Nba Preview

October 30, 2007|By ORLANDO SENTINEL

CAPSULES BY ORLANDO SENTINEL

TEAMS LISTED IN ORDER OF PREDICTED FINISH

Eastern conference

ATLANTIC

BOSTON CELTICS

Last season -- 24-58 (5th in Atlantic)

Coach -- Doc Rivers (9th NBA season, 273-312)

Projected starting five -- C Kendrick Perkins, F Kevin Garnett, F Paul Pierce, G Ray Allen, G Rajon Rondo

What to expect -- The Celtics will be the most improved team in the league, igniting an interest in the team that hasn't been seen since Boston's glory days back in the 1980s. Garnett couldn't carry the Minnesota Timberwolves, but he will get better help with the Celtics.

NEW JERSEY NETS

Last season -- 41-41 (2nd in Atlantic)

Coach -- Lawrence Frank (5th NBA season, 157-129)

Projected starting five -- C Jamaal Magloire, F Nenad Krstic, F Richard Jefferson, G Vince Carter, G Jason Kidd

What to expect -- The Nets finished strong last season, despite losing both Jefferson and Krstic for long stretches because of injuries. They should be better and ready to fight for the top spot in this division.

TORONTO RAPTORS

Last season -- 47-35 (1st in Atlantic)

Coach -- Sam Mitchell (4th NBA season, 107-139)

Projected starting five -- C Chris Bosh, F Andrea Bargnani, F Jorge Garbajosa, G T.J. Ford, G Anthony Parker

What to expect -- The Raptors struggled early last season, but they closed well, using a nice mix of young international players who know how to play unselfishly, tailoring their games around All-Star Bosh.

NEW YORK KNICKS

Last season -- 33-49 (4th in Atlantic)

Coach -- Isiah Thomas (5th NBA season, 164-164)

Projected starting five -- C Eddy Curry, F Zach Randolph, F Quentin Richardson, G Jamal Crawford, G Stephon Marbury

What to expect -- Thomas wants an offense that goes into the post, using Curry and Randolph around the basket. They will have plenty of weapons to score lots of points from inside and out.

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Last season -- 35-47 (3rd in Atlantic)

Coach -- Maurice Cheeks (7th NBA season, 235-230)

Projected starting five -- C Samuel Dalembert, F Reggie Evans, F Andre Iguodala, G Andre Miller, G Willie Green

What to expect -- The Sixers have made a lot of changes since the Allen Iverson era ended last season, but they aren't any better, just different. They are young and athletic but still a long way from reaching the playoffs because everyone in the East has improved.

CENTRAL

CHICAGO BULLS

Last season -- 49-33 (3rd in Central)

Coach -- Scott Skiles (8th NBA season, 272-235)

Projected starting five -- C Ben Wallace, F Luol Deng, F Joe Smith, G Kirk Hinrich, G Ben Gordon

What to expect -- They have been improving steadily with this young cast of good athletes, and they aren't far from the top of the Eastern Conference. The playoff experience they gained last season -- losing in the second round to Detroit -- gave them a taste of what they should expect.

DETROIT PISTONS

Last season -- 53-29 (1st in Central)

Coach -- Flip Saunders (13th NBA season, 528-373)

Projected starting five -- C Rasheed Wallace, F Antonio McDyess, F Tayshaun Prince, G Richard Hamilton, G Chauncey Billups

What to expect -- This is a well-seasoned team that knows how to win, keeping its core together for another year. Losing to Cleveland in the conference final last spring might be a hint that the slide has begun.

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Last season -- 50-32 (2nd in Central Division)

Coach -- Mike Brown (3rd NBA season, 100-64)

Projected starting five -- C Zydrunas Ilgauskas, F Drew Gooden, F LeBron James, G Larry Hughes, G Daniel Gibson

What to expect -- This is one team in the East that will have trouble duplicating its accomplishments from last season. The Cavs were the surprise winners of the Eastern Conference, which earned them the right to be drilled by the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals.

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

Last season -- 28-54 (5th in Central)

Coach -- Larry Krystkowiak (2nd NBA season, 5-13)

Projected starting five -- C Andrew Bogut, F Charlie Villanueva, F Bobby Simmons, G Michael Redd, G Maurice Williams

What to expect -- If they stay healthy -- something they couldn't do last season -- they are a playoff contender. This team has depth, which many of the other teams in the East don't have.

INDIANA PACERS

Last season -- 35-47 (4th in Central)

Coach -- Jim O'Brien (6th NBA season, 182-158)

Projected starting five -- C Jermaine O'Neal, F Troy Murphy, F Danny Granger, G Mike Dunleavy, G Jamaal Tinsley

What to expect -- The franchise has fallen on hard times because of some trades that just didn't work for the best. Trying to get rid of the guys who caused off-court embarrassment, the Pacers ended up with a less-talented team.

SOUTHEAST

WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Last season -- 41-41 (2nd in Southeast)

Coach -- Eddie Jordan (7th NBA season, 186-239)

Projected starting five -- C Brendan Haywood, F Antawn Jamison, F Caron Butler, G Gilbert Arenas, G DeShawn Stevenson

What to expect -- They were the best team in the division until getting rocked by injuries late last season. If they can stay healthy, even with a weak rebounding team, they could go deep in the playoffs.

ORLANDO MAGIC

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