Out East there's far more delineation between the different tiers. In fact, I'll go on record as saying I'll be shocked if it's not Orlando and Cleveland facing off in the Eastern Conference Finals. As such the bulk of the analysis will be on those two teams. Nonetheless here's my ranking of Eastern Conference teams chances to make it to the Finals. As always numbers in parentheses are the difference in points per game and the difference in offensive and defensive efficiency . All other numbers are completely made up.
No Chance (less than 1%)
9. Chicago Bulls (-2.0 PPG, -2.6 Diff)
Given all of the Bulls injuries I'm not sure of their ceiling of course I'm not sure if they'll be healthy this year. Rose has guaranteed the playoffs so we'll see if they can make it.
8. Toronto (-1.8 PPG, -1.9 Diff)
The only thing you need to know about Toronto is they are Phoenix but worse defensively and don't have Steve Nash.
7. Milwaukee (+1.6 PPG, 0.8 Diff)
The Bucks had made great progress but one of the most disgusting injuries ever (youtube Andrew Bogut if you have a strong stomach) will mean the Bucks have no chance come playoff time.
6. Charlotte (+1.5 PPG, +1.1 Diff)
Charlotte has a great defense (statistically best in the league) but are mediocre at best offense and they turn over the ball too much
5. Miami (+2.2 PPG, +3.2 Diff)
No team with Dwayne Wade should be completely written off but the Heat don't rebound (offensively or defensively) well, have a negative turnover rate, and foul a lot.
4. Boston (+4.0, PPG, +4.9 Diff)
Boston is 29th in the league in rebounding, they turn the ball over a lot, and are average shooters. That's short hand for their defense is good enough to compensate for their bad offense.
3. Atlanta (+4.7 PPG, +4.6 Diff)
Atlanta is good solid team. However they have one victory against Orlando/Cleveland in the last 2 years mainly as they can't stop Dwight Howard or Lebron James. Which I guess is a big deal.
1b. Cleveland (+7.1 PPG, + 8.3 Diff)
Good - For those that haven't watched the Cavs this year they have become an offensive juggernaut by some measurements they are the best in the league at offensive efficiency. They have Lebron - who statistically if having the best year of anyone since Jordan. They also are second best in the league at stopping offensive rebounding and second best at opponent field goal percentage.
Bad - They can have bad turnover games and as they don't cause turnovers get into trouble. They are last in the league in FT%. They are terrible at defending opponent's point guard (ahem Mo Williams)
Uncertain - Center Position. The Cavs got into huge trouble last year against Orlando as they couldn't stop Dwight Howard and couldn't stop Pick N Rolls. They are counting on Shaq (who has been out with an injury for 6 weeks) and Z (who was out for 4 weeks due to trade) to slow Howard down.
1a. Orlando (+6.9 PPG, +8.8 Diff)
Good - Overall they have a defense built for the playoffs. They are tops in the league at opponent FG% and tops at stopping offensive rebounding. They have by far made more 3 pointers than any other team in the league (781 with the next closest Phoenix at 681). Matt Barnes has filled the wing player defender that they missed last year and consequently might be their second best player.
Bad - Orlando doesn't cause many turnovers and they are actually a poor offensive rebounding team. Rashard Lewis has been awful.
Uncertain - Vince Carter. I'm still uncertain how Orlando has a good defense despite playing Carter...but they do. I'm uncertain how Carter will do in the playoffs. History tells us he's bad . During most of the year he followed that script by hoisting up bad shots for bad percentages instead of working within the system. HOWEVER over the last 2 months Carter is shooting nearly 50% from the field. So umm what about Carter?
The stats show Orlando as slightly more efficient (specifically on the defensive side) than Cavs although the Cavs are a better offensive team (and hence a better PPG differential). By most measures Orlando has overcome the lack of Turkglu by becoming a better defensive team (specifically with the addition of Barnes). However the Cavs are far better suited to face Orlando this year with the additions of Jamison and Shaq. I'm still sorting out who I think will win between the two but don't be fooled ....these are the two best teams in the league and they are far closer than their records suggest.