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Beasts in the East: NBA Atlantic Division Preview

Posted By Warren Shaw On Oct 17 2012 @ 4:52 pm In NBA | 6 Comments

The NBA’s very busy off season has transformed the  Atlantic Division into a battlefield that could very well be the the league’s best division. Gone are the days of just ink penning the Celtics as the division’s champion with the Knicks, Nets, and 76′ers all vastly improved.

What the Nets have done by moving to Brooklyn and essentially picking a fight with the oldest member on the block in the Knicks should be NBA theater at its finest.

It’s about to get very real, very chippy and very quickly as 4 teams from the division have ideas of a championship.

Here are our experts picks on how the division will shake down:

Warren Shaw’s Picks @Shawsports [1]

1.Boston Celtics

52-30

2.Brooklyn Nets

51-31

3. New York Knicks

49-33

4. Philadelphia 76ers

47-35

5. Toronto Raptors

28-54

The Celtics have the talent and depth to take the division for a 6th straight year. Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, and Jared Sullinger were quite the coups for Boston who also get Jeff Green back. But Brooklyn and New York will be right on their heels especially if Boston succumbs to a major injury as they usually do. The Celtics, Nets and Knicks have benches that should rank in the top 10 this season and these teams could finish in any order at season’s end.

The division could have four 50 win teams if Andrew Bynum can embrace his role as “the man” in Philly but his knee issues and maturity concern me. 

The Raptors seem to be heading in the right direction but are already stumbling out of the gate with Kyle Lowry on an undetermined return from a strained adductor injury. What is that anyway? They will drown in this Atlantic division schedule.

 Sean Eckert’s Picks  @chefdj409 [2]

1. Boston Celtics

58-24

2.Brooklyn Nets

50-32

3. Philadelphia 76ers

48-38

4.New York Knicks

42-40

5. Toronto Raptors

26-56

I don’t think that there is any question that Boston is the big favorite in this division and actually a co-favorite for the conference with Miami.  That being said, I think this is the strongest division in the NBA.  Brooklyn has youth and tons of excitement behind them, while Philly probably has the best coaching in the division (sorry Doc).  The Knicks have payroll and Melo, which should lead them to the playoffs and not much further.  Toronto, sorry, just can’t compete this year.

Logan Williams’ Picks @LoganWill17 [3]

1. New York Knicks

55-27

2.Brooklyn Nets

50-32

3. Boston Celtics

47-35

4.Philadelphia 76ers

42-40

5. Toronto Raptors

30-52

The Knicks have taken a step forward with the additions of Camby, Kidd, and Wallace to help get them a veteran presence and help at the necessary positions. The Knicks struggled last year at the point once Lin went down and he was more of a scorer than a pure passer anyways, unlike Kidd who looks to dish and should set-up Melo and Stoudemire with open looks.

The Nets made a nice move with the addition of Joe Johnson but I still don’t feel like that is enough to overtake the Knicks.

The Celtics lost Allen but replaced him with Terry which seems like an upgrade at each player’s respective points of their career as Allen has struggled with injury. However, the Celtics are built around the new big three of Rondo, KG, and Pierce but the latter two are just getting older and that will keep them in the middle of the Atlantic come seasons end.

The Sixers had a good season last year and the addition of Andrew Bynum was a big move but his immaturity affects the team negatively at times and I can’t see the Sixers having the same magic as last season without their emotional leader in Iguodala.

The Raptors added Landry Fields and drafted Quincy Acy but neither move is enough to make them a contender in the Atlantic, this team is still a few years away.

Steven Jones’ Picks @Stevenjo5 [4]

1. Boston Celtics

52-30

2.Brooklyn Nets

48-34

3. Philadelphia 76ers

42-40

4.New York Knicks

38-44

5. Toronto Raptors

30-52

For Boston, old legs will rear their heads on occasion, and if KG slips or sits out at all, it could get ugly, Darko-style. But the offseason backcourt bolstering should inject some badly-needed youth and give KG and Pierce some offensive support. Rumors that Jared Sullinger is a future All-Star are thus far unfounded.

Brooklyns’ front line has serious defensive deficiencies, but if Deron Williams gets any sort of boost from spending the summer practicing and playing with the world’s best, he’ll be able to bring out the best in Joe Johnson.  

Sixers new franchise centerpiece Andrew Bynum reportedly showed up out of shape and has missed 166 games in his seven-year career. If he stays healthy, shooters Jason Richardson and Dorell Wright could prove potent floor-spacers.

The Knicks offseason moves look great if the goal is to reassemble the 2003 All-Star Team. When trying to contend for the playoffs in 2013, the pieces don’t fit, even if Raymond Felton tries to shove it in every Blazer fan’s face. Fact: the Knicks currently employ four of the league’s six oldest active players, with Kurt Thomas, Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, and Rasheed Wallace all north of their 38th birthdays.

In Toronto everyone up north is excited for Jonas Valanciunas’ debut, but the team around him is a puzzlement, featuring guys with mono-dimensional games or games that haven’t developed yet.

Cal Lee’s Picks @CLMECCA75 [5]

1. Boston Celtics

56-26

2. Philadelphia 76ers

50-32

3. Brooklyn Nets

48-34

4.New York Knicks

47-35

5. Toronto Raptors

25-57

The Celtics finished 2nd in NBA defense and 26th in offense. Look for Coach Rivers to tweak their motion offense to establish a low post presence and open the floor for Rondo as he continues to elevate to elite NBA guard status on another run for the title.

In Philadelphia many people may think that trading for Bynum was a good thing. But the way this 76ers team is built around their guard play and penetration will he truly be the man in the city of Brotherly Love? Doug Collins will still have his fingerprint on this team’s ability to be a Top 10 defensive team even with Bynum who can be a liability defensively.

On paper the Nets roster looks formidable and impressive. There is size, hustle, a little glamour and glitz. But all that glitters doesn’t equate to gold. Their lack of a bench could mean Coach Avery Johnson will be stretching his starters to play enormous minutes. Also this team doesn’t scare you with their perimeter shooting.  Winning their home games will be critical. The Nets as a franchise since 1978 have only won 42% of their home games.  New arena, new borough, new fan base, new attitude.

While the Knicks defense was stout, anchored by Tyson Chandler, their offensive philosophy was score by committee of one. That committee was Carmelo Anthony. The chemistry between Amar’e and Melo I still don’t see blossoming, and even with Jason Kidd off the bench, they do not have a legit 6th man to come in and score.

I would feel bad for Raptors Coach Duane Casey because as good as coach as he is, he loves to take these reclamation project teams that are promised to be rebuilt but never are. They’ve done nothing to elevate their young talent. Until the Raptors figure out what kind of team they want to be they will always finish at the bottom of this division

More division and season previews are to come.  Please feel free to comment here or by using #NBAonPSB on Twitter for any questions for our panel.

[6]

Brooklyn's projected starting 5 (Johnson, Williams, Humprhies, Lopez, & Wallace) photo credit CBS New York

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[1] @Shawsports: https://twitter.com/ShawSports

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[4] @Stevenjo5: https://twitter.com/stevenjo5

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