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NBA Preview Part 1: Atlantic Division

October 5, 2010

It's October.  You have the NFL and college football in full swing. The MLB playoffs run throughout the month (Go Giants).  But it is also three weeks from the beginning of the most anticipated NBA season in recent memory.  Since we can't hold in this bottle of anticipation any longer, and aren't sure when we will see basketball again after this season, LCB is getting a head start with today's Atlantic Division preview.  I wanted to do an over/under regular season wins based on Vegas, but since it's still early, I haven't seen any released yet. For right now, I will use last year's win totals to make predictions, and in the coming days, Teach will be posting player "profiles."

1)  Boston Celtics
Last Year: 50-32, Lost in NBA Finals
Additions: Shaquille and Jermaine O'Neal
Subtractions: Rasheed Wallace, Kendrick Perkins until the All Star Break.

The Celtics made a surprise run to the NBA Finals and brought back the Big Three for one more opportunity at a title.  After Kendrick Perkins tore his ACL in Game 6 of the finals and will be shelved for the beginning of the season, the Celtics have turned to two old centers with the same last name.  The O'Neals will be needed to provide stability in the frontcourt and will need to stay healthy, which neither have been able to over the course of their careers.  If they can provide enough until Perk comes back, Rondo continues to be Rondo, and the Big 3 can stay relatively healthy, then I like the Celtics to slightly increase their total.
Prediction: 52-30

2) Toronto Raptors
Last Year: 40-42
Additions: Leandro Barbosa, Amir Johnson
Subtractions: Chris Bosh, Hedo Turkoglu

The Raptors offseason as been terribly similar to the Cleveland Cavs offseason, as the lost their franchise player Chris Bosh and didn't really add anybody of note. They should have attempted with Bosh what the Nuggets are doing with Melo. Trade him for something or lose him for nothing. They have a roster of good shooters and occasionally will be able to get hot and just outscore teams.  They also had the worst defensive team in the league last season, and have no proven interior scoring as Bargnani likes to camp out on the perimeter and shoot threes.  The will need to scrape together a season where they will be challenging for the league's worst record and depending on the bounce of a lottery ball. No brainer they will be lower than last year.
Prediction:  22-60

3)  New York Knicks
Last Year: 29-53
Additions: Amare Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, Anthony Randolph
Subtractions: David Lee, Al Harrington, Chris Duhon

It was a rather disappointing offseason for the Knicks as they are left wondering what could have been.  They lost out on the Lebron James sweepstakes and weren't able to pull in Dwyane Wade either.  They were able to grab Amare Stoudemire as a consolation prize, but the future of the franchise can't be reliant on a guy with a huge injury history, lack of defensive prowess, no proven leadership capacities, and abilities that are totally reliant on a pass first point guard like Steve Nash.  But he can be a piece of the puzzle, and the Knicks have some other pieces: Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph.  The Knicks will be better and they have players that are better suited to run Mike D'Antoni's system, but the future is still unknown, and they will need more to contend.
Prediction: 41-41 8th place first round exit

4)  Philadephia 76ers
Last Year: 27-55
Additions: Evan Turner, Andres Nocioni, Spencer Hawes
Subtractions: Samuel Dalembert, Allen Iverson

The 76ers had the pinball bounce their way in the draft lottery and were able to land a stud college player in Evan Turner with the second pick.  They made a good move by firing Eddie Jordan last year, as I don't believe he knows how to teach defense, but the Doug Collins hire was perplexing to say the least.  Just doesn't seem to fit with a team chock full of young players.  Most of their best returning players are young (Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holiday, Louis Williams, Marreese Speights) and I would expect them all to improve from a year ago.  There major weakness is in the interior, and they didn't do anything to address it and it will be hard to with the bad contract of Elton Brand. They will improve their win total and will challenge for a playoff spot, but won't be a serious factor because of the youth and lack of frontcourt defense.
Prediction: 38-44

5)  New Jersey Nets
Last Year: 12-70
Additions:  Avery Johnson, Derrick Favors, Jordan Farmar, Troy Murphy, Anthony Morrow, Brian Zoubek
Subtractions: Crappy players from a 12 win team.

Here is your cliche review of the Nets last season that you will see everywhere, "It couldn't get any worse for the Nets last season on their way to winning 12 games, but the good news is that they can only up from here"

Now that we can move on, I liked what the Nets did in the offseason.  When you only have 4 players left from a team that won 12 games, you have done what you can to change the culture of losing.  They were in the Lebron sweepstakes and lost, but it won't be disastrous like I think it was for the Knicks and Cavs.  They couldn't really grab any of the top flight free agents, but they didn't go overboard with any of the contracts they signed. They have some quick guards that can penetrate and have outside shooting, so their offense will be much better. Derrick Favors and Damion James will be productive NBA players. Brook Lopez and Troy Murphy will be provide interior scoring, but will have trouble with good interior players. They have some pieces, but this won't be an overnight fix and they won't be the worst team this year.
Prediction: 29-53


Langston said...

Is it just me or is it weird that the Celtics introduced Shaq as a Celtic the same day they unveiled Madame Tussauds' statue of Doc Rivers?

October 5, 2010 at 9:42 PM
Teach said...

Yeah, I love that picture of Shaq and Doc, totally looks like Doc is trying to send a message to the media telepathically that this was Ainge's idea. However, I like the Shaq signing--they could have used him this year in Game 7.

October 6, 2010 at 6:32 PM
poker affiliate said...

The Celtics should win the division convincingly. This is arguably the weakest division in basketball, and the addition of Shaq should ensure their continued dominance even though he is well past his prime he should take some stress of the bench players.

October 6, 2010 at 9:50 PM
Teach said...

Where this division gets interesting is the race for 2nd and which team puts itself into a position to eventually take over once the C's are actually too old. Philly, Jersey, and New York all have a few nice pieces. My money is on Jersey over the long haul because their ownership is Cuban with a Russian accent.

October 6, 2010 at 10:07 PM

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