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Nets, 76ers, Celtics, Knicks, Raptors: An Early Glance at the Atlantic Division
Brooklyn bounced back from their Wednesday night loss to the Miami Heat by taking care of the Orlando Magic 107-68. The Nets were able to get an array of contributions from their bench. Jerry Stackhouse saw his first action of the season and put in three 3’s for 11 points in 10 minutes. Andray Blatche had 15 points and 9 rebounds, and C.J. Watson had an efficient 9 points on only 5 shot attempts in 18 minutes. This is the kind of effort that Avery Johnson wants and needs to see from his bench night in and night out; not only against teams like Orlando, but playoff teams as well.
Brook Lopez was aggressive and put together a double-double while Kris Humphries was able to add 8 points and 8 rebounds giving the Nets a plus 13 advantage on the glass. With all of this production, the Nets’ star-guards were relieved of the pressure to produce big games. Even so, both Williams and Johnson were in double figures as the Nets cruised to their biggest win of the season getting them back to a .500 record.
In a matchup between two conference foes both sitting with records of 2-2, the 76ers and the Celtics met for the first time this season in Boston. The Philadelphia backcourt had big performances tonight carrying the Sixers to a 106-100 victory. Jrue Holiday had 21 points to go with 14 assists and Evan Turner had 25 points with 11 rebounds. Paul Pierce led the way for the Celtics with 24 points, Kevin Garnett added 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Rondo had a brilliant game with 14 points and 20 assists. After Friday night’s game Rondo tied John Stockton for the third longest streak of all time for a player to have consecutive games with at least ten assists (he is now at 29).
Despite nice games from the Boston stars, the Sixers shot 54% from three-land and played a more complete game. The Big-three for Boston have been fairly consistent but they are not getting enough from their role players. Boston came into the season with the hopes of remaining atop the Eastern Conference, but early on it appears that they have lost a little bit of their edge.
With the Knicks currently undefeated and wins Friday evening for both Brooklyn and Philadelphia, the Celtics are now second to last in the Atlantic Division only in front of Toronto. Don’t be surprised to see Boston look to make some moves this season if they are going to be serious about making another playoff run. A guy like Kenyon Martin could add some of the intangibles that this team is currently lacking up front.
The New York Knicks (3-0) welcomed the Dallas Mavericks (4-1) at Madison Square Garden on Friday night in a showdown between two teams off to very good starts this season. Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith were too much for Dallas in this game combining for 53 points. The Knicks are playing at a very high level and with a confidence we have not seen in New York for quite some time. So far the veteran movement seems to be working with Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace playing better than many would have expected. The Knicks are now the only team left in the league without a loss. They will play Orlando on Tuesday before getting another big test from the Spurs in San Antonio on Thursday.
Today the Sixers will look to extend their win streak to 3 games as they travel to Toronto for a game with the Raptors. Boston will get a rematch against Milwaukee tonight after being defeated 98-88 by the Bucks last Friday.