Jan 27, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Toronto Raptors small forward Steve Novak (16) shots over Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams (8) during the third quarter at Barclays Center. Toronto Raptors win 104-103. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking Down the Atlantic Division: Raptors stand strong; Celtics fall

I’ve seen many sites saying the Brooklyn Nets would easily take over the division. Me? Maybe the Nets would, but the Toronto Raptors aren’t going down without a fight. The Raptors and Nets met this last week and the Raptors won. And so, the Raptors are three games ahead of the Nets in the standings. The season series is in the Raptors’ favor, 2-1. The Nets losing that game could cost them in the long run. If the Nets end up tying with the Raptors at the end of the season, the Raptors own that tie-breaker.

Anyway, the division saw each other quite a bit this week. We already talked about the Nets and Raptors. Aw, heck, let’s do a little bullet list dance:

  • Nets-Raptors
  • Sixers-Celtics
  • Sixers-Raptors
  • Nets-Celtics
  • Knicks-Celtics

Okay, now here’s the standings based on record against the division:

  1. Raptors 8-2
  2. Nets 5-4
  3. Sixers 3-5
  4. Celtics 3-5
  5. Knicks 3-6

The Raptors continue to dominate. And only the Nets have a winning record as well. For most of the season, the entire division was under .500. Remember? And so, the leader of the division would be a losing team but still have a top four spot. And, it was sort of undeserving. Well, get this. This past week, the Raptors played well enough that they have actually moved into 3rd place in the East. What’s more is that, even if you did winning percentage over leader of division, the Raptors are still 3rd best in the East.

Sure, the East is weak. If the Raptors were in the West, they would be in 10th place. Ouch. Still, not many people would’ve picked the Raptors to be in control of at least the division at this point in the season so give them credit, as coach Brown would say.

The Sixers beat the Boston Celtics and moved out of last place in the division. I wonder if the Celtics will bring it back. I mean, all of these Rondo trade rumors make me wonder if they actually will trade him off. If so, they are definitely in tank mode. If they keep him, they obviously think he’s still part of what I’m guessing is a future contending core.

Meanwhile, the New York Knicks continue to struggle. I can only wonder if they do make the playoffs. They’ve won three in a row and are only a game behind 8th place Bobcats. I think injuries really did some damage but I also think the roster itself isn’t very good. Healthy, playoffs is a lock. As for contending? No. And don’t get me started on the million rumors over there. Ultimately for this season, I don’t think they win the division. Do they make the playoffs? I think so, but no higher than 6th seed which means most likely early first round exit. But hey, we’re only in January (basically February) so anything can happen.

Here’s a question for you, Sensors: Do the Raptors win the division, or are the Nets or even Knicks eventually take over?

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

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