The NBA Dribbled Out

Atlantic Division Preview*

New York Knicks

Over/Under 45 1/2 - UNDER

I just don’t like this Knicks team. I don’t like what’s happening with Amare’s body. I don’t like Melo’s smug expression when he scores a bucket after 400 pump fakes, 20 seconds of the shot clock, and with his team down by 17 points. I don’t like all the Nets gear I’m seeing around Brooklyn. I don’t like J.R. Smith’s petulance about coming off the bench. I don’t like Tyson Chandler’s knee. I don’t like Marcus Camby’s birth certificate. I don’t like what Rasheed Wallace smells like after a lone wind sprint. I don’t like what Jason Kidd smells like when he’s driving home after a home win. I don’t like how much Knicks fans are looking forward to Iman Shumpert coming back. I don’t like Raymond Felton’s penchant for kit kats. I don’t like Steve Novak’s ability to stay in front of his man. I like Ronnie Brewer. I loathe James Dolan. I am a Knicks fan, hear my ro—ahh forget it. 

Brooklyn Nets

Over/Under 44 1/2 - UNDER

I wrote about the Nets for Sports Grid, but their site is down, so I’ll try and focus on why their team’s current collection of players displeases me so much, and why they’re bound to disappoint the local denizens in my neighborhood. 

They can’t play defense. Like, at all. Brook Lopez is the worst rebounder/defender in the world. I’m also including all the other 7-footers that aren’t in the NBA. He’s that bad. Maybe I’m giving him too hard a time, but someone has to. Luckily for Brooklynites, Prokhorov doesn’t give a crap how much money he spends, so the fact the new-look Nets have committed over a hundred million dollars to Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries and perpetual underachiever, Joe Johnson, doesn’t matter. 

Deron Williams is the fuclrum of this team. If he’s back to Utah Jazz form, and also svelte (something I didn’t see in preseason), he could be good enough to get this team to the second round of the playoffs. If not, they’ll struggle to make the playoffs, where they’ll barely manage to win a playoff game. It’s just about the same as my Knicks, but with a lot more hype. Spike Lee still sits at the Garden, for the record. 

Boston Celtics 

Over/Under 50 1/2 - OVER

I’m watching them right now, and they’re the second best team in the east and possibly the second best team in the league. They’re playing Miami tough, and if Rondo ever figures out how he can pull up whenever he wants for an open jumper, then they could become impossible to stop. 

Right now, Pierce is healthy, Garnett is healthy, and they’re both pissed at Ray Allen. They live for this ish, and you know the war of words between Rondo and Allen after Allen’s departure to South Beach, is going to be on everyone’s mind all season. It is tonight for sure. I’m looking forward to Chuck at halftime to weight in on all the bullshit from the off-season. 

But back to the Celtics. Courtney Lee and Jason Terry were really important pickups in the off-season. Once Avery Bradley gets back in shape and on the court, they’re gonna be re-tooled to take another run at Miami’s superstars. Rondo has the attitude every Bostonian likes to see when they play ‘Bron and Co. and everyone is just waiting to see a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference Finals. I don’t see anything to stop either team from getting there. 

Philadelphia 76ers

Over/Under 45 1/2 - UNDER

Ughhh. My sister’s fiance is from Pennsylvania and since they live in Philaldelphia’s hip, Northern Liberties area, they’re of course Sixers fans. Thankfully, Andrew Bynum has successfully ended the Sixers-Knicks debate that rages between us. I don’t like the Knicks, but I dislike them less than I do Andrew Bynum. He has shown absolutely zero indications he’s got the heart, hustle and head to be the best player on a serious playoff team. 

Losing Lou Williams’ offense and Elton Brand’s defense doesn’t help, either. Sure, Jrue Holiday, is young and getting better, but he’s still pretty bad at dribble-driving to the bucket and has a tendency to flit around the perimeter all game, unless defenders fly out at him after doubling down low (which, without Bynum, prolly won’t happen). 

Jason Richardson is kind of like Ronnie Brewer, in that he’s one of the lone players I enjoy on this team, just like Brewer is for my Knicks, but he’s getting old. Evan Turner is supposed to be a top player now, after a mildly successful postseason run, but he’s always struck me as immature, so we’ll have to see. According to a lot of metrics guys, he’s really unefficient when he’s got the ball, and Philly plays worse when he’s shouldering a high offensive load. 

I’m gonna win my bet: whichever team betweem the Knicks-Sixers possesses the higher win percentage come Christmas time, is the jersey rocked by the loser of the bet. Christmas is gonna be fun. 

Toronto Raptors

Over/Under 33 1/2 - OVER

I really like this team. I think they might make the playoffs. I think Kyle Lowry is underrated, and he might be better than Jeremy Lin, the man who replaced him in Houston this off-season; AND better than Goran Dragic, the man who replaced him during his last season in Houston. He’s a really tough defender and a solid point guard that can get in the lane to score or assist, and who doesn’t turn the ball over very frequently. 

Aside from their point guard, who I fawn too much about, they’ve got a score first, defend later power forward in Andrea Bargnani, and a center that I just know I’m gonna love: Jonas Valenciunas. If you haven’t read it already, check out Holly MacKenzie’s profile of the big Lithuanian rookie. DeMar DeRozan can be DElightful on offense as a second option, but DEcidedly not the guy who takes the last shot. Jose Calderone is a very good back-up point and fill-in guard, and Landry Fields is dependable, if overpaid. 

This team improved from one of the worst defenses in the league during the 2010-11 season, to a mediocre defensive team last season (14th in the league). The emphasis head coach, Dwyane Casey, has put on defense has paid off. Jonas will certainly add to that as well. 

I see them as a top 10 defensive team, and an 8 seed in the East. You heard me right. Eat your heart out Chris Bosh. 

*All bets via Bovada

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