How the East is stacking up

In the mailbag questions, Jeff said this in response to a question about the East:

The problem with the East is that there’s two super contenders and then just a grab bag of teams in the 3-8 range and the Celtics are in that mix (along with the Hawks, Heat, Raptors, Hornets, and whatever version of the Sixers ends up being).

What caught my eye there was the Raptors. Are Raptors considered playoff contenders next season? I live up in Toronto and people are fairly meh about this season. Happy enough about the future, but not expecting too much right now. A nice enough top 7/8 players, and Nick Nurse will have them playing hard for sure, but the rookie Scottie Barnes might be their best player (hyperbole, I know). If not, it's Siakam, who has shown he's not a top level 1st option. No real out and out center. They just lost their heart and soul franchise player. So are they really in the conversation for 3rd seed?

Anyway, that got me thinking about the competition in the east. What are people's thoughts on how competitive it is? I haven't exactly followed every roster move being made on every team, so outside of Celts and Raps, I'm going off quick reads and vague intuitions (you know, the stuff CelticsBlog runs on!), so would like to hear what better informed people than I think. For what it's worth, here's the picture I have in my head.

Pistons, Magic and Cavs don't really stand a snowball's chance in hell of making the playoffs.
Bucks and Nets are the teams to beat.
After them, I have Heat and Celts (both health permitting) and 76ers (depending on what exactly happens with the Simmons debacle).
Knicks will still be a tough team to play, especially if Kemba's health holds up and he fits in a Thibs system, but I think there'll be a bit of reversion for them.
I haven't really bought that the Hawks have made The Leap, especially if the NBA does crack down on foul hunting.
I wouldn't exactly scoff at either of those two teams...but I would consider them more in with the glut of Pacers, Bulls, Hornets, Raptors and Wizards. There's not a lot to choose between them in my eyes, they're all decent to good teams any of which could make some noise and maybe a run in the playoffs, but I wouldn't really be shocked by any of them missing out on the play-in game either.


1-2: Bucks, Nets

3-5: Celts, Heat, 76ers

6-12: Knicks, Hawks, Bulls, Hornets, Pacers, Raptors, Wizards

13-15: Cavs, Magic, Pistons.

Is this based in any kind of reality? And how far behind the West do you think the East is?

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