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Atlantic Division

The Phillies' Ryan Howard watches his second home run of the night in the eighth. The Phillies' Ryan Howard watches his second home run of the night in the eighth. (Bill Kostroun/Reuters)
October 27, 2008
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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 Celtics

Last 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 76ers

Last 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 Raptors

Last 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 Knicks

Last 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 Nets

Last 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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