NBA Predictions: Atlantic Division

The Atlantic Division is without the best division in the Eastern Conference going into the 2019-2020 NBA season. The teams in the Atlantic made the best moves of any division in the East and its not even close. The Philadelphia 76ers, although they lost Jimmy Butler to free agency, were able to sign Al Horford, trade for Josh Richardson, and re-sign Tobias Harris. Brooklyn Nets made a splash in free agency signing Kevin Durant, Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan. The Boston Celtics acquired Kemba Walker in a sign and trade while also signing Enes Kanter. Although the Toronto Raptors lost Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to free agency, they got two decent pickups in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley while keeping the remaining pieces to the core of their championship roster intact. Even the New York Knicks, who are clearly the weakest team in the division, made some decent moves signing Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Elfrid Payton, Taj Gibson and Marcus Morris in free agency. This will be one of the most interesting division to watch in the 2019-2020 season not only to see who wins the division, but to see how the new acquisitions play in their new destinations. So let’s get to it here are my predictions for the Atlantic division!

Philadelphia 76ers: 56-26

I just can’t get over how the Philadelphia 76ers got eliminated from the playoffs by the Toronto Raptors. It was so heartbreaking but man what an amazing shot by Kawhi Leonard. But enough about that I’m not trying to open up old wounds let’s talk about why I have them winning the Atlantic division. While I do not think the 76ers made the most flashy moves during the offseason, they made some very effective moves. I liked the 76ers acquiring Al Horford and re-signing Tobias Harris as it gives them arguably the best starting frontcourt. Trading for Josh Richardson was also a very good move as it gives them some more athleticism in their backcourt and a solid backcourt partner for Ben Simmons. The one area where I expect the Sixers to struggle is where they have always struggled which is shooting. Other than that I have the Sixers winning the Atlantic division and a top two seed in the East.

Brooklyn Nets: 51-31

Even with the prospect of recent free agent signing Kevin Durant missing the entire 2019-2020 season, I can see the Nets finishing second in the Atlantic division and winning 50+ games. Led by D’Angelo Russell, the Nets last season played very well last season going 42-40 making the postseason for the first time in four years. This offseason, the Nets got significantly better signing top free agents Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan as well as signing Wilson Chandler, Garrett Temple and trading for Taurean Prince. The only thing keeping the Nets from being a contender this season is health. In addition to Durant, Kyrie Irving has struggled to remain healthy in his career as it has caused him to miss playoff series’ with the Cavaliers and Celtics respectively. If Irving is able to remain healthy this season, with or without KD returning this season, I think the Nets are for sure a top four team in the East.

Boston Celtics: 50-32

Last season was not a good one for the Boston Celtics as they played well below expectations given to them. Following a season where they took the LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, many looked at them as championship contenders with LeBron James now in the Western Conference with the Lakers. Unfortunately, that was not the case for the Celtics as last season saw them lose the edge they had in the ’17-’18 season. They won six less games in the regular season and were defeated in the second round by the Milwaukee Bucks the same team they beat in the first round the previous year. This offseason saw some big changes to the Celtics roster as they lost Kyrie Irving and Al Horford via free agency and Terry Rozier via sign and trade. They filled those spots with longtime Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter and undrafted big Tacko Fall. I expect the new additions for the Celtics to play well and back bounce from what was a disappointing ’18-’19 campaign playing more inspired basketball than they did last season

Toronto Raptors: 48-34

Unfortunately, for the Toronto Raptors, their chances of repeating as NBA champions were all but diminished when Kawhi Leonard decided to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. However, that does not mean that the Raptors will not have a good season and that they won’t make the postseason. The Raptors still have a very good roster led by All-Star Kyle Lowry, reigning Most Improved Player Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, Norman Powell and OG Anunoby. Although their offseason additions were not Earth shattering, they were solid additions to make up for the loss of Kawhi at the small forward position. I can see the Raptors competing with the Heat, Celtics and Nets for a top four playoff seed in the East with the talent on their roster.

New York Knicks: 33-49

I think we all know that this offseason was not a very good one for the New York Knicks. They failed to get the number one pick in the draft, like many thought they could, so that means they missed out on the Zion Williamson sweepstakes. Then came free agency when every top free agent that the “experts” said were thinking of joining the Knicks didn’t. Kyrie Irving: nope, Kevin Durant: nope, Jimmy Butler: nope, I could keep going but I think I made my point. However, that does not mean the Knicks did not have a good offseason because they did. They drafted R.J. Barrett with the fourth overall pick, and they picked up Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Marcus Morris, Elfrid Payton and Taj Gibson in free agency. That being said, they are not going to be very good this season or any season going. They have some talented players but I don’t think they will be good enough to be in playoff contention.


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