|The Phillies' Ryan Howard watches his second home run of the night in the eighth. (Bill Kostroun/Reuters)|
October 27, 2008
Sixth in NBA preview series: Southwest Oct. 22, Central Oct. 23, Pacific Oct. 24, Southeast Oct. 25th, Northwest yesterday, Celtics tomorrow
In order of predicted finish:
Boston CelticsLast season: 66-16, NBA champions
Coach: Doc Rivers
Starting five: PG Rajon Rondo, SG Ray Allen, SF Paul Pierce, PF Kevin Garnett, C Kendrick Perkins
Key additions: C Patrick O'Bryant, F-G Bill Walker, G-F J.R. Giddens
Key losses: G-F James Posey, F-C P.J. Brown
Outlook: If the starters stay relatively healthy, it will be hard to keep the Celtics from returning to the Finals . . . The big question is, how will they replace Posey off the bench? . . . The Celtics need Tony Allen to be the player he was before knee surgery last year.
Philadelphia 76ersLast season: 40-42, lost in first round
Coach: Mo Cheeks
Starting five: PG Andre Miller, SG Andre Iguodala, SF Thaddeus Young, PF Elton Brand, C Samuel Dalembert
Key additions: Brand, F Marreese Speights, F-C Donyell Marshall
Key losses: F Rodney Carney
Outlook: Brand's addition gives the Sixers a respectable shot at the Atlantic Division title . . . Keep an eye on Young, a budding star . . . Promising young forward Jason Smith is out for the season following knee surgery.
Toronto RaptorsLast season: 41-41, lost in first round
Coach: Sam Mitchell
Starting five: PG Jose Calderon, SG Anthony Parker, SF Joey Graham, PF Chris Bosh, C Jermaine O'Neal
Key additions: O'Neal, PG Roko Ukic
Key losses: PG T.J. Ford, F Carlos Delfino, C Rasho Nesterovic, F Jorge Garbajosa
Outlook: If O'Neal is healthy, he and Bosh could be a dominating 1-2 scoring punch . . . Calderon better produce since the Raptors dealt Ford so he could be the fulltime point guard . . . Keep an eye on the exciting and creative newcomer Ukic.
New York KnicksLast season: 23-59, missed playoffs
Coach: Mike D'Antoni
Starting five: PG Chris Duhon, SG Jamal Crawford, SF Quentin Richardson, PF Zach Randolph, C David Lee
Key additions: Duhon, F Danilo Gallinari, G Anthony Roberson
Key losses: G Fred Jones, F Renaldo Balkman
Outlook: Keep an eye on whether the Knicks decide to buy out talented (and disgruntled) guard Stephon Marbury . . . D'Antoni will employ his uptempo offense, which will make it tough for big man Eddy Curry to be a factor . . . Once he gets healthy and comfortable, Gallinari will be an exciting scoring force.
New Jersey NetsLast season: 34-48, missed playoffs
Coach: Lawrence Frank
Starting five: PG Devin Harris, SG Vince Carter, SF Bobby Simmons, PF Yi Jianlian, C Josh Boone
Key additions: Yi, Simmons, C Brook Lopez, G Keyon Dooling, F-C Ryan Anderson
Key losses:F Richard Jefferson, F Bostjan Nachbar, C Nenad Krstic, G Marcus Williams
Outlook: With Jefferson and Jason Kidd gone, will Carter be the next Nets star to leave? . . . The Nets have two talented young big men who could become All-Stars in Yi and Lopez . . . The Nets' long-term future is bright thanks to young talent.
MARC J. SPEARS
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