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Top 5 teams in the East: Finding the right spot for the Wizards

Top 5 teams in the East: Finding the right spot for the Wizards

The 2017-18 NBA schedule was released on Monday and with Eastern Conference odds being released on Tuesday, it's now time to project where teams will finish and rank the best teams in the East.

After falling one game short of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Wizards are determined to break through and solidify themselves as one of the top two teams in the East.

The offseason contract extensions of Otto Porter and John Wall have only strengthened the team's bond and desire to bring a championship back to Washington, D.C.

But as the regular season approaches, where do the Wizards rank among the top teams in the East? On Tuesday, CSN's Rob Carlin and Chris Miller ranked their list of the top five teams in the east.

RELATED: TEN "CAN'T MISS" GAMES ON THE WIZARDS SCHEDULE

Here's what they both went with as of Aug. 15. You can watch their analysis in the video player above.

Rob Carlin's Top 5 Teams in the East:
5. 76ers
4. Wizards
3. Bucks
2. Celtics
1. Cavaliers

Chris Miller's Top 5 Teams in the East:
5. Bucks
4. Raptors
3. Cavaliers
2. Celtics
1. Wizards

RELATED: WIZARDS' 2017-18 SCHEDULE BY THE NUMBERS

It's easy to look at the 76ers roster and think this team is the future. The 76ers just might be "the future," but the team's "Big 3" of Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons have played exactly zero games together and injury concerns have already stunted the growth of both Simmons and Embiid. 

That's why the Toronto Raptors, with DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, should be in the No. 5 spot here.

Speaking of "teams of the future," the Milwaukee Bucks are the closest thing the NBA has to "The MonStars." Giannis Antetokounmpo is a fringe MVP candidate and the team has at least seven players with a wingspan of at least seven feet. But You need superstar players to carry a team, and Antetokounmpo is close, but not there yet. The Bucks should be in the No 4 spot here.

It's great to think that the Washington Wizards will be the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference. It's what every basketball fan in Washington, D.C. is hoping for. But until LeBron James has been unseated, it's hard — nearly impossible — to put any team above the Cavaliers. Perhaps a healthy Ian Mahinmi will make a big difference up front, a place the team needs help. But that is a big question mark. The bench is big question mark too. The team's "Big 3" of Wall, Porter and Bradley Beal can only do so much. The Wizards are going to be good — really good, hopefully — but as of now, it's hard to put them above the No. 3 spot

The Wizards came up just short of the Eastern Conference Finals, falling to the Boston Celtics in seven games. The Celtics got a bit better this offseason,a dding all-star forward Gordon Hayward. Brad Stevens is widely considered one of the best coaches in the entire NBA, and if Isiah Thomas returns to form following a playoff hip injury, the Celtics should be locked in to the No. 2 spot in the East, which both Chris Miller and Rob Carlin agree with here.

Who knows if Kyrie Irving will be with the Cleveland Cavaliers by the time the playoffs roll around. And while LeBron James may not be in a Cavs uniform in 2018, he's going to be in uniform this season. And until a team is able to unseat the Cavaliers — the back-to-back-to-back Eastern Conference champions — you just have to put LeBron & co. in the No. 1 spot.

But that's whats fun about August. It's the silly season. It's all speculation. The Wizards very well could be the best team in the East. They brought the band back together and are trending in the right direction. There's no reason to believe they can't finish in the top two spots and potentially be the best team in the East.

By the time the new year gets here and the playoffs come into focus, we will finally know who is right and who is wrong.

But for now, speculation sure is fun. 

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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

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Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.

RELATED: BEAL BOUNCED EARLY IN THREE-POINT CONTEST

Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.