What does Kyrie Irving's return mean for the Toronto Raptors?

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Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

The landscape of the East

Formally known as the weaker of the two conferences, the Eastern Conference has stepped up its game this year and holds an abundance of talented teams in its ranks. In fact, the Eastern Conference might just be home to the best team in the NBA: the Milwaukee Bucks, led by the reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Overall, though, there's a lot of depth in the East and outside of the top spot -- the Bucks will certainly hold the one seed until the end of the season -- everything looks to be up for grabs. The Bucks are currently possessing an NBA-best 35-6 record and are seven games ahead of the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.

From the second seed until the sixth seed, everything seems up for grabs. The Raptors sit in the fourth seed and the last home-court spot but are only half a game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers and have been stumbling through the last few games, with an avoidable loss to the San Antonio Spurs coming in as the latest entry of a string of games the Raptors should not have lost.

The Nets are seventh in the East and just half a game ahead of the Orlando Magic in eighth, but their aspirations of finishing in a playoff spot don't seem to be in any jeopardy. Their seeding, however, is still far from being decided.

Now that Irving has returned to the team, the Nets can look to get back on track and push up their way up the standings. As it stands, the top of the East is competitive. Every team, outside of Milwaukee, as shown that they are capable of beating one another.

Next: Should the Raptors be concerned?