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We continue with our NBA Preview special, this time nitpicking on the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division

New York Knicks
Coach: Mike D’ Antoni
Projected Starting Five:
PG
: Chris Duhon
SG: Larry Hughes
SF: Wilson Chandler
PF: Al Harrington
C: David Lee

Key Additions: Darko Milicic
Key Losses: Chris Wilcox, Quentin Richardson

For a couple years now, the New York Knicks have been the butt of nearly all jokes. We would have gladly taken “nearly” out of that sentence, if not for the Clippers. This year, they’re back with pretty much the same team, and the same philosophy: Make way for the Lebron James sweepstakes in 2010. David Lee, Nate Robinson, and Al Harrington are the closest that this team has in terms of star players, but we doubt anyone has the ability to lead the teams in and out of games.

We applaud David Lee’s monster rebounding efforts, but this team still lacks a sturdy defensive presence inside and a true starting point guard (Duhon is really a back-up at best). D’Antoni’s philosophy to simply outgun the opponents, while mostly disregarding defense, tells us that this season will just be a repeat of last season’s 32-50 performance, if not more dismal. Knicks fans couldn’t fast forward to 2010 fast enough, and even then, there’s no guarantee they’ll net a bonafide star.

New Jersey Nets
Coach
: Lawrence Frank
Projected Starting Five:
PG
: Devin Harris
SG: Courtney Lee
SF: Yi Jianlian
PF: Sean Williams
C: Brook Lopez

Key Additions: Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston
Key Losses: Vince Carter

Early in the season last year, Devin Harris boldly predicted after his team’s better-than-expected start: “We knew we we’re going to be a playoff team!” And like a curse, the team proceeded to finish the regular season with a 34-48 card, not good enough to even earn the last berth in the playoff race. 

The chances for the Nets to make it there looks also dim this year. The Nets have finally relinquished the dream of winning a championship anytime soon when they traded Vince Carter to Orlando for Courtney Lee in the offseason. It’s officially rebuilding time in Nets-town, but that doesn’t mean the team won’t be fun to watch, even with the wins coming far and few in between. Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Yi Jianlian, Sean Williams, and Brook Lopez are all under 27 and all have tremendous upsides to offer. Their building blocks are definitely nothing to be embarrassed about, and will give Nets fans something to hope for in the future at least.

Boston Celtics
Coach
: Doc Rivers
Projected Starting Five:
PG
: Rajon Rondo
SG: Ray Allen
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Kendrick Perkins

Key Additions: Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels
Key Losses: Leon Powe

Let’s state the obvious here. This is a stacked team, but this may very well be the last season that they will be tagged a true championship contender. The Big Three—Allen, Pierce, and Garnett—aren’t getting any younger, and they know this is the year to really dream big about becoming two-time champs. That should pump up their nitro-driven hearts already.


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WORDS BY: GELO GONZALES

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