Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are expected to lead the Warriors to another title. Getty

The 2017-18 NBA season tips off Tuesday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers host the Boston Celtics in the East, while the defending champion Golden State Warriors raise another banner when they face the Houston Rockets in the West.

All four teams, along with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs, are expected to be among the best teams in the league. With the additions of Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, the Thunder should be the most intriguing contender.

Here's a look at how teams stack up in the upcoming season.


Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics (54-28)
Toronto Raptors (44-38)
Philadelphia 76ers (41-41)
New York Knicks (26-56)
Brooklyn Nets (23-59)

The Celtics are better off with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward than they were with flashy Isaiah Thomas, while Brad Stevens will have his eyes on capturing the East with one of the deepest teams in the league. The Raptors remain a playoff mainstay with a consistently talented backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. The Sixers are easily among the most fascinating teams in the league with young stars Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, along with the unclear future of Jahlil Okafor. If the Knicks and Nets combined their rosters, they still wouldn't make the playoffs.

Central Division

Cleveland Cavaliers (58-24)
Milwaukee Bucks (46-36)
Detroit Pistons (35-47)
Indiana Pacers (30-52)
Chicago Bulls (26-56)

There is little reason to believe that LeBron James won't lead the Cavs to another division title with only the surging Bucks as a potential obstacle. Cleveland remains the class of the conference, but Milwaukee looks like the dark horse to shock teams in the postseason. The Pistons have some interesting parts with Andre Drummond and Avery Bradley, but it would be surprising if they snuck into the playoffs. The Pacers and Bulls won't be a factor after losing their star players.

Southeast Division

Washington Wizards (54-28)
Charlotte Hornets (43-39)
Miami Heat (38-44)
Orlando Magic (36-46)
Atlanta Hawks (22-60)

Probably the weakest division in the league, the Wizards seem poised to run away with the Southeast simply because of John Wall and Bradley Beal. The Hornets have Steve Clifford, one of the most underrated coaches in the league, to help them overachieve with a roster lacking a legitimate superstar. Because of 11 returning players, the Heat should have the experience and chemistry to win enough close games to earn a playoff berth. The Magic may see a sharp uptick from last year's 29-win season with a young roster that should get a boost from an extra year of experience. Dennis Schroder and Ersan Ilyasova will do enough to keep the Hawks from looking downright miserable.


Southwest Division

Houston Rockets (54-28)
San Antonio Spurs (51-31)
New Orleans Pelicans (46-36)
Memphis Grizzlies (37-45)
Dallas Mavericks (27-55)

This loaded division will beat up on each other, with the Rockets likely to nudge their way into the No. 3 seed. Chris Paul will look comfortable playing alongside James Harden, and Mike D'Antoni has a solid group of players surrounding the stellar backcourt. The Spurs have basically entered the season as contenders since the David Robinson era and this year shouldn't much different, as Gregg Popovich once again has a talented and consistent roster. The Pelicans are due for a big season with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins playing in their first full seasons together, but depth issues will likely hold them back. It will take an improved effort and a full season from Mike Conley and Marc Gasol to keep Memphis in the playoff hunt, with head coach David Fizdale needed to work some magic. It should be a long year for the Mavs unless Dennis Smith Jr. exceeds the already lofty expectations.

Northwest Division

Oklahoma City Thunder (57-25)
Minnesota Timberwolves (52-30)
Denver Nuggets (46-36)
Utah Jazz (44-38)
Portland Trail Blazers (41-41)

This is the deepest conference in the league. The Thunder and the Timberwolves made big moves in the offseason and should put a lot of pressure on the rest of the West. Unless Russell Westbrook has a big letdown, it is hard to forsee the Oklahoma City faltering. Minnesota's addition of Jimmy Butler, combined with the maturation of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, means the Timberwolves are finally serious about winning. The Nuggets are stacked with underrated big man Paul Millsap, and some talented young stars, which includes Jamal Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay — two young point guards battling for minutes. The Jazz are always in the playoff picture because they have a long history of excelling at home and Quin Snyder should continue to boast one of the league's best defenses. There aren't many backcourts as dynamic as Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum but Portland will need an improvement on defense and players like Jusuf Nurkic and Pat Connaughton to step up.

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors (62-20)
Los Angeles Clippers (43-39)
Los Angeles Lakers (34-48)
Phoenix Suns (32-50)
Sacramento Kings (25-59)

This division clearly belongs to the Warriors, who will likely run away with it before the New Year. The Clippers will no doubt struggle without Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford, but may still have enough talent to reach the playoffs. The Lakers are a team on the rise with Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, and after adding Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but it will be tough for Luke Walton's squad to make a serious run at the postseason. The Suns and Kings are still in rebuilding mode with reasons to be optimistic — just not this season.

Playoff Teams


1) Cavaliers

2) Celtics

3) Wizards

4) Bucks

5) Raptors

6) Hornets

7) Sixers

8) Heat


1) Warriors

2) Thunder

3) Rockets

4) Timberwolves

5) Spurs

6) Pelicans

7) Nuggets

8) Jazz

NBA Finals

Warriors over Cavs