Phife Previews The NBA’s Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics
The NBA Grind hasn’t always been kind to coaches coming in from the college game, unless your name is Larry Brown (1988 NCAA champion Kansas Jayhawks, 2004 NBA champion Detroit Pistons). The last time Boston tried such a feat was when they hired HALL OF FAME Coach Rick Pitino, who might as well have been the Mayor of Lexington, KY after leading the Wildcats to the NCAA championship in 1996 and finishing with 219 wins.

With that being said, coming to the NBA’s most storied franchise ended up being a huge mistake—DIDN’T WORK!!!!!! Fast forward 13 year later, and Danny Ainge rolls the dice and hires former Butler coach Brad Stevens. It’ll take a while for the Celtic fans to warm up to this new regime.

Red Auerbach will not be lighting up a cigar any time soon, but look on the bright side: Brad knows his X’s and O’s and it won’t hurt having one of the best point men in the league with Rajon Rondo, forward Jeff Green and the defense of two-guard Avery Bradley nothing to sneeze at.

I love the drafting of Gonzaga standout Kelly Olynyk: offensively his ceiling is high, but Boston’s Leprechaun will have a huge fight on his hands in order to lead the C’s to the playoffs. Celts will waver between 8th & 10th place in the Conference all season, and 4th or 5th in the Atlantic.
Off-season grade: C-


Brooklyn Nets
I’m not a huge fan of the whole, “Rent 2 Future Hall of Famers For a Season to See What Happens” thing. However, this is a business, and GM Billy King is nobody’s rookie when it comes to putting a team together. Add that to the deep pockets of Owner Mikhail Prokhorov and at least on paper, the Nets mean BUSINESS!!!

First Jason Kidd gets hired as head coach, then the blockbuster trade for Jason Terry, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, then the drafting of Duke standout Mason Plumlee! All of that sounds good, but the most underrated transaction of all has to be reeling in forwards Andrei Kirilenko and former Toronto Raptor Alan Anderson. This gives this team a lot of depth, but it won’t be enough to dethrone the Miami Heat or Chicago Bulls. The Nets will finish 1st in the Atlantic, and either 3rd or 4th in East.
Off-season grade: B+


New York Knicks
Okay, this is personal for obvious reasons, but understand, before I’m a fan I’m a realist and the one thing that never ceases to amaze me is that Knick Front Office/Ownership, year after year, makes no sense!

Ever since Patrick Ewing was traded to Seattle, New York has not been the same until last season! I can’t understand why Carmelo Anthony gets so many darts thrown his way when he and Coach Woodson basically saved the franchise!

Amaré is still hurt and hasn’t played well since Carmelo’s arrival. J.R. Smith had his best season in the league up until throwing that elbow in the playoffs, Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby barely saw playing time and Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert were injured as well for a substantial amount of time. Now this season, I look at the Knicks’ roster and I’m torn!

Good news: I Love Metta World Peace and what he brings defensively. Bad news: I’m not feeling Andrea Bargnani since he hasn’t done a thing in this league since his rookie season. It’s bad when your family and friends in Toronto are laughing at you and wishing you good luck with that guy!

One thing I know is that all Knicks fans will have to watch every game with fingers and toes crossed. The Knicks can cause problems barring injury. New York will finish a close second in the Atlantic, and 5th in the Eastern Conference.
Off-season Grade: C-


Philadelphia 76ers
Not sure what’s going on in Philly, but ever since that Andrew Bynum debacle things have bottomed out in the City of Brotherly Love.

With Jrue Holiday traded to New Orleans, rookie Micheal Carter-Williams will have to quickly become the coach on the floor and leader of the team. Shooting guard Evan Turner has to average more than just 13.3 points per game—that’s just not going to cut it now that Holiday is in The Big Easy.

Nerlens Noel will miss his debut season, and how much does Jason Richardson have left in the tank? Thaddeus Young is a stud if he gets the ball, but as for Royce White… Aww nevamind!!!! It’ll be a loooooooooong season in Philly, period!!!!! Philly will finish last in the Atlantic and possibly the East.
Off-season Grade: F


Toronto Raptors (Starting From The Bottom)
Not sure what to expect from this team, but I will warn most teams, don’t sleep! It all starts with the Raptors’ front office. Former Denver Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri is no stranger to starting from the bottom; just take a look at where the Nuggets came from and where they are possibly headed. It didn’t work out for Bryan Colangelo, so now Ujiri must clean up the mess.

First order of operations would be finding a point guard: Kyle Lowry and newly-acquired D.J. Augustine are serviceable, but for how long? Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross have bright futures ahead of them, as does big man Jonas Valanciunas, but until they get that superstar point guard, Coach Dwane Casey will only get them so far. The Raptors will finish 3rd in the Atlantic, and miss the playoffs.
Off-season grade: C-

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