  Avg. NBA Rank
Sixers 27.1 2nd
Washington 25.2 4th
Toronto 24.3 6th
Cleveland 23.4 12th
Milwaukee 23.2 14th
Miami 22.7 17th
Boston 22.5 20th
Indiana 22.2 23rd

Check this out: Ben Simmons (8.6 per game) is third in assists among players on Eastern Conference playoff teams. Only John Wall (9.6) and LeBron James (9.1) average more. Russell Westbrook (10.3) led the NBA.

Rookie Ben Simmons is often a magician passing the ball. Shame that nickname already is taken.
Yong Kim / Staff
Rookie Ben Simmons is often a magician passing the ball. Shame that nickname already is taken.

Scoring leaders

The top 10 regular-season scorers expected to play in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Joel Embiid is included. Kyrie Irving is not.

Player GP Pts. Notable
LeBron James, Cle 82 27.5 Has won the last seven East championships
G. Antetokounmpo, Mil. 75 26.9 Next step is to win a playoff series
Victor Oladipo, Ind. 75 23.1 Entered year with 15.9 career avg.
DeMar DeRozan, Tor. 80 23.0 Down from 27.3, but team is better
Joel Embiid, Sixers 63 22.9 Played 94 games, missed 234 since drafted
Bradley Beal, Was. 82 22.6 Career low 37.5 pct. from three
Khris Middleton, Mil. 82 20.1 Former D-Leaguer; signed for $70 mil in 2015
John Wall, Was. 41 19.4 A top-5 point guard when healthy
Eric Bledsoe, Mil. 74 17.7 Acquired from Phoenix in November
Kevin Love, Cle. 59 17.6 Hit 41.5 from three, his best in seven years

Check this out: Seven of the top 10 scorers for playoff teams play in the West (James Harden, 30.4; Anthony Davis, 28.1; Damian Lillard, 26.9; Steph Curry, 26.4; Kevin Durant, 26.4; Russell Westbrook, 25.4; LaMarcus Aldridge, 23.1).

Standings since Dec. 29

Among East playoff teams

  W-L Pct. GB
Sixers  37-11 .771 — 
Toronto 36-13 .735 1.5
Indiana 29-18 .617 7.5
Boston 26-17 .605 8.5
Cleveland 26-21 .553 10.5
Miami 26-22 .542 11
Milwaukee 26-23 .531 11.5
Washington 24-23 .511 12.5

Check this out: The Sixers lost at Portland on Dec. 28 to fall to 15-19, the last time they were four games under .500.

He said it

"Toronto's having a heck of a year, Boston and everything they're doing with a lot of injuries themselves. And I think some of the teams in the middle of the pack are interesting. But until somebody beats whatever team LeBron's playing for, it always feels like the team that he's playing for is the team to beat in the East."

— Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer