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Charles Barkley: Celtics now team to beat in east for ‘next 10 years’

January 17, 2011; Los Angeles, CA, USA; TNT analyst Charles Barkley talks outside the Staples Center before the start of the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Lebron James’ decision to leap over the fence, leaving the Eastern Conference behind in favor of the Los Angeles Lakers in the west, is making waves across the Association.

We already know that the Cleveland Cavaliers are destined to skulk back to mediocrity (or worse) due to his move. And as it is in nature, there’s going to be some positive developments for another party now that the balance of power has shifted.

This leads us to what Charles Barkley had to say Sunday night about the Eastern Conference, and more specifically, about the Boston Celtics. According to Sir Charles, the Celtics are now the team to beat in the east for the next 10 years.

That’s probably not too far-fetched an idea. And coming from Barkley, it’s a big deal, as he’s been down on Boston for quite some time now.

However, it does discount the continued development of of the Philadelphia 76ers, not to mention the Indiana Pacers, who gave LeBron and Co. a serious run for their money in the playoffs.

Sure, Boston looks to be set up in spectacular fashion for the long haul. And yes, the west is clearly in control of the NBA right now, with even the best teams in the east looking pretty pathetic compared to the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and now the Lakers.

But that doesn’t mean the east won’t see its fair share of competitive battles in the playoffs.