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The Atlantic, Week 9: Evan Turner and Celtics Roster Continuity Trending Up

(AP/sports.yahoo.com)

We’re in the home stretch of the NBA season, and Sports of Boston is on top of all the recent news and notes in “The Atlantic”.

Will continuity help the Celtics? Is Evan Turner a budding star? Who will be on the Nets’ billboards this summer in Brooklyn?

The playoffs are just weeks away for the teams in… “The Atlantic.”

Boston Celtics (23-21, 2nd place)

Trending Up: Continuity

In a league where rhythm matters so much, continuity of roster can be a huge deal. Last year the Celtics added/subtracted five players in the second half of the season, won seven of their first 10 after the All-Star Break, then struggled down the stretch. At this year’s trade deadline the Celtics did the opposite of what they did last year: nothing. This current group of Celtics has its flaws, but they are developing a rhythm and in the NBA that’s important.

Trending Down: ‘The Window’

The Celtics are in the fifth year of a three-year window. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen‘s championship aspirations as a unit are all but over. Doc Rivers, Danny Ainge and the Big 3 have also come to terms with it. These Celtics are going to put up quite a fight in the playoffs, but no one is aimlessly trying to get the fans’ hopes up.

Philadelphia 76ers (25-20, 1st Place)

Trending Up: Evan Turner

Coming out of Ohio State, everyone knew Turner had all the intangibles to go a long way in the NBA. The questions NBA scouts began to ask following Turner’s rough rookie season are being answered now as Turner has averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds and four assists over the last five games. It will be interesting to see if Turner’s emergence will push Philly to explore Andre Iguodala’s trade market again this summer.

Trending Down: Ability to create space in the division

Win three, lose two – that’s the story of the Sixers season. The Sixers lead the Celtics by just a game and a half and have huge division games coming up against Boston and New York. The 76ers’ inability to create space between themselves and the Celtics could seriously hurt their season if they drop to seventh and have to face Miami in the first round of the playoffs.

New York Knicks (21-24, 3rd place)

Trending Up: Signs of Life

Mike Woodson is now the head coach of the Knicks, and their results since have been off the charts, blowing out the Blazers on Wednesday and the Pacers Friday. A week ago, people were completely writing the Knicks off. This week, the Knicks are in a dogfight with the Bucks for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern conference.

Trending Down: Mike D’Antoni

D’Antoni’s NBA coaching career may be over. In professional sports, X’s and O’s matter. D’Antoni seems to think you can teach X’s without O’s. He had success in Phoenix because he had Steve Nash, but D’Antoni is a bit too much of a novelty to coach in the NBA.

Toronto Raptors (15-30, 4th place)

Trending Up: Jerryd Bayless

While Jose Calderon sat the last couple games with an ankle sprain, Bayless has emerged in a big way, averaging 18 points, seven assists and four rebounds over the last five games. Immaturity on and off the court may have crippled Bayless’ early years, but he’s still just 23. The Raptors can expect more improvement than what they’ve seen this season.

Trending Down: Playing games without Andrea Bargnani

If you judge the Raptors winning percentage just on games that Bargnani has played in, they would be in the seventh spot in the East. As it is, the Raptors are 13th. Bargnani is back and completely healthy, which is bad news for Raptors fans if they want the team to shoot for a high lottery pick.

New Jersey Nets (15-30, 5th place)

Trending Up: the Panic Button

As soon as the Nets realized they had no shot at Dwight Howard this season or via free-agency in the off-season, they starting using their high lottery pick as trade bait and landed Gerald Wallace. Now the Nets look headed for the middle of the East the next few seasons instead of eventually headed to the top. The Nets’ plan was foiled, and it doesn’t appear they have a plan B.

Trending Down: the Duo

The billboards in Brooklyn this summer are going to look a lot different now, with Deron Williams appearing next to a bunch of lesser-known players.  Howard and Williams plastered all over Brooklyn would have created so much buzz for the team. Now the Nets are scrambling to convince Williams to re-sign so that they at least have him to sell the team to New York basketball fans.

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