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2012-13 NBA Atlantic Division Season Preview

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2012-13 NBA Atlantic Division Season Preview

Derick Hingle-US Presswire

For the past half a decade or so the NBA's Atlantic Division has been looked at many fans, journalists and even fellow players as the doormat of the Association however with an injection of top level players and promising youth all of that has been slowly changing and now this may be the year where this division could actually be known as one of the best if not the top division in the entire league.

All five teams within the division have a chance to contend for a playoff berth and four of them have at least a realistic, outside chance at reaching the NBA Finals.

With the start of the season just a couple of weeks away here is my 2012-13 Atlantic Division Season Preview.

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#5 Toronto Raptors (38-44)

Michael Hickey-US Presswire

Last season: (23-43), Fourth Place in the division

The Toronto Raptors have a very solid core of young players including Andrea Bargnani, Ed Davis and DeMarr Derozan who they are just waiting on to all be able to gel together and lead this team into the next few years. During the off-season the Raptors also decided to help these guys out with making some pretty good acquisitions such as Kyle Lowery, Landry Fields and John Lucas III. If these three guys can blend well with the three young faces of the league and their two first round picks from the past two drafts (Jonas Valanciunas, 5th overall in 2011 and Terrance Ross, 8th overall in 2012) then the Raptors can have a very surprising season.

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#4 New York Knicks (46-36)

Anthony Gruppuso-US Presswire

Last season: 36-30, second place in the division

The New York Knicks had a very interesting off-season; they let the city's hero from a season ago Jeremy Lin walk, replaced him with a point guard who they previously traded away (Raymond Felton), signed a bunch of almost 40-somethings (Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas) and named Mike Woodson their full-time head coach by signing him to a multi-year deal. With all of that change how can Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony ever learn to co-exist and lead this team to where only the James Dolan and Knicks fans believe they can go? One thing is for certain though with another team now sharing the Five Boroughs with the Knicks, all the drama surrounding the Melo/Stat situation and potential back-firing of not re-signing Lin it will be a very entertaining season for in the Garden.

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#3 Brooklyn Nets (50-32)

Eric Hartline-US Presswire

Last season: (22-44), fifth place in the the division

No team has gone through the amount of change that the Brooklyn Nets have endured during the off-season; not only did they gain a couple of key acquisitions (Joe Johnson, Reggie Evans, C.J. Watson, Andray Blatche and Russian import Mirza Teletovic) but they also changed hometowns when moving from the mid-sized city of Newark, NJ to the Big Apple's most prideful borough of Brooklyn. All-Star point Deron Williams re-signed with the team and is hoping that with the added players along with the apparent "Brooklyn effect" that this team will transform into an entire different team from a season ago; one thing is for sure they have arguably the best back court in the NBA and one of the better starting lineups in the Eastern Conference on paper. Now all they have to do is match the expectations that are place on them; I'll say it first hand as someone who was born and raised in Brooklyn; if the Nets win they will be the Kings of the County of Kings however if they lose they will be ostracized beyond belief and the reason for both is because the borough hasn't had a pro team which they could call their own since 1957 when the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.
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#2 Philadelphia 76ers (52-30)

Howard Smith-US Presswire

Last season: 35-31, third place in the division

The Philadelphia 76ers are going to be a force to be reckoned with this season thanks in large part to the mixture of returning talent from their roster a season ago and the plethora of moves which they made in the off-season. The addition of Andrew Bynum gives them something which only four other teams have in the Association which is a dominant big-man who can influence the game on both ends of the court. Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes will all benefit from Bynum's presence and should all blossom into the NBA players that many thought they would become. Philly also has an extremely deep bench headed by the likes of Thaddeus Young, Lavoy Allen, Nick Young and Dorrell Wright. The rest of the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference better watch out because the Liberty Bell isn't going to be the only thing rocking in the city of brotherly love this season.

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#1 Boston Celtics (56-26)

Mark L. Baer-US Presswire

Last season: 39-27, first place in the division

The Boston Celtics have been the class of the Atlantic Division for the past five season and even though the division has improved drastically that won't change this season. Ray Allen may be gone but Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo all return and with them will be a much improved second unit filled with a mixture of proven veterans and young talent who can all seriously ball. Super sixth-man Jason Terry is the ideal replacement for Allen as he can step in easily and the void at the two guard position at anytime. Besides Terry the C's also picked up Courtney Lee who plays that position as well and the two of them should actually be an improvement at that spot over the future Hall-of-Famer. Boston will also welcome the return of two players who they lost a season ago to heart aliments in Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox. The icing on the cake for Doc Rivers' crew is the fact that they had an excellent draft selecting Jared Sullinger, Fabo Melo and Kris Joseph adding even more depth to one of the league's top front courts.