Play-off picks: Eastern Conference

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

With LeBron James likely to coast through the season to save up for the play-offs, it's time for Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to prove their worth.

Last season: 57-25

Players - Out: Timofey Mozgov, Matthew Dellavedova, Sasha Kaun, Dahntay Jones, Mo Williams (retired). In: Mike Dunleavy, Chris Andersen, Markel Brown, John Holland.

BOSTON CELTICS

Getting Al Horford from Atlanta upgrades this defence-first team into a dark horse for the Eastern title.

Last season: 48-34

Players - Out: Jared Sullinger, Evan Turner, John Holland. In: Al Horford, Gerald Green. Rookies: Jaylen Brown, Guerschon Yabusele, Ante Zizic.

ATLANTA HAWKS

Big question: How will Dwight Howard fit into their flowing offence? Will the towering centre clog up the middle?

Last season: 48-34

Players - Out: Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Lamar Patterson. In: Dwight Howard, Jarrett Jack, Will Bynum, Ryan Kelly, Malcolm Delaney. Rookies: Taurean Prince, DeAndre Bembry.

TORONTO RAPTORS

Still a well-drilled offensive team, but made precious few off-season improvements. Last season: 56-26

Players - Out: Bismack Biyombo, James Johnson, Luis Scola, Jason Thompson.

In: Jared Sullinger. Rookie: Jakob Poeltl.

INDIANA PACERS

Once again they try to build around Paul George, and getting a good play-off seeding will be the primary target.

Last season: 45-37

Players - Out: Jordan Hill, Ty Lawson, Solomon Hill, Ian Mahinmi, George Hill, Shayne Whittington.

In: Aaron Brooks, Al Jefferson, Kevin Seraphin, Jeremy Evans, Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young.

WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Good enough for the play-offs, but better defence needed.

Last season: 41-41

Players - Out: Alan Anderson, Jared Dudley, Nene Hilario, Ramon Sessions, Drew Gooden.

In: Ian Mahinmi, Andrew Nicholson, Johnny O'Bryant, Jason Smith.

CHICAGO BULLS

Major off-season rebuilding sees Dwyane Wade return to his home town. Will he be healthy enough to lead the Bulls into the play-offs?

Last season: 42-40

Players - Out: Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Mike Dunleavy, Aaron Brooks, Cameron Bairstow, Justin Holiday, E'Twaun Moore.

In: Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, Robin Lopez, Isaiah Canaan, Jerian Grant. Rookie: Denzel Valentine.

NEW YORK KNICKS

The favourite dysfunctional team in the past decade had a blockbuster off-season. They should sneak into the play-offs at the very least.

Last season: 32-50

Players - Out: Arron Afflalo, Langston Galloway, Kevin Seraphin, Derrick Williams, Jose Calderon, Jerian Grant, Robin Lopez, Amar'e Stoudemire (retired).

In: Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Courtney Lee, Joakim Noah, Justin Holiday.

TEAMS NOT IN CONTENTION

Brooklyn , Charlotte, Detroit , Miami , Milwaukee , Orlando , Philadelphia.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2016, with the headline 'Play-off picks: Eastern Conference'. Print Edition | Subscribe