Editor's note: We asked our panel of NBA experts, "Who will win the Eastern Conference?"
1. Boston Celtics: 13 votes
Maurice Brooks, ESPN.com: When all else fails, the C's have a trio of All-Stars to turn to, and Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins are only going to get better.
Ric Bucher, ESPN Mag: Their roster improved more through the experience of winning a title than the Pistons' or Cavs' did by acquiring or promoting new pieces.
John Hollinger, ESPN.com: LeBron is the only one capable of stalling
a repeat effort.
Mark Jackson, ESPN: They've been there and done that. Defense still wins championships.
Tim Legler, ESPN: They defend, share the ball, and have great leadership. Pierce is now an unquestioned superstar. Still the class of the East.
Keith Lipscomb, ESPN.com Fantasy: Detroit and Cleveland will pose problems in the playoffs, but the light at the end of the tunnel will spur on the big three.
Jackie MacMullan, ESPN
Chris Palmer, ESPN Mag: Safe pick, yes. But they're just that good.
Jack Ramsay, ESPN Radio
Jalen Rose, ESPN: Will hold the crown until it is taken.
Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com: Over the Cavs in another epic seven-game
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: The Celtics and Cavs will be hooking up for another seven-game series, only this time it'll happen in the East finals. Same outcome, though.
David Thorpe, Scouts Inc.: Even though the East is tougher, assuming this team won't still be the toughest is a mistake.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: 3 votes
J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: If LeBron can't take over the entire league, he can at least own a conference. And this time there won't be a sweep waiting for him in the Finals.
Chris Broussard, ESPN Mag: LeBron's that good.
Scoop Jackson, ESPN.com
3. Detroit Pistons: 2 votes
Henry Abbott, ESPN.com's TrueHoop: I'm gambling on a rookie coach here. But I'll tell you, if I were the Celtics or the Cavaliers, I'd hate to see this team fully motivated.
Chad Ford, ESPN.com: I see another Celtics-Pistons rematch in the Eastern Conference finals.
I think the Pistons' depth this year could put them over the top.