With the loss of Ariza counterbalanced by the signing of Paul Pierce (!!), the Washington Wizards have to be looked upon as the favorites in the Southeast Division. The Heat will have Bosh, Wade, and probably not much else. The Hawks will be better, but they’re the Hawks, so they’ll probably end up being the 7th or 8th seed, because, well, they’re the Hawks. Charlotte is still Charlotte and the Magic are a couple of years away, so I’m confident that the Wizards will win the division.
While we don’t have DeShawn Stevenson anymore, the Wizards-Cavaliers rivalry is back. John Wall and Kyrie Irving have gone at it over the past couple of years, point guards picked in consecutive drafts who will inevitably be compared for their entire careers. The Pierce and LeBron rivalry is also alive and well, and should further fuel an emotionally charged matchup between the two teams. While Pierce is older, slower, and not the threat he once was, he always seems to give LeBron fits (with the exception of last year’s Nets-Heat playoff series). The East will definitely be more competitive next year and it will certainly make for an intriguing playoff race.