Many divisions in the NBA have clear-cut favorites, but the Atlantic Division will be among the most competitive in the league. The Heat will win the Southeast and the Lakers will win the Pacific. The Atlantic Division has no such big favorite that will run away with the division. The Celtics had a bit of a rocky ride last year, but they were still good enough to top the division. The Knicks had team chemistry issues, and they barely squeaked into the playoffs. Philadelphia was a nice surprise, and the 76ers played great in the playoffs.
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There will be basketball in Brooklyn this year, and the Nets have made some major upgrades. The teams in the Atlantic Division have a ton of new faces, so bettors shouldn’t just assume this division will play out the way it did last season. This should be one of the most competitive divisions in the NBA this year. Everyone here has a chance to win the division, except for the Toronto Raptors, who should once again be one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference. Here’s a look at each team in order of their finish from the 2011-12 season. All odds listed are from BetOnline.
Boston Celtics (39-27)
2011-2012 ATS & “Over/Under” records: 34-30-2; 28-35-3
2012-2013 over/under wins: 50.5
Odds to win NBA title: +2,100
Odds to win East: +1,000
Odds to win Atlantic: +140
Boston is the oddsmaker favorite again heading into the 2012-13 season. Ray Allen is playing in Miami, and the team will certainly miss his ability to knock down the three-ball. Jeff Green is expected back after missing all of last season with a heart issue. Green’s versatility should help the Celtics on both ends of the floor. Bringing back Kevin Garnett means that the Celtics defense should still be very good. Jared Sullinger is a rookie who will fit into this system well. The Celtics were just one win away from playing for a NBA Championship last year. Still, with Pierce and Garnett becoming less productive each year; the Celtics will likely be slightly less formidable this season.
New York Knicks (36-30)
2011-2012 ATS & O/U records: 36-30; 27-39
2012-2013 over/under wins: 47
Odds to win NBA title: +2,700
Odds to win East: +1,450
Odds to win Atlantic: +200
Mike D’Antoni was run out of New York last year, and the team let Jeremy Lin go during the offseason. “Linsanity” was a lot of fun for a few weeks last season, but the team decided he wasn’t worth the money anymore. Overall, the Knicks were a major disappointment last season. A combination of Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler should be better than 36-30. Team chemistry seems to be a problem for the Knicks every single season. Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton were brought in to share the point guard duties this year. Marcus Camby should help a lot on the defensive end if he can stay healthy. I like Coach Woodson’s emphasis of defense, and I think this team has the potential to be much better this season.
Philadelphia 76ers (35-31)
2011-2012 ATS & O/U records: 33-32-1; 30-36
2012-2013 over/under wins: 45.5
Odds to win NBA title: +5,500
Odds to win East: +2,200
Odds to win Atlantic: +390
Doug Collins did a terrific job with the Philadelphia 76ers last season. The team didn’t have any superstars, but they played hard and won games on the defensive end. Collins will have to do it with a different group of guys this year. Andre Iguodala, Jodie Meeks, Elton Brand, and Lou Williams are all gone. Andrew Bynum was the big pickup of the offseason, and the franchise will have to try to build around him. His health is still a major question, and if Bynum can’t stay healthy it’s hard to see this team being too successful. Jason Richardson gives the team another solid scoring option. Evan Turner will take on a bigger role this year with Iguodala gone, and Jrue Holiday must step up at the point guard spot. There are a lot of unknowns for the 76ers this year.
Toronto Raptors (23-43)
2011-2012 ATS & O/U records: 37-28-1; 26-38-2
2012-2013 over/under wins: 33
Odds to win NBA title: +20,000
Odds to win East: +10,000
Odds to win Atlantic: +7,500
Toronto hoped to get Steve Nash in the offseason, but their big offseason acquisition ended up being Landry Fields. Fields is a decent player, but signing him to a $20 million offer sheet is a very questionable move. Andrea Bargnani is an impressive scorer, but his lack of defense hurts the team. Jonas Valanciunas should make the Raptors defense a little better, but they’ll still be bad. DeMar DeRozan is a pretty good player who can get to the hoop frequently, but he isn’t a guy to build a team around. In the end, what the Raptors will have yet again is a team that isn’t competitive against the best teams in the league.
Brooklyn Nets (22-44)
2011-2012 ATS & O/U records: 28-38; 33-32-1
2012-2013 over/under wins: 44.5
Odds to win NBA title: +2,700
Odds to win East: +1,000
Odds to win Atlantic: +300
Here’s another team that will look a lot different this year. If you are a fan of the Nets, the fact that they’ll look a lot different is definitely a good thing! Last year’s team finished at the bottom of the division, but this year’s unit should be good enough for a playoff berth. Joe Johnson was a major offseason pickup for the team. He’ll give point guard Deron Williams lots of scoring help in the backcourt. A healthy Brook Lopez should do wonders for the Nets frontcourt. Lopez is a Top-5 center in the NBA when healthy. Andray Blatche is a bit of a wild card, but he could prove to be a nice piece down low as well. The Nets have spent a lot of money making this team better. Brooklyn will get to see a quality team in the season ahead.
This is a completely wide-open league, which means I’m definitely not going to pick the favorite here. I think the two best values are the Knicks and the Nets. New York should be better this year, and at +200 I think they are the best play to win the division. With Bynum’s health in question, I think the 76ers will stay under the season win total. I also don’t see how the Celtics will get to 51 wins. I like the over on Brooklyn’s win total. This may be the most exciting division in basketball this year if you are looking for a close race. Look for Boston’s reign at the top of this division to end this year.
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