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The 3rd annual H8ERZ guide to the Eastern Conference playoffs

Hate on, Knicks fans!

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the H8ERZ club, ladies and germs. This third installment feels very different than the 2013 and 2014 editions. Gone are the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, who held down the top two spots last year. And though they were replaced by at least one franchise worthy of our everlasting contempt, the Year of the Tank warped our priorities in a serious way. Our bitterest rivals were not teams like Brooklyn or Boston -- instead, we dueled with bottom-feeders like Minnesota and Philly for the privilege of the league's worst record.

The tank may be technically over, but its spirit lives on in this year's H8ERZ Guide. This season's true villains, after all, were the teams despicable enough to grant us unwanted victories.

Here are the Eastern Conference playoff teams, in order of hate-ability:

No. 8: Milwaukee Bucks

Record vs. New York: 4-0

A perfect storm of non-hating is brewing up in Milwaukee. The Bucks are a charming young team that handled their business against the Knicks this season in convincing fashion. Giannis Antetokounmpo will make his postseason debut, so we might even get a Thanasis crowd cameo!

No. 7: Brooklyn Nets

Record vs. New York: 4-0

This might come as a surprise, but there's really no reason to hate on the Nets in these playoffs. They did the Knicks a huge favor by sweeping the season series -- New York was an unacceptably decent 5-7 against their three other Atlantic Division rivals. A playoff series in Brooklyn is always good for a few hilarious shots of a half-empty Barclays at tip-off and Nets players praising the other team's fans. And who doesn't enjoy more Lionel Hollins quotes?

Hell, I wouldn't even mind seeing the Nets take a few games of their first-round series, if only to convince Mikhail Prokhorov to stay the course. The front office came perilously close to breaking up the Brook Lopez/Deron Williams/Joe Johnson core prior to the trade deadline. This cannot stand, people! This group must limp on forever! Extend Joe Johnson now!

No. 6: Atlanta Hawks

Record vs. New York: 2-1

Should you have a problem with the Hawks? Absolutely not. They're the most likable of the actual Eastern Conference contenders.

That being said...ya done fucked up, Hawks! How dare you lose to the Knicks in their final road game of the season? You have officially earned my contempt for all eternity!

No. 5: Cleveland Cavaliers

Record vs. New York: 2-1

I came into this season ready to hate hard on these Cavs, but they never really proved themselves worthy of such enmity. Playoff J.R. Smith is always more entertaining when he's playing for somebody else's team, so that should be fun. Watch him behave like a responsible adult for once, going to bed every night at 10 while the Cavs march to the title. That would be quite annoying, actually. Let the beast out of the cage, Earl!

No. 4: Washington Wizards

Record vs. New York: 4-0

Four wins to aid the #KnicksTank. A coach so incompetent that he makes you feel 1000-percent more confident in Derek Fisher. John Wall doing John Wall things. How did the Wizards wind up so high on this list, anyway?


No. 3: Toronto Raptors

Record vs. New York: 3-1

Andrea Bargnani is still technically on the Knicks' roster until the end of the Finals, so this just feels right. The Raptors seem to be finally running out of steam from their magnificent post-Bargs, post-Rudy Gay bump, but they got two division titles out of it, which ain't too shabby. If the Knicks play their cards right, next season's post-Bargs bump could make them favorites in the Atlantic.

No. 2: Chicago Bulls

Record vs. New York: 3-0

No drama is more irritating than Bulls drama. Waaah, the coach plays our good players too many minutes, or plays Kirk Hinrich instead of some other good players that we have on the bench. Our owner is too cheap to re-sign all the good players we have on the roster. Derrrrrrrrick Roooooooooossssssssssseeeeeeeeeeee!

Let me put it this way: the Bulls had the ninth-best odds (1.9%) of landing Rose, a superstar freshman and local kid. They got him. The Knicks have the second-best odds (19.9%) of landing Karl-Anthony Towns, a superstar freshman and local kid. And everybody knows there ain't a goddamn way in hell we are getting him.

You haven't won a title since you won those six in the '90s? Sorry, not sorry.

No. 1: Boston Celtics

Record vs. New York: 3-1

These motherfuckers again? Ugh.

I already hate Brad Stevens more than any other coach in the NBA. He's a tactical genius! Coaching the Celtics to a 40-42 record in the Eastern Conference is the greatest accomplishment since the Miracle on Ice! He's ATO plays are so perfect, Jesus Christ Himself descends from heaven to stuff home a lob from Evan Turner!

The Celtics have the greatest clipboard-minder in history. They control half the league's draft picks from now until rapture. They will dominate the Knicks for the next four decades, at least.

Whatever. The 2012-13 Knicks still ended the Pierce/KG/Rondo run. I hope these new Celtics lose every game of their first-round series by at least 30.