Possibly the best division in the NBA Eastern Conference, the Atlantic Division, will come down to three teams. That are the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and the new Brooklyn Nets. The Philadelphia 76ers might be another team that could sneak above either of those teams to get a high seed in the post-season. The only team that may have trouble this year again in the division and that’s the team up north the Toronto Raptors.
The Toronto Raptors ever since entering the league in 1995 have always been a lottery team or a lower seed team and that’s what they will be again this year. They have been able to acquire Kyle Lowry and Landry Fields to go along with Andrea Bargnani, but that’s all they have. They don’t have the power to climb far in this Atlantic Division. They may have streaks this season of 5 or 6 wins, but they will also have a lot of streaks that consist of 6-10 games lost, which is why I do not expect the Raptors to win more than 35 games this year. They are improving, but they are going to need to do a lot more if they ever want to show the city of Toronto that they can be a franchise that will bring them glory.
For the Philadelphia 76ers they have made some great improvements by adding Andrew Bynum as their big man. They have also added Jason Richardson and Kwame Brown to go along with Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young. The 76ers this past season were able to upset the #1 seeded Chicago Bulls after Derrick Rose got injured in the first round of the playoffs. They also took the Boston Celtics to seven games in the next round. This year I expect the 76ers to be a whole lot better than they were last season and I expect them to have a great season with getting close to the 50 win mark, but with the power of both the Celtics and the Nets they may not be able to get a higher seed.
Now the New York Knicks have a question mark on them for this coming season and that question mark may cost them a chance to compete with the Nets and Celtics for the Division Title. That question mark is that will both Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony be able to get along and help build the team’s chemistry. I mean they have great talent on this team that can compete in the East. They have Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith, Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas, Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd which all these players should be able to win over 50 games this year, but I believe that the team’s chemistry will kill them this year and I believe that either Carmelo or Amar’e or both will be the reason for that.
The Boston Celtics are the team I believe will win the #2 seed in the East by winning the Atlantic Division. I see the Boston Celtics as the “San Antonio Spurs” of the East. They are old, but if they are able to rest Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and have them healthy and ready by the time March and April gets here. If they can turn it on like the Spurs usually do at the end of the season then I believe the Celtics will have a successful run to the Eastern Finals where they should be facing the Miami Heat.
They have lost Ray Allen, but with the addition of Jason Terry they should be okay. Terry should fill the shoes that Allen left. Jason Terry was the main reason the Dallas Mavericks won their 2011 NBA Championship and the “JET” knows how to come up in the clutch. Remember they still have Rajon Rondo and Brandon Bass along with new additions, Courtney Lee and Jeff Green the Celtics have enough power to compete in the East and compete with the Heat when the post-season arrives. The only thing that will hurt them is injuries which they will need to take lessons from the Spurs by resting their key guys throughout the season and in return it could pay off with a NBA Finals appearance.
As for the new Brooklyn Nets they were able to keep Deron Williams from going to the Mavericks by acquiring Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace. They dropped out of the Dwight Howard trade that would have landed them Superman and instead kept Brook Lopez. Now the Nets are championship contenders. Wrong!
Yes they have great talent and they added great additions, but I believe the last time Joe Johnson was on a great team they failed to make it to the NBA Finals when he was with the Phoenix Suns who had Amar’e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion and Steve Nash and failed to make it to the NBA Finals. He thought he could go to Atlanta and make a difference there, but look where that got him. One of the worst contracts in the NBA and the Nets were dumb enough to trade for it.
Then again I may be wrong and Joe Johnson could be one of the greatest players the Nets have ever had in the franchise history and maybe he could become a great sidekick to Deron Williams to help the Nets reach great potential in Brooklyn. The Nets should have waited and see if they could have landed Dwight Howard, but instead they took chances on a man that only averages about 6-8 rebounds a game in Brook Lopez.
Yes he can get you 18-20 points every night, but I rather have a big man that can rebound 15-20 a game. The Nets I do believe will be a great regular season team, but when it comes to the post-season that may be a different story we will just have to wait and see when that time comes.
1. Boston Celtics 57-25
2. Brooklyn Nets 54-28
3. New York Knicks 50-32
4. Philadelphia 76ers 46-36
5. Toronto Raptors 33-49