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NBA Atlantic Division Preview

NBA Atlantic Division Preview

NBA Atlantic Division Preview
By Steve Merril

The Atlantic Division is one of the most wide-open groups in the NBA, giving some true value to those preseason futures odds. Take a look and why and why not to bet these five teams and get our NBA expert's pick for each clubs' season win total.

Boston Celtics (2011-12: 39-27 SU, 34-30-2 ATS)

Odds to win division: +165
Season win total: 51.5

Why to bet the Celtics: Boston has the premier point guard in the NBA with Rajon Rondo. The Celtics go as he goes, and as long as he stays healthy this team is dangerous. Boston still has veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and they added 3-point specialist Jason Terry.

Why not to bet the Celtics: Age. Aside from Rondo, the Celtics main contributors are 36 (Garnett), 35 (Terry), and 34 (Pierce). They wore down noticeably last season despite the shortened schedule and going back to 82 games this year will be a major challenge for Doc Rivers to keep his guys fresh for the playoffs.

Season win total pick: Under 51.5

Brooklyn Nets (2011-12: 22-44 SU, 28-38-0 ATS)

Odds to win division: +350
Season win total: 43.5

Why to bet the Nets: Brooklyn has a deep roster with quality depth at every position. The Nets will be an explosive offensive team led by the backcourt duo of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. The Nets also have Brook Lopez inside, who is one of the league’s best low-post scorers.

Why not to bet the Nets: Defense. The Nets will have to out-score their opponents to win this season. Avery Johnson is a defensive-minded coach, but Brooklyn is loaded with veteran guys who have proven to be offense first. Those guys will also need time to adjust to their new teammates and new system.

Season win total pick: Under 43.5

New York Knicks (2011-12: 36-30 SU, 27-39-0 ATS)

Odds to win division: +240
Season win total: 45.5

Why to bet the Knicks: New York finally has the depth it’s longed for. The Knicks don’t need to rely heavily on their starting unit so they should be a fresher team late in games. The Knicks seemed to play hard for head coach Mike Woodson when he took over last season, so they should do the same from the get-go.

Why not to bet the Knicks: Chemistry. Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire are not a good fit. And now the Knicks have a completely revamped roster coming into this season with the additions of Marcus Camby, Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas, and Rasheed Wallace. The one variable they all have is old age - four of those five guys are 38 or older.

Season win total pick: Under 45.5

Philadelphia 76ers (2011-12: 35-31 SU, 33-32-1 ATS)

Odds to win division: +400
Season win total: 47.5

Why to bet the 76ers: Philadelphia was an exciting team to watch last season, especially after it changed to an up-tempo offense. The 76ers are a youthful team and they’ve added two more offensive weapons in Jason Richardson, who will start, and Nick Young off the bench. Andrew Bynum gives Philadelphia a big guy in the paint which should help Spencer Hawes’ production.

Why not to bet the 76ers: Losses. Philadelphia traded Andre Iguodala and they lost Lou Williams to free agency. Iguodala and Williams were the 76ers best players last season, so now they must rely on newcomers (Bynum, Richardson, and Young) to catch on quickly to a new system. It’s going to take some time and bettors really don’t know if the pieces are going to fit together.

Season win total pick: Under 47.5

Toronto Raptors (2011-12: 23-43 SU, 28-38-0 ATS)

Odds to win division: +8,000
Season win total: 31.5

Why to bet the Raptors: Toronto has just 43 wins to 103 losses over the last two seasons. That alone creates plenty of value and the Raptors have some potential. They will be changing their offensive philosophy to more of an up-tempo team. Head coach Dwane Casey is well respected, and if the Raptors don’t forget to play defense, they will be much improved.

Why not to bet the Raptors: Turnovers. With Toronto changing the way they play, there are going to be some growing pains. There’s going to be sloppy play and reports out of training camp say the Raptors are “throwing the ball all over the gym.” Until they get into rhythm, Toronto’s defense will suffer because of their offense.

Season win total pick: Over 31.5

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Re: NBA Atlantic Division Preview

Atlantic Division Preview
By: Bovada Sportsbook

With no clear cut favorite to win the division and four legitimate contenders, the battle for the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division is projected to be one of the most exciting of the 2012-13 NBA season. Can any of those contenders take it to the next level and compete for the Eastern Conference or NBA Title? Here’s a breakdown of the Atlantic Division heading into the new season.

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Boston and Brooklyn are the early favorites

Last year’s Atlantic Division champions, the Boston Celtics, enter the 2012-13 season as the favorites to win the division. They are currently going off at 20/1 to win the NBA Championship and 8/1 to win the Eastern Conference. After coming just one game short of upsetting the Miami Heat in the Conference Finals last season, the Celtics hope to prove that they are still among the NBA’s elite.

Ray Allen is gone, but the Celtics return their strong core of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo. Jeff Green is back in top shape after missing last season and leads an impressive bench that also features Jason Terry and Jared Sullinger. Courtney Lee enters the picture to replace Ray Allen at shooting guard. The Celtics’ bench is impressive and makes them a legitimate postseason threat, but the season relies on Rajon Rondo staying healthy. Boston was 39-27 straight up and 34-31-1 against the NBA basketball odds last season.

Last year, the New Jersey Nets finished 22-44 SU and 27-38-1 ATS. This year, things are expected to be much different as the team moves to Brooklyn. The Nets (30/1 to win the NBA Championship, 12/1 to win the East) retained Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, and Brook Lopez this offseason and added all-star guard Joe Johnson. If everything clicks, the talent is there for a quick turnaround.

Philadelphia and New York also look to factor in

After getting out to a great start last season, the Philadelphia 76ers faded a bit down the stretch and finished the season 35-31 SU and 34-32 on the NBA basketball moneyline. Deciding it was time to re-tool, Philadelphia made a big trade this offseason shipping out Andre Iguodala and bringing in Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson.

There will be an adjustment period for the 76ers, but Bynum on raw talent alone is arguably the best big man in the Eastern Conference with Dwight Howard off to Los Angeles. If Bynum flourishes out of the shadow of Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, the future could be now for the 76ers (40/1 to win the Championship, 18/1 to win the East).

Jeremy Lin is gone, but the New York Knicks (40/1 to win the Championship, 12/1 to win the East) still have the talent to compete. Raymond Felton returns at point guard and will have plenty to work with with New York’s talented front court featuring Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and Tyson Chandler. If everyone stays healthy, the Knicks could improve on last year’s 36-30 SU and ATS record.

The Toronto Raptors don’t figure to be involved in the division race (200/1 to win the Championship, 100/1 to win the East), but were a strong dog last season finishing 37-28-1 ATS despite a 23-43 SU record. The Raptors were especially strong on the road in 2011-12 with a 20-13 SU road record.

Looking at the big picture in the East

While it should be a dogfight to win the Atlantic Division, the winner of the Eastern Conference will still have to get through the Miami Heat, who could be even stronger this season with the addition of Ray Allen.

While Philadelphia, New York, and Brooklyn are all good enough to compete for the division and a playoff spot, Boston is likely the only team strong enough to win the East. Falling just one game short last year, the Celtics have the bench to compete with just about anyone in a seven-game series. With that said, keep an eye on Philadelphia; if Andrew Bynum has a career year, not many teams have a center that can handle him at his best.

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Re: NBA Atlantic Division Preview

Atlantic Division Preview


2011-12 SU record: 50-36 SU (58.1%), 9th in NBA
2011-12 ATS record: 44-42 ATS (51.2%), 14th in NBA
Odds to Win 2012-13 Eastern Conference: 6-to-1
Odds to Win 2012-13 NBA Championship: 12-to-1


This offense now belongs to Rajon Rondo, and that should be especially true during the regular season . . . Even if he comes off the bench, Jason Terry figures to see the bulk of the minutes at shooting guard. He provides some much-needed outside shooting after Ray Allen left and should challenge Paul Pierce for the team lead in shot attempts . . . Adding Courtney Lee was more of a move for the future. He's a fine young second-unit player for now and should be an heir apparent on one of the wings . . . Avery Bradley could be out until December after shoulder surgery. As Boston's best defensive player, he could reclaim his starting job in the season's second half.


Paul Pierce quietly had a great regular season last year. Though with some improved depth behind him, Rivers might have his 35-year-old All-Star wing rest more often . . . Brandon Bass gives them another scoring option, even if he does struggle on the defensive end. He'll get full-time minutes only in certain matchups as long as the frontcourt is healthy . . . Jeff Green's heart condition is no longer a concern, but the tweener's role in Boston after a year off is cause for worry . . . There are already question marks surrounding rookie Jared Sullinger's back. He's very similar to Bass: He can score out to mid-range but doesn't play much defense. Expect him to be strictly a second-unit player in his first NBA season . . . Chris Wilcox will provide fouls off the bench when healthy.


The Celtics are prepared to go with Kevin Garnett in the middle, which was the case when they were at their best last season. His role on offense is still knocking down mid-range jumpers, and he's still an elite defensive player . . . Professional flopper Jason Collins will fill in nicely for the departed Greg Stiemsma . . . Fab Melo is years away from being ready to contribute (if he actually is ever ready to contribute) and Darko Milicic was also added via free agency for more frontcourt depth.


2011-12 SU record: 22-44 SU (33.3%), T-25th in NBA
2011-12 ATS record: 27-37-2 ATS (42.2%), 28th in NBA
Odds to Win 2012-13 Eastern Conference: 20-to-1
Odds to Win 2012-13 NBA Championship: 50-to-1

Deron Williams is healthy and got a much-improved supporting cast to work with. He could re-enter the NBA's best point guard discussion . . . Joe Johnson won't have the ball in his hands as much as he used to in Atlanta. It might give him a chance to concentrate on regaining his stroke as one of the NBA's best shooters . . . Marshon Brooks will look to settle in as a high-scoring sixth man. He'll be trade bait for most of the season . . . After a disastrous year in Chicago, C.J. Watson will be asked to spell Williams for a few minutes a night . . . Keith Bogans is still kicking around as a second unit glue guy . . . Tyshawn Taylor is an at-times out-of-control combo guard, but the rookie could threaten Watson's role at some point.


Kris Humphries' contract was structured to make him easier to trade. He'll rebound and get his put-backs, and the Nets will likely showcase him a bit . . . Gerald Wallace is slowing down, and now that he's signed his last big NBA contract he might not have much incentive to live up to his "Crash" nickname. Brooklyn has no choice but to give him heavy minutes considering their investment . . . Mirza Teletovic is a veteran stretch four. Consider him a penniless man's Channing Frye . . . Tornike Shengelia played himself into a roster spot this summer. He's a mediocre athlete, but a cagey scorer with a high basketball IQ . . . Josh Childress and Jerry Stackhouse were added in September for depth . . . REGGIE EVANS will flop unconvincingly, punch opponents in the jewels and bring other "tough guy" intangibles.


Brook Lopez had been remarkably durable before last year's foot injury, and he should be fully healed by the start of training camp. He's gifted offensively, but will continue to grab relatively few rebounds and generally get fried defensively. He's also a candidate to be traded midseason if another franchise can stomach his max contract . . . As insurance, former Wizards big man Andray Blatche was brought in. He could be the team's best interior defender, able to play either the four or five spot.


2011-12 SU record: 37-34 SU (52.1%), 14th in NBA
2011-12 ATS record: 36-33-2 ATS (52.2%), 11th in NBA
Odds to Win 2012-13 Eastern Conference: 20-to-1
Odds to Win 2012-13 NBA Championship: 40-to-1


Raymond Felton will start at the point, which seems like a colossal mistake. He had his career year in New York under Mike D'Antoni, but the Knicks have gone away from the pick-and-roll system he thrived in . . . Don't be surprised if Jason Kidd is overtaking Felton in minutes played by midseason. He's limited athletically but still a heady passer . . . Resident chucker J.R. Smith should see big minutes early before Iman Shumpert steps in as the defense half of their shooting guard platoon as soon as his knee is recovered mid-season . . . Ronnie Brewer will be Smith's defensive complement while Shumpert is out . . . Pablo Prigioni is a game manager who provides insurance at the point.


This is once again Carmelo Anthony's team, as the Knicks will run their offense through him. It's going to be a lot of iso, and a lot of scoring opportunities for Melo . . . Amar'e Stoudemire doesn't fit nearly as well in this system as he did in former coach Mike D'Antoni's. He ended up forcing a lot of shots a year ago, and his durability is a major question mark . . . Steve Novak will continue to come off the bench strictly as a three-point shooter. He's one of the best long-range bombers in the NBA, but he's too much of a defensive liability to play more than 20 minutes per night . . . Swingman James White will also get some minutes at the two or three spots with his 6-foot-7 frame. . . Chris Copeland had some solid years overseas, but will be lucky to break into this rotation . . . Kurt Thomas is in player/coach mode.


Tyson Chandler is indispensible on the defensive end as long as sieves Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire are also in the frontcourt . . . Marcus Camby can't defend in space like Chandler can, but his ability to rebound and protect the rim will come in handy as the second unit is no better defensively than the starters . . . Rasheed Wallace came out of retirement, but has a long way to go, especially with his lack of conditioning, before he contributes much at age 38.


2011-12 SU record: 42-37 SU (53.2%), 13th in NBA
2011-12 ATS record: 41-38 ATS (51.9%), 12th in NBA
Odds to Win 2012-13 Eastern Conference: 10-to-1
Odds to Win 2012-13 NBA Championship: 30-to-1


Jrue Holiday is knocking on the door of All-Star status. He's excellent defensively, though his stats sometimes sag because of Philly's deliberate style . . . Jason Richardson gives them some shooting on the wing, but may see his minutes fade if he can't play the kind of defense Collins demands . . . Swingman Evan Turner is an intriguing but flawed player. He doesn't quite have the offensive repertoire to be a primary scorer, and he'll continue to get inconsistent minutes as Collins plays to matchups on the wings . . . Nick Young will have something of a lesser sixth-man role than Lou Williams used to have . . . As an offensively-limited but athletic, defensive-minded guard, ROYAL IVEY is the kind of bench player Collins looks for.


Even with Elton Brand gone, Thaddeus Young will play more of a part-time role. Collins has never seemed satisfied with his talented young 'tweener, and Spencer Hawes is expected to slide to the four alongside Andrew Bynum . . . Dorrell Wright brings some much needed shooting on the wing. He plays the kind of defense Collins demands and, if his shot is on, he should be close to a 30-MPG player despite his struggles in Golden State last season . . . Lavoy Allen is a serviceable reserve big. He'll see few minutes off the bench unless Bynum gets hurt . . . Arnett Moultrie fits the Sixers mold as an athlete. He could be a regular in the rotation by midseason.


Maybe Andrew Bynum will be happier moving back to the east coast. As long as his knees hold up, he's an All-Star lock . . . Spencer Hawes will actually play a lot of four this year. He's an offensively-capable 7-footer who's also become a much better rebounder over the past couple seasons . . . Kwame Brown will be sparingly used as a big body who can move on the defensive end.


2011-12 SU record: 23-43 SU (34.8%), T-23rd in NBA
2011-12 ATS record: 36-28-2 ATS (56.2%), 3rd in NBA
Odds to Win 2012-13 Eastern Conference: 50-to-1
Odds to Win 2012-13 NBA Championship: 100-to-1


Kyle Lowry is healthy again and will be handed the reigns. He could be the Raptors best player on both ends of the floor . . . As of now, Jose Calderon is still on the roster, but he's not long for Toronto with Lowry's arrival. He won't start over Lowry, but he could see decent minutes as the Raptors attempt to showcase him . . . With Toronto's influx of new talent, DeMar DeRozan could be marginalized on the offensive end. He hasn't really progressed past the dunker/raw athlete stage of his career . . . Rookie Terrence Ross can just about match DeRozan's athleticism, and while he has no handle, he's a potentially deadly three-point threat . . . John Lucas III will back up both guard spots . . . Alan Anderson returns as a defensive stopper in the second unit.


Andrea Bargnani makes his triumphant return and will likely go back to the perimeter. The Raptors have beefed up in the middle so Bargnani can play outside more . . . Landry Fields plays enough defense to earn minutes, but it seems like his signing was more a result of Toronto playing cap games to try to land Steve Nash. He'll likely platoon with Terrence Ross . . . Ed Davis made some strides this offseason, but he's still not where the Raptors want him to be on the offensive end . . . Linas Kleiza's knee should be in better shape this season. The Raptors want more shooting, and he has a chance to grab a bigger role . . . Toronto will do everything it can to get out from under Amir Johnson's contract . . . Dominic McGuire figures to occupy the final seat on the Raptors bench.


Jonas Valanciunas would have been the No. 2 pick of the draft had he come out a year later. He's a wiry, strong athlete who's physical down low with soft touch out to 10 feet. Toronto sees him as a franchise cornerstone who meshes nicely with Bargnani . . . Aaron Gray should provide ample competition for the starting center job.

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