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The Raptors were the surprise team of the Eastern Conference last year. They went 48-34, and won the Atlantic Division crown. Kyle Lowry was sensational, and was able to build chemistry with DeMar DeRozan like KC and Jo-Jo. They developed into one of the premier backcourts in the NBA, and one more year together means one more year of solid maturation.
In this division size in the frontcourt will be an advantage, and the Raptors have it. Center Jonas Valancuinas was good a season ago, and averaged 11.3 PPG and 8.8 RPG. If he can continue doing that the Raptors are in good shape like Beyonce Knowles. They also added tough big man Tyler Hansborough who is a pest defensively and on the boards.
One of the main reasons the Nets eliminated the Raptors in the playoffs last season was bench play. The Raptors bench ranked 28th last season in scoring. However, help has arrived in the form of trigger-happy wingman Lou Williams. If he can provide some punch. The Raptors will be battling again for the top spot in the Atlantic division.
The best thing the Nets did last off-season was letting Jason Kidd vanish like a fart in the wind. His antics were a stain on the franchise, and New York is not a place where they let things slide. First year coach Lionel Hollins should bring some poise, accountability, and a sense of direction that was lacking in last years version of this team.
The Nets have been underachievers the last two seasons, and will have to step things up. Joe Johnson and Deron Williams are not getting any younger. Moreover, they have to be able to stay on the floor, and play most of the season. Injuries have crippled the Nets chemistry, but that is no excuse in this league.
One more person who needs to stay on the floor is Brook Lopez. He has amazing talent, and could be a dominant big man, if he could stop getting injured. The Nets are the only other team in the Atlantic with good big men. Subsequently, if an aging Kevin Garnett can continue to provide defense, and second year pro Mason Plumlee can continue to develop the Nets may be able to make some noise in the Atlantic.
Knicks fans should be happy that Carmelo Anthony signed, and they will have a star to watch for years to come. Unfortunately it is the only thing to look forward to this season at the Garden. Phil Jackson is a genius, Derek Fisher has a great presence, and maybe one day that will lead to them having great success. However, it won’t be this season.
The Knicks have no defensive front court presence. The addition of a blown up version of Samuel Dalembert will not be the answer down low. Teams will be able to penetrate and post at will against New York. In addition, they are learning a whole new offense (the triangle), and don’t look like they are comfortable with the offense.
There are only a few ways the Knicks can make the playoffs the way the team is constructed. First is if Iman Shumpert remembers how to shoot a basketball and forgets about rapping and winning a Grammy. Second, if J.R. Smith remembers where the court is, and forgets where the club was. Third, if Amare can give you more than 60 games at more than 20 minute per game. Last but not least is if Walt Clyde Frazier and Earl “the pearl” Monroe the “Rolls Royce” backcourt, find the fountain of youth and suit up again for the Knicks.
Sorry for the morbid outlook Knick fans but that roster does not look capable of doing anything major. However, they will finally get a first-round pick this year.
This is another team destined for a long, and dreary season. Rajon Rondo is hurt and who knows when he will return the Celtics back court. The development of Marcus Smart will be exciting to watch for Celtic fans but there will be a ton of growing pains.
Moreover, they have no quality big men, and will struggle to stop players from abusing the paint. Therefore, the only way the Celtics will be able to win games this season is if Jeff Green, and Avery Bradley have amazing shooting nights.
Another bright spot Celtic fans should look forward to will be the advancement of third year center Jared Sullinger. He is the only hope the Celtics have of attaining any respect offensively or defensively in the post.
If your favorite team is in the Atlantic Division and you want to see your team play you may want to go to Philly to watch them. There will be plenty of good seats available at discounted prices because the 76ers will be a lottery team this year.
If you’re a 76ers fan all you want is for Nerlens Noel to look healthy on his repaired knee. You also want 2014 first round pick Joel Embid to get healthy and stay that way, and Michael Carter Williams to continue developing his offensive game.
2014 Win-Loss Predictions
1- Toronto Raptors- 48-34
2- New York Knicks- 38-44
3- Brooklyn Nets- 36-46
4- Boston Celtics- 28-54
5- Philadelphia 76ers- 20-62