Last year the Cleveland Cavaliers overcame a 3-1 deficit in the finals to become NBA champions. In the off-season, they managed to bring almost everyone back. Now they’re expected to be the best team in the east again. Let’s take a look at the three teams with the best chance of beating the reigning champions.

 

3 – Chicago Bulls

jimmy-butler-a-435The Bulls had one of the more interesting off-seasons when they signed future hall of famer Dwyane Wade. This was a questionable move after trading away point guard Derrick Rose, but the Bulls seemed to be committed to rebuilding. Now they are back in playoff contention and have a shot at a top 4 seed. The big question is whether or not Wade can continue to play well through another 82-game NBA season.  He has had issues with injuries in the past, but if he stays healthy I believe the Bulls will be a threat to the Cavs in the playoffs.

2 – Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks have been a playoff team for awhile now under coach Bud. Their main problem has always been the lack of a star who can propel them into title contention. If they want to beat the Cavs then they need Dwight Howard to become the leader for this team.

The other big question for the Hawks is new starting point guard Dennis Schroder. Schroder has come off the bench for the Hawks his whole career but after the departure of Jeff Teague, Dennis finally has the chance to start. If the Hawks are going to win the east then they will need Schroder and Howard to play well together for the length of the season.

1 – Toronto Raptors

The Raptors took the Cavs to six games in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. In the off-season, they lost fan favorite Bismack Biyombo, but they signed Celtics big man Jared Sullinger who has a wide range of offensive capabilities. The biggest reason to expect improvement is because of DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas. The two of them have started off incredibly hot with DeMar leading the league in scoring with 33.7 points per game and Jonas averaging a double-double. If the two of them can keep it up then the Raptors will be title contenders.

 

The Cavaliers are not an easy team to beat and they won’t be as long as they have LeBron, but these three teams definitely stand out above the rest of the east as contenders.