New York Knicks: The best arena in the world
Mike Breen and Walt “Clyde” Frazier are undoubtedly one of the best broadcast teams in the game. Clydeisms alone are a great reason to watch the Knicks. And so is the forever marvelous Madison Square Garden, filled with a raucous buzz on any given night and loaded to the brim with wild Knicks fans who are not afraid to call it like it is.
The atmosphere at MSG (especially when the Knicks are winning) just hits different. It always has and always will.
Toronto Raptors: Suffocating defense
The Raptors’ defense with extreme length and athleticism is suffocating, leading to a vast amount of transition opportunities, No. 2 in the NBA in fast break points and No. 2 in points off turnovers a season ago. Toronto has the personnel to switch everything.
Nick Nurse is an innovative coach, unleashing madness on the league with his no-center-but-humongous-everywhere-else lineups that attack relentlessly with length, speed and aggressive ball pressure to get up and GO in transition.
Brooklyn Nets: Seeing how the drama unfolds
Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons are two of the five players with the most to prove this season. Will Simmons be afraid to shoot? Can he make his free throws? How often will Kyrie transform into Uncle Drew? How often will Kyrie be available? Will KD put a tumultuous summer behind him by doing what he does best? (Just hooping.)
Will this team that has always been fantastic on paper actually put it together in reality on the court? Will they implode and disband?
So many questions. So much drama.
Philadelphia 76ers: Embiid’s MVP mission
Joel Embiid is coming for that MVP.
Fresh off his most durable season yet, Embiid is a wrecking ball and bulldozer in the paint with a soft, deft shooting touch when he steps out. He scored the most points per game in the entire NBA last year at 30.6 points, and he will benefit from having James Harden around for a full season of their stout two-man game. An Embiid-Harden pick-and-roll with Maxey slashing is a potent play that the Sixers will run early and often.
Boston Celtics: The J-Team
The J-Team duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown get better every season. This year should be no different. They used to take turns having big games, but they have started to play their best basketball at the same time and together.
After the All-Star Break, Tatum averaged 30-7-5 and shot 41.5 percent from 3 on 9.2 attempts per game. Insane numbers. He looked more in control than ever.
In the playoffs, Brown took his game up another level when the C’s needed him most.
Now the J-Team face a season of adversity like never before.