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NBA Eastern Conference

Published: November 2, 2007
Section: Sports


As time is of the essence and there are professional predictions of the NBA season out there already, I am offering a look at the Atlantic Division, home of our Boston Celtics (by our Im referring to Waltham, of course) followed by general predictions for the season. Enjoy.

Toronto Raptors: The surprise team last year and they are more than capable of repeating. Andrea Bargnani has a year of NBA ball under his belt and showed continued progress over the course of the season. Chris Bosh is a 20-10 guy a night. They overpaid for Jason Kapono, but if he can continue hitting those threes, then it will be worth it. It all may be for naught though as they await Jorge Garbajosas return from a horrific ankle injury and have to deal with the retooled Celtics. Nonetheless, barring injury, which is scarily realistic with this team, the Raptors should repeat as Atlantic division champions.

Boston Celtics: Fortunes have swung around after a trying season that ended up seeing their futility rewarded with losing out on Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. So rather than build through the draft, GM Danny Ainge dove into the trading market and ended up with Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. While they are an improved team, they do have flaws: the offense will be lead by second year point guard Rajon Rando, the bench depth is weak, though getting Tony Allen back from injury should help, and there are questions on whether Allen will hold up for the season after having surgery in both ankles. While they are not title contenders, they should be the best team in the Atlantic Division.

New York Knicks: The Isiah Thomas era has been a trying one for Knickerbocker faithful and unfortunately, its not going to get any easier. Zach Randolph is good for 20 points and 10 rebounds and could be a menacing inside presence along with Eddy Curry. However, they could just as easily end up in each others way, since they both play essentially the same style and both are nearly useless on defense. This also takes away minutes from David Lee, who can be the Knicks most energizing player. Not much else has changed though Stephon Marbury will get his points, Jamal Crawford will be jacking threes when possible, Quentin Richardson will get hurt and the Knicks wont make the playoffs because they dont have a point guard who can pass or a defensive presence in the paint. Theyll at least score in bunches.

New Jersey Nets: Im going out on a limb and predicting a decline this year. Jason Kidd is 34 and has been dealing with a rather turbulent off-season to say the least. Vince Carter is unfortunately one-dimensional and Richard Jefferson has had two straight injury-plagued years. Getting Nenad Krstic back will help immensely, but the Nets should panic if they have to turn to Jamaal Magloire, who has flunked out of two straight gigs with Milwaukee and Portland. Their division is a weak one though, so it is foolish to count them out, but this could be the beginning of the end of the Jason Kidd glory years.

Philadelphia 76ers: They are rebuilding, no question about it. Andre Iguadola will continue to rise and Andre Miller will provide a mostly steady lead from the point and Kyle Korver is an effective, if overpaid long range shooter. That is about it. You gotta wonder who has it worse the Sixers under Billy King or the Knicks under Thomas.

Postseason East: 1. Chicago Bulls, 2. Toronto Raptors, 3. Washington Wizards, 4. Detroit Pistons, 5. Boston Celtics, 6. Orlando Magic, 7. Miami Heat, 8. Cleveland Cavaliers

Postseason West: 1. Phoenix Suns 2. San Antonio Spurs, 3. Denver Nuggets, 4. Dallas Mavericks, 5. Houston Rockets, 6. Utah Jazz, 7. Memphis Grizzlies, 8. Golden State Warriors

Finals: Detroit v. San Antonio

Champion: San Antonio Spurs