Thursday, December 27, 2012

Avery Johnson Fired in Brooklyn: Breaking Down the Atlantic

Avery Johnson is on his way out of Brooklyn after being fired by the Nets on Thursday afternoon. Johnson took the team out of the gates to a 11-4 start, winning coach of the month in the NBA for October and November. The Nets then slumped into a 3-10 slide in December, reaching 14-14 overall. Dropping to .500 on back-to-back blowout losses to the Celtics and the Bucks, which was the final straw for Johnson's time in Brooklyn. P.J. Carlesimo will take over in the interim. Not to speculate but Phil Jackson, Stan Van Gundy, and Jerry Sloan have all already been mentioned.
Here is how the Atlantic Division stands today:

New York Knicks 21-8
Boston Celtics 14-13
Brooklyn Nets 14-14
Philadelphia 76ers 14-15
Toronto Raptors 9-20

The Knicks hold the two seed in the East, Boston and Brooklyn are holding on to the last two playoff seeds at seven and eight. It's a pretty congested division in the middle at the moment, and now is the time for a team to break loose. The Knicks schedule gets much tougher, and they have some brutal road trips left on the schedule, Brooklyn is obviously in turmoil, and Philly has cooled off after a hot start. This division is open for the taking if Boston wants it, and even if the Knicks don't cool off from downtown, the Celtics can still emerge as an equal to the Knicks as they were expected to be.
It was nice to see the games that Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger provided off the bench on Christmas, but they have proven to be far too inconsistent to rely on for the entire season. Help needs to come in the form of a trade, which can be nerve racking when you consider Danny Ainge's last big deadline deal was the Kendrick Perkins - Jeff Green swap. Another forced trade could ruin this teams hope for this season and the future. But a calculated risk in the form of a DeMarcus Cousins could be perfect. After some issues in Sacramento, Cousins is on the trade block. The Celtics would be crazy not to at least inquire about a deal. Cousins comes with crazy upside that could finally prevail under the wing of Garnett and the guidance of Doc.

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