Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/24/12
The competition in the Atlantic Division could be the most intriguing in the Eastern Conference, as there are four teams in the running for the title. The Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets were two of the most active teams in the offseason and should be improved. Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics added depth, while the New York Knicks boosted their roster too. The Toronto Raptors will most likely be cellar dwellers, but the race for first in the Atlantic is wide open. Boston CelticsOdds to win NBA title: 12-1 The Boston Celtics are still the old guard in the division, but it appears retooling on the fly might just work. Kevin Garnett looked rejuvenated in the playoffs last season and if he keeps it up, the Celtics will contend. He should have more help inside with the return of Brandon Bass and the addition of first-round picks Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. The Celtics also added Courtney Lee and Jason Terry to the mix while bringing back Jeff Green. The Celtics now have plenty of depth, and matching that with their experience should lead them to a division title. Brooklyn NetsOdds to win NBA title: 28-1 The Nets make their move to Brooklyn this year and they'll unveil what should be a much-improved roster. While they missed out on Dwight Howard, they still acquired All-Star guard Joe Johnson to pair with Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace and Deron Williams. Overall, that's a pretty good starting lineup.Depth is a concern as players like Andray Blatche, C.J. Watson and Josh Childress can be hit or miss. However, the Nets should be among the most improved teams in the league considering they won just 22 games last season. Philadelphia 76ersOdds to win NBA title: 40-1 The 76ers should probably be getting more love on the betting lines considering the offseason they had. They shipped off Andre Iguodala, who wasn't quite a fit in Doug Collins' schemes, and brought in center Andrew Bynum. Bynum is the second-best big man in the league and can easily take the Sixers from a decent team to a championship contender. The Sixers need to replace Iguodala's scoring, leadership and clutch performance. They started to do that last season and will hope that the additions of Nick Young, Jason Richardson and Dorrell Wright can do the trick. If Bynum is healthy and the new additions fit, this could be the second-best team in the East. New York KnicksOdds to win NBA title: 35-1 The New York Knicks didn't have a great offseason as they whiffed on Steve Nash, then let Jeremy Lin sign with the Houston Rockets. Then they went out and signed Jason Kidd, who is far passed his prime, and Raymond Felton, who they ran out of town just a few years ago. This team is still just an odd concoction of talent without chemistry. Carmelo Anthony is great, Amar'e Stoudemire can be dominant and Tyson Chandler is among the best defensive players in the league. However, the team just lacks cohesion and that's likely to be their downfall once again. Toronto RaptorsOdds to win NBA title: 250-1 The Raptors are still in rebuilding mode but they're hoping that the addition of two first round picks boosts their foundation. Last year's first-round pick, Jonas Valanciunas, will join the team this year and hopefully provide a much-needed boost at the center position. Meanwhile, this year's first-round pick, Terrence Ross, should provide the much-needed scoring. Even so, the Raptors are thin on depth and rebounding. Coach Dwane Casey improved the team's toughness on defense but until they find a primetime scorer and a supporting cast, they'll find themselves in the Atlantic basement.
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