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We give you the lowdown on all of the Atlantic Division teams, along with links to previews from their hometown blogs!
We're going to do something a bit different with our NBA Preview links this year. Instead of just throwing out the links as usual, we'll offer a short take on what the blogs said about their teams as well as what we think will happen. Let us know if you agree or disagree in the comments!
Our grading scale:
The three blogs all seemingly agree. The Celtics have only gotten better over the off-season, and the only acceptable outcome for them is an NBA Championship.
||Many of the blogs like to tout that the Celtics are great defensively. But, one thing they all seem to forget is that the Celtics came dead last in offensive rebounds per game last year with 7.7, a full 2 rebounds below the next worst team. This team is good defensively because they almost always get back on defense. That's not to say that they aren't good in general, but what they'll really need this season is a dose of clutch offense from Jason Terry, something that Ray Allen couldn't provide.|
||During the playoffs, the Celtics' big Achilles Heel surfaced - they were not a good offensive team last season, had to work incredibly hard to get good shots, and with Paul Pierce struggling, did not have a natural end-game shot maker to put them over the edge. The addition of Terry should help in that department some, but as we in OKC saw, he too is on the downside of his career and has a tendency to overestimate his scoring ability. The C's should get past the 1st round, but title contention may be too much to ask.|
Unlike the Celtics, these Nets blogs aren't clamoring for a championship. Most of them are just clamoring for relevance, and they all would be satisfied with a deep playoff run. But how well the new group manages to gel together remains to be seen. All of the bloggers are satisfied with how the roster plays together, but they all know that their interior will be the biggest question mark, with Brook Lopez injury-prone and Mirza Teletovic being an unproven rookie.
||The pieces are there and the depth is there, but the question in my mind is whether they all fit together. Obviously the team will be better, but what separates them from other teams? Joe Johnson is mainly a scorer, while Deron Williams hasn't proven that he's at the level he once was. Wallace is a hustle guy, and Lopez is a question mark. Where's the marquee star? Perhaps one will emerge, perhaps they'll be Sheed's Pistons 2.0. But until tip-off, we won't know how good this team really is.|
||The Nets are heading in the right direction and they finally have a decent collection of talent in the starting line-up to be competitive in more than a handful of regular season games. However, in order to make the jump from lottery team to playoff team, they'd have to add about 20 wins over last season just to sniff the 8th seed, and I'm not sure the team culture is in place to do that. They'll come close, but in the end they may be best served to simply work toward becoming a more consistent team and then really make a push in the 2013-14 season.|
Posting and Toasting remains realistic about the Knicks expectations. Most people are clamoring for the championship, but they still need to win a playoff series first, for crying out loud. Shooting and Turnovers seem to be their biggest problems, along with still adjusting to Mike Woodson as head coach.
||Honestly, I think this team will surprise a lot of people. Of course, the Knicks are covered extensively no matter what, but the fact is that this team just got a lot older and wiser. The talent to be a legitimate contender was always there, but the role players on the bench really weren't. Now you've got Marcus Camby and Jason Kidd to provide a good deal of steadiness, and I wouldn't forget Pablo Prigioni, the world's oldest rookie point guard. But all eyes will be on Raymond Felton, for if he flounders, everyone's thoughts will turn to you-know-who.|
|Sherman's Take||The only confidence I have in the Knicks lies in my faith in Tyson Chandler. Amare Stoudemire is turning into a high-priced afterthought and Carmelo Anthony has yet to really create any sort of winning culture in NY. Kidd, who won a championship with Chandler in Dallas, will be seeking to end his career on a positive note, but his leadership might be undermined by Felton, who has a history of starting well but losing his team mid-stream. The Knicks have to prove they can get past the 1st round before I I can grade them higher.|
Liberty Ballers thinks that having no shooters will be the biggest problem Philly faces, but they also have Andrew Bynum. Pretty much everything said in this preview goes back to Andrew Bynum, and his ability to lead the team. The rest of the team has problems, yes. And their defense might not be a good. But they've got Andrew Bynum!
||What really concerns me about Philadelphia is how well the role players will be able to cover their flaws. The only player who doesn't have any concerns surrounding him is Jrue Holiday. Andrew Bynum's not mature. Turner might be a bust. Hawes doesn't play defense. Richardson is old. Kwame Brown is Kwame Brown. Dorell Wright gets injured a lot. The list goes on. If this team can truly sync, or Turner can have a breakout year, this team might make some noise. But most likely, they're a few years away.|
||Z's take above is all on point, but I wonder if this team, though poorly built for a great regular season, might be a better playoff team. To be sure they're going to be hunting all season to find a team identity and method for closing out close games, but if they can get a solid seed in the playoffs and avoid either Miami or Indiana, I could see them pulling an upset off the strengths of their defense and inside post game.|
The general sentiment in Toronto this year seems to be that the Raptors are ready to make a playoff run. Valanciunas has finally come over from the land of the Grateful Dead, Kyle Lowry gives them a significant point guard, and Ross and Acy could potentially make an impact.
||The Raptors still have a long, long way to go. I've watched Jonas Valanciunas for a couple of years now, and, at least for now, he's not ready to live up to the hype. His first year in Toronto will be full of growing pains, with only a few flashes of brilliance. And the rest of the team just doesn't stack up, especially when compared to their intimidating division. Their solid defense and Euro-style sharing of the basketball will turn heads, and we'll see a few upsets this year, no doubt. But the Raptors are still rebuilding, no doubt about it.|
||In the NBA, there is a pattern that has developed where one of the best ways for a team to change its identity is to find a coach and a point guard whose styles and personalities compliment each other. Whether it was Don Nelson and Baron Davis in Golden State, Tom Thibodeau and Derrick Rose in Chicago, or Rick Carlisle and Jason Kidd in Dallas, if a team can put this piece together, an entire culture can begin to change. With 2nd year coach Dwane Casey now matched up with new import Kyle Lowry, I think the Raptors' culture is about to change and they may be scratching at a .500 record.|
What do you think about the Atlantic Division teams? Let us know in the poll and the comments!
Who do you think will come out on top of the Atlantic Division?
The Boston Celtics (16 votes)
The Brooklyn Nets (1 vote)
The New York Knicks (2 votes)
The Philadelphia 76ers (0 votes)
The Toronto Raptors (1 vote)
20 total votes