Please select your default edition
Your default site has been set for 7 days

Mike Tuck's Atlantic Division preview: Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks

Mike Tuck - @miketuck15

Tuesday 15 October 2019 17:04, UK

Who will win the Atlantic Division in 2019-20?
Image: Who will win the Atlantic Division in 2019-20?

Sky Sports NBA analyst Mike Tuck previews the NBA’s Atlantic Division, offers his prediction for division winners and invites you to have your say in our poll.

Sync NBA fixtures to your phone

Sync NBA fixtures to your phone

Sync your team's 2019-20 NBA schedule, plus NBA Saturdays and NBA Sundays, to your phone's calendar

2019-20 NBA Primetime games on Sky Sports

2019-20 NBA Primetime games on Sky Sports

Record number of weekend primetime games live on Sky Sports during 2019-20 NBA season

Atlantic Division - 2018-19 standings

  • Toronto Raptors – 58-24
  • Philadelphia 76ers – 51-31
  • Boston Celtics – 49-33
  • Brooklyn Nets – 42-40
  • New York Knicks – 17-65

Tuck's take

I really like Philly this season. I saw their starters line up at media day and they looked big, strong and athletic.

The biggest question for them is who will be their closer. They lost Jimmy Butler in free agency. Does Tobias Harris have it in him to do that job? I don't know if he can create like that.

Tobias Harris celebrates a basket during the Philadelphia 76ers' Game 3 win over the Brooklyn Nets
Image: Tobias Harris celebrates a basket during the Philadelphia 76ers' Game 3 win over the Brooklyn Nets

Josh Richardson has come in from Miami off a breakout season. This is the perfect time for him to take the next step. But he doesn't have the ego to be 'the man' like Butler did.

Joel Embiid has been humbled in the playoffs and has matured a bit. The Sixers need to take note of what the Raptors did with Kawhi Leonard and get Embiid to the playoffs in good shape, keep him healthy down the stretch.

NBA 2019-20: Team previews

NBA 2019-20: Team previews

Get the lowdown on your team ahead of what will be a spectacular 2019-20 NBA season

Get NBA news on your phone

Get NBA news on your phone

Want the latest NBA news, features and highlights on your phone? Find out more

They must also hope Ben Simmons shoots a few threes this season! If he can do that, it changes everything as it opens up the floor for his team-mates. He has to catch-and-shoot when he is open.

More on this story

Ben Simmons celebrates a basket in Philadelphia's win over the Loong Lions 0:31
Ben Simmons brought the Philadelphia crowd to their feet as he made the first three-pointer of his NBA career

Simmons is the key for Philly. Can he elevate his game to the next level? It is time for him to start evolving.

In Boston, Kemba Walker is not an upgrade for Kyrie Irving in terms of talent, but he does offer the better overall package and better leadership. The extra stuff with Kyrie, the psychodrama, you don't want to hear about it. Kemba has the right attitude, he's not a negative guy. He's been in this small market putting up monster games in Charlotte. For him, back in a big market, this could be a break-out season for him.

Gordon Hayward in action for the Boston Celtics during the 2018-19 season 3:33
Gordon Hayward says free-agent summer signing Kemba Walker is a 'game-changer' for the Boston Celtics

Losing Al Horford to a division rival is the worst thing for the Celtics. That move blindsided me. Kemba can replace Kyrie, but Enes Kanter can't replicate what Horford gave Boston at both ends of the floor.

Now Boston's younger guys now have another chance to step. I think this will be Jayson Tatum's year. Can Gordon Hayward rebuild on what he was doing towards the end of last season? Is he truly back to 100 per cent? They had four guys on the US World Cup team too. That's good, they've had guys working out together all summer and that will build cohesiveness.

Follow Sky Sports NBA on Twitter

Follow Sky Sports NBA on Twitter

See the NBA's best plays and stay up to date with the latest news

Join our NBA group on Facebook

Join our NBA group on Facebook

Sign up and join the NBA conversation in our Facebook group

The downside? The Celtics are struggling in the big man department. Kanter will help, but defensively he is a bit of a liability.

Everyone is writing my Raptors off! We're reigning champs! They'll obviously miss Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green but they've re-signed Kyle Lowry on a one-year extension. OG Anunoby is coming back from injury and the door is wide open for Pascal Siakam to shine.

Pascal Siakam attacks the rim in Game 1 of the NBA Finals 1:27
Pascal Siakam starred at both ends of the court as he led the Toronto Raptors to victory in Game 1 of the NBA Finals

Siakam has said he's ready, physically he looks ready and he has already had big games in the preseason. Can he do it every night? Can he do it for the whole season? It's his time.

Kawhi Leonard came into Toronto last year and showed those young guys the way. He helped them build confidence through every round of the playoffs. They even started talking like him in the end - 'don't get too high, don't get too low'. The Raptors, along with the Sixers and the Celtics, should all make the playoffs.

My pick to win the Atlantic? Philadelphia 76ers

Want to watch the NBA and WNBA but don't have Sky Sports? Get the Sky Sports Action and Arena pack, click here.