October 20, 2014

Capsules for the NBA's Atlantic Division, listed in predicted order of divisional finish by AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds':

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ATLANTIC DIVISION

TORONTO RAPTORS

LAST SEASON: 48-34, lost to Brooklyn Nets 4-3 in first round.

STARTING FIVE: G Kyle Lowry (17.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 7.4 apg), G DeMar DeRozan (22.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.0 apg), G/F Terrence Ross (10.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.0 apg), F Amir Johnson (10.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.5 apg), C Jonas Valanciunas (11.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 0.7 apg).

KEY ADDITIONS: F Bruno Caboclo (draft, Brazil), F James Johnson (free agent, Grizzlies), C Greg Stiemsma (free agent, Pelicans) G Lou Williams (trade, Hawks).

KEY LOSSES: G/F John Salmons (trade, Hawks), F Steve Novak (trade, Jazz).

COACH: Dwane Casey, fourth season with Raptors (105-125), sixth season overall (158-194).

EYES ON: Ross. The former slam dunk champion added 15 pounds of extra muscle in offseason workouts, some of them with teammate DeRozan. Ross matched Vince Carter's Raptors record with a 51-point game against the Clippers last January, but was a non-factor in the playoff loss to the Nets. This year, he's stronger, more mature, and more focused.

OUTLOOK: Toronto kept its core intact by re-signing Lowry, G Greivis Vasquez and F Patrick Patterson, and improved its bench by adding scorer Lou Williams and defensive stopper James Johnson. A repeat title in the relatively weak Atlantic Division looks likely, but true progress will be measured in the playoffs. Now in their 20th season, the Raptors have only ever won one postseason series.

NEW YORK KNICKS

LAST SEASON: 37-45, missed playoffs.

STARTING FIVE: G Jose Calderon (11.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 4.7 apg), G Iman Shumpert (6.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.7 apg), F Carmelo Anthony (27.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 3.1 apg), F Andrea Bargnani (13.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.1 apg), C Samuel Dalembert (6.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 0.5 apg).

KEY ADDITIONS: G Calderon (trade, Mavericks), C Dalembert (trade, Mavericks), F Quincy Acy (trade, Kings), F Travis Outlaw (trade, Kings), F Jason Smith (free agent, Pelicans), F Cleanthony Early (draft, Wichita State).

KEY LOSSES: C Tyson Chandler (trade, Mavericks), G Raymond Felton (trade, Mavericks).

COACH: Derek Fisher, first season.

EYES ON: Anthony. The former scoring champion flourished the last few years in Mike Woodson's offense that gave him plenty of isolation opportunities, but now has to show he can adapt to the triangle offense. He said he's already talked to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant about how they did it.

OUTLOOK: Phil Jackson has said he believes the Knicks can be a playoff team in his first full season as team president. Even if that goal falls short, having the 11-time champion as a coach in place gives a longtime dysfunctional organization stability at the top and the hope of a better future.

BROOKLYN NETS

LAST SEASON: 44-38, lost to Miami Heat 4-1 in second round.

STARTING FIVE: G Deron Williams (14.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 6.1 apg), G Joe Johnson (15.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.7 apg), F Bojan Bogdanovic (rookie), F Kevin Garnett (6.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.5 apg), C Brook Lopez (20.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 0.9 apg).

KEY ADDITIONS: G/F Bogdanovic (free agent, Europe), G Jarrett Jack (trade, Cavaliers).

KEY LOSSES: F Paul Pierce (free agent, Wizards), G Shaun Livingston (free agent, Warriors), C Andray Blatche (free agent, China).

COACH: Lionel Hollins, first season with Nets, eighth season overall (214-201).

EYES ON: Garnett. His 20th season could be his last in the NBA, so watch him while you can. Garnett believes it could be better than his first with the Nets, when he had the worst statistics of his career.

OUTLOOK: The payroll is lower and so are the expectations after the Nets went into last season thinking their big-spending ways had assembled a title contender. But if Lopez and Williams stay healthy after offseason surgeries, they might end up being a better team.

BOSTON CELTICS

LAST SEASON: 25-57, missed playoffs.

STARTING FIVE: G Marcus Smart (rookie), G Avery Bradley (14.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.4 apg), F Jeff Green (16.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.7 apg), F Jared Sullinger (13.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.6 apg), C Kelly Olynyk (8.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.6 apg).

KEY ADDITIONS: Smart (draft, Oklahoma State); G-F Evan Turner (free agent, Pacers), C Tyler Zeller (trade, Cavaliers), G Marcus Thornton (trade, Nets).

KEY LOSSES: C Kris Humphries (trade, Wizards), G Jerryd Bayless (free agent, Bucks).

COACH: Brad Stevens, second season with Celtics (25-57).

EYES ON: Rajon Rondo. The Celtics' star point guard is injured again entering this season, though indications are he could be back soon. Rondo has played in only 68 games over the last two seasons, but he's entering a free-agent summer and will likely be motivated for a comeback year.

OUTLOOK: Stevens impressed onlookers with his style last year and the Celtics have done a great job collecting assets for the future. That all being said, even if Rondo comes back as strong as ever, Boston is probably still going to be looking up at the playoff-bound.

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

LAST SEASON: 19-63, missed playoffs.

STARTING FIVE: G Tony Wroten (13.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.0 apg), G K.J. McDaniels (rookie), F Hollis Thompson (6.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 0.9 apg), F Nerlens Noel (rookie), F Henry Sims (11.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.8 apg).

KEY ADDITIONS: F Luc Mbah a Moute (trade, Timberwolves), McDaniels (draft, Clemson), C Joel Embiid (draft, Kansas).

KEY LOSSES: F Thaddeus Young (trade, Timberwolves).

COACH: Brett Brown, second season with 76ers (19-63).

EYES ON: Noel. The rookie out of Kentucky missed all of last season because of a torn ACL suffered in college. He's the key cog in Philadelphia's rebuilding plan and how well he handles the rigors of an 82-game season is the biggest question for a franchise that can't afford to guess wrong with their draft picks.

OUTLOOK: Grim. The 76ers matched an NBA record last season with a 26-game losing streak and still didn't have the worst record in the NBA. With rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams sidelined indefinitely with a shoulder injury - and with Embiid possibly out for the season - the Sixers don't return a single starter from last season and could find matching last season's 19-game win total a struggle.

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