Atlantic Division Roundup: Nets Shake Things Up

New York 21 9 .700 12-2 9-7 4-1 13-3 102.3 97.0 +5.3 Lost 1 6-4
Brooklyn 16 15 .516 5 ½ 11-7 5-8 6-3 13-8 94.2 94.4 -0.3 Lost 1 4-6
Boston 14 16 .467 7 9-5 5-11 3-4 9-10 95.9 98.1 -2.2 Lost 3 3-7
Philadelphia 14 17 .452 7 ½ 9-7 5-10 4-4 8-10 93.2 95.7 -2.6 Lost 2 2-8
Toronto 11 20 .355 10 ½ 7-5 4-15 0-5 6-8 96.7 99.8 -3.1 Won 2 7-3

This has been a really rough stretch for the Atlantic Division as a whole, as only the Knicks and Raptors are above 500 in their past ten games. The Nets had a coaching change and the Celtics limped through their west coast trip.  Let’s break down what has been going on.

The New York Knicks:
Last Week: 1-2
1. Loss @ LAL 100-94
2. Win @ Phoenix 99-97
3. Loss @ Sacramento 106-105
Upcoming Week: Projected Record: 2-1
1. Tonight vs Portland 7:30
2. Jan 3rd vs. San Antonio 7:30
3. Jan 5th @ Orlando 7:00

The age of this team looks to be catching up to them as injuries have been the major story-line in New York this week. News out of NYC is that PG Raymond Felton will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken finger, leaving Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni to handle the PG duties.  Felton is third on the team in scoring at 15.8 a game and first in assists at 6.2.  His ability to push the tempo and stretch the floor will be sorely missed.  Unfortunately for the Knicks, his injury is not the only one limiting the team right now.  Carmelo Anthony has missed the previous two games with a hyper-extended knee and is expected to miss at least one more.  In his absence JR Smith has been the teams go-to offensive player. In the two games Carmelo missed he scored 28 and 27 respectively.  We’ll need to see how this team responds to being down a floor leader in Felton and how the depth is affected with the above mentioned injuries as well as the injury to backup center Rasheed Wallace, not to mention the reintroduction of Amar’e into the lineup this week.

Brooklyn Nets:
Last Week Games: 2-3
1. Loss vs Boston 93-76
2. Loss @ Milwaikee 108-93
3. Win vs. Charlotte 97-81
4. Win vs Cleveland 103-100
5. Loss @ San Antonio 104-73

Upcoming Games: Projected Record 2-1
1. Jan 2nd @OKC 8:00
2. Jan 4th @ Washington @ 7:00
3. Jan 5th vs. Sacramento 7:30

This team is now solely in the hands of Deron Williams.  I have been all over Deron this year, and rightfully so, as he mixed his poor play with a poor attitude. These weaknesses by Deron have had yet another of his coaches canned, as Johnson followed in the footsteps of the great Jerry Sloan in being outed by the talented point guard.  I think Deron is very skilled, without question his ball handling and ability to create in space is superior, but right now he can’t shoot nor finish at the rim. For the season he continues to struggle, scoring 16.3 points, dishing out 7.5 assists and shooting a horrendous 39.9% from the field.  A franchise player shooting below 40% is an absolute joke, too bad no one in Brooklyn is laughing.  We will know soon what type of makeup this kid has, because, as I mentioned above, it’s his team now more than it has ever been before. God Speed PJ Carlesimo.

Boston Celtics:
Last Weeks Games: 1-3
1. Win @ Brooklyn 93-76
2. Loss @ LAC 106-77
3. Loss @ GSW 101-83
4. Loss @ Sacramento 118-96

Upcoming Games: Projected Record: 1-2
1. Jan 2nd vs. Memphis 7:30
2. Jan 4th vs. Indiana 8:00
3. Jan 5th @ Atlanta 7:00

The Celtics got absolutely dominated by the teams of California this week, losing by a combined 65 points in their three games.  Rajon Rondo, who missed the Warriors game with a bruised hip, looked over matched facing rival Chris Paul (those two do not get along) and was underwhelming in his return against Sacramento.  This team relies on his energy and his ability to either create for himself or others, neither of which he did on this Cali trip. The impending return of Wilcox and Bradley, both of whom run the floor well with Rondo should snap him out of this funk.  The lone bright spot for the C’s has been the outstanding play of Jared Sullinger.  The rookie  had averged 9 points and 7 rebounds over his last 5 outings, but it was energy and effort that were the real bright spots.  if he continues to play at a high level, Brandon Bass will become expendable.  For more on the Celtics, please read fellow Senior Blogger Evan Javel’s piece, posted below the Atlantic Division roundup.

Philadelphia 76ers:
Last Weeks Games:
1. Win @ Memphis 99-89
2. Loss @ GSW 96-89
3. Loss @ Portland 89-85

Upcoming Games: Projected Record:  1-3
1. Tonight @ LAL 10:30
2. Jan 2nd @ Phoenix 9:00
3. Jan 4th @ OKC 8:00
4. Jan 5th @ San Antonio 8:30

I will admit that this team has had one of the toughest schedule over the past few weeks, but there performance is completely unacceptable.  Once thought of as an early season success story, this team looks lost on the court recently.  They lack a go-to scorer, and while he has showed flahes, Evan Turner does not look ready in any way to be that guy.  Jrue Holiday continues to play well scoring nearly 19 a game on 45% shooting, but is lacking a good partner for the pick and roll/pop game that is necessary for all teams to be able to run.  Thaddeus Young is the only player shooting over 50% on the team and no other player scoring over 7 points a game is shooting over 45% except for center Spencer Hawes who is shooting a pedestrian 45% (45% for a guard is acceptable, for a center it is poor).  This team just need Andrew Bynum back, they are hard to watch with their current makeup.  BRICK HOUSES ARE BEING BUILT EVERY NIGHT BY THIS TEAM.

Toronto Raptors:
Last Weeks Games: 2-1
1. Loss @ San Antonio 100-80
2. Win @ New Orleans 104-97 OT
3. Win @ Orlando 123-88

Upcoming Games: Projected Record 1-2
1. Jan 2nd vs. Portland 7:00
2. Jan 4th vs. Sacramento 7:00
3. Jan 6th OKC 1:00

This team continues to play extremely well.  Despite a lot of early season criticism, this team has showed poise and ability to create for one another.  DeMar Derozan has looked excellent in the past couple weeks, showing flashes of the star that could be.  Ed Davis continues to be an excellent glue guy, attacking the glass  and providing great energy. The great news in Toronto is that Kyle Lowry has not only returned to action from his injuury, but he has played really well in his two games since coming back. He has averaged 16.5 points, and 7 assists all while shooting an torrid 58%. With Lowry back in the fold, I think this team can continue to make moves up the east, possibly catching Phili in the next week or two. The Raptors have been the best team in the Atlantic over the past 10 games!


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