Dec 23, 2012; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson (7) dribbles against Philadelphia 76ers forward Evan Turner (12) during the second half at the Barclays Center. The Nets won the game 95-92. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking Down the Atlantic Division: 12/20-12/26

Another week of Atlantic basketball and we see that this division isn’t as strong as I thought it would be but it still very competitive. There’s still no clear winner of the division.

Knicks

Knicks sit on top of the division and have been here for most of the season. They had a fast start but have cooled recently and lead only by 6 games. I say that because the Knicks have had an even bigger lead over second place. I do expect the Knicks to fall closer to second as the season goes on. This week they went 2-2 with losses to the Lakers and Bulls while beating the Suns and Timberwolves. This was a close week as they won by a combined 5 points and lost by a combined 10 points with an overall loss of 5 points.

This upcoming week has only two games vs the Trail Blazers and Kings; both winnable games. So I expect a solid 2-0. They will be without Raymond Felton though, due to an injury he suffered against the Lakers. Carmelo Anthony missed time because he got injured against the Lakers too but he should be good to go. Felton, however could be out for at least a month for a fractured pinkie.

Celtics

The Knicks have a solid hold for first but 2nd place is a battle between the Celtics, Nets, and Sixers who are all just 1 game apart. Celtics had only two games this week and got Buck’d in Boston and then blew out the Nets. Celtics have looked like they won’t making another appearance in the Conference Finals but we’ll see come March and April. If they still don’t turn it on, the run may be over.

This week promises to be tough for the C’s as they have 3 straight on the road (4 overall starting with their win over the Nets). It still has nothing on what the Sixers are going through but they visit the Clippers, Warriors, and Kings. So it’s basically a trip to California. Enjoy the sun. Then they return home to face the Grizzlies. I see a loss to the hot Clippers while a toss-up vs the Warriors. They had better beat the imploding Kings and I actually think they beat the Grizzlies.

Nets

Well the Nets are just a half game behind the Celtics and if they play their best, they could pass them during the week. This past week we already heard about the loss to the Celtics. They also beat the Sixers while getting blown out by the Bucks. So they got Buck’d as well. Sixers have been Buck’d earlier. Okay I think I’m done Bucking around.

Nets need to bounce back this week but it won’t be easy. First the Bobcats. Nets should win that. Then ya got Cavaliers. Eh, I think they win that. Next two games though are Spurs and Thunder. I wanna see the Spurs game only because of the color scheme. Wonder if that game would feel gloomy. Anyway, I happen to think the Nets beat one of those teams. If they are legit then they will win at least one of the those games.

Sixers

Sixers continue to trek on without their star Center. But, they look good. I am also convinced that they play to the level of their opponents too often. But, this week was a good week after recovering from a 5 game losing streak by blowing out the Hawks in the second half and then losing a close one vs the Nets. We then saw them pretty much shock the Grizzlies by handing the Grizzlies their 3rd home loss of the season. Grizzlies in recent years have definitely used the home court advantage and I consider them one of the best home teams in the NBA. Plus, recent visits to Memphis have not been so well including one particular game where the Sixers literally gave the game away. It ranks in the top 10 worst Sixers losses since I started watching them in 2000.

This week they continue the road trip. I fear that success is coming to an end as they face the Warriors and Blazers as well as the Lakers and Suns. Last season, the Sixers actually had their way vs the Warriors blowing them out twice. Blazers are just a very good team although they have what many folks are considering the ROY already in Damien Lillard. Odd name. You’ve got the Lakers who are playing better since the last time these teams met. You also got the Suns, a team the Sixers did manage to beat, but barely. If they play with the same intensity as they did vs the Grizzlies, they should go at least 2-2 this week.

Raptors

We cannot forget the Raptors. They are the worst team in this division and right now they are close to the bottom of the NBA. But, I still feel like this team is a team to watch. This past week saw them play in a predictable manner by beating fellow bad team Magic and then getting blown out by a very good Spurs team. This upcoming week is somewhat easy to predict too. They face 3 teams who may end up in the lottery: Hornets, Magic, and Blazers. Magic avenge thier previous meeting while Raptors manage to beat the Hornets and lose to the Blazers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them lose all 3 games.

So we don’t have any inner division battles this week. I can see the Sixers moving up a spot as the Nets drop. I think Celtics stay where they are. Of course, Knicks and Raptors will hold their spots.

Tags: Boston Celtics Brooklyn Nets New York Knicks Philadelphia 76ers Toronto Raptors

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