After a pitiful 33-49 season, Colangelo replaced two starters, the first five guys off the bench, and 2 of the last 5 at the end of it. Two make things more interesting, we have a “rookie” head-coach who has to integrate all these parts while trying to get this team into the playoffs, and possibly beyond. They are a better team then last season, but with 16 games against their Atlantic rivals, I wondered how I had them going 11-5 against the Atlantic.

Boston Celtics

My Prediction: 0-4
Nov – Fri 27 @ Boston L
Jan – Sat 02 @ Boston L
Jan – Sun 10 vs Boston L
Apr – Wed 07 vs Boston L

Easily the cream of the crop of the Atlantic, and quite possibly the East (I still contend that if they were healthy last year, they would have won it all). The Raptors were 0-4 against them last season, and I expect the same this year. The Raps will struggle with Boston’s size up front, it’s not as though foul-prone Johnson is rounding out an elite Raptors front court. If they can counter that front court somehow (which they will have a very hard time with considering the Celtics just replaced Leon Powe with Rasheed Wallace), they still have to figure out what to do with Pierce and Allen. Excuse me if I don’t like our chances.

New Jersey Nets

My Prediction: 4-0
Dec – Fri 18 vs New Jersey W
Feb – Wed 03 vs New Jersey W
Feb – Fri 19 @ New Jersey W
Mar – Sat 20 @ New Jersey W

I have a feeling the Nets are going to be an interesting team. Thy don’t have a whole lot surrounding Harris, Lopez and Lee, but looking at this roster, they seem like a tough lot who is sure to be a well coached one. The Raptors were 2-2 against them last season, but in those two losses, VC had 39 and 27 points respectively. That first loss of the year was the gut wrenching one where VC sent the game into OT with a clutch trey then won it with that reverse alley-oop…we wont have to worry about him doing to that to us with the Nets, the Magic get that honour now. Anyways, they have no one that will give us any trouble, and we sure as hell can’t afford to lose even one game against them if we have post-season designs.

New York Knicks

My Prediction: 4-0
Jan – Fri 15 @ New York W
Jan – Thu 28 @ New York W
Mar – Fri 05 vs New York W
Apr – Wed 14 vs New York W

They will score in bunches and be exciting to watch, but wont be very much better then the 32 wins they got last season. The David Lee situation has not been resolved as of today (to my knowledge), which is a disaster as he has been one of their best/most consistent players over the last few years. Jordan Hill brings much needed size/toughness, but the only way the Knicks beat the Raptors this season is if they score loads and it comes down to a coaching battle. In any event, they can’t be slept on, they have the type of team that can get hot and run you off the court, but that will be few and far between. The Raptors went 2-2 against them last season, but have improved athletically and and bulked up. I have a feeling the Knicks will be worst team in the Atlantic.

Philadelphia 76ers

My Prediction: 3-1
Jan – Fri 08 @ Philadelphia W
Feb – Wed 10 vs Philadelphia W
Mar – Sun 07 vs Philadelphia W
Apr – Sat 03 @ Philadelphia L

They lost Andre Miller, signed a gangster and replaced Cheeks with Jordan. Forgive me if I don’t get too excited for them. I don’t follow the Sixers too closely, but for a team that went .500 last season, got the 6th seed in the playoffs, and took Orlando to 6 games, they sure as hell regressed (IMHO) this past summer. It’s not all bad for them. They went to the playoffs last year, have a slew of talented young wings that can get hot and give folks fits on the perimeter and a healthy Brand. Philly will be nipping at the Raptors heels, and be one of the middle-tier teams in the East fighting for the 5-8 playoff spots (the Hawks have 4 locked up, especially with the addition of Joe Smith up front). Each game against these guys will be a very important one, as the Raptors and Sixers will be neck-in-neck in that playoff hunt. They split the season series last season.

Boston aside, I have the Raptors going 11-1 against the Knicks, Nets and Sixers. Seems very ambitious, but if the Raptors want the 4th seed (which they wont get), they have beat these type of teams each and every time they play them. Even going 7-4 against them – and they steal one against the Celtics, drops them to 42 wins in my scenario, which will probably get them into the playoffs kicking/scratching/clawing and screaming, but with a 7th or 8th seeding.

Boston Celtics – 60+ wins
Toronto Raptors – 45 wins
Philadelphia 76ers – 40 or so wins
New York Knicks – 32 or so wins
New Jersey Nets – 30 or so wins
* please note, I had accidentally switched the Knicks and the Nets predictions, apologies.

That’s how I see the Atlantic shaping up this year.

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