Pulse Check
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It has been called the "Titanic Division", but the problem with that moniker is that the Titanic was supposed to be an indestructible ship. I don't think many people predicted that more than one or two teams would make the playoffs out of the Atlantic.

Maybe, it should be called the "Gigli" Division. We all knew that one wasn't heading for any Oscar nominations.

The Nets lead the division with a 9-12 record. The five teams in the Atlantic have a combined 39-70 record. That is a .358 clip, which is easily the worst of all six divisions, but also worse than 23 of the 25 teams in the other five divisions. Ouch!

With each team having played at least 21 games and with a major shakeup (the impending Allen Iverson trade) on the horizon, it's time for the Atlantic Division Quarterly Report. A pulse check if you will. We'll take a look at the good, the bad and (to keep this from being too depressing) a fascinating fact (courtesy of the team's media guide) for each squad.


The Good: Jason Kidd is dropping triple-doubles in his sleep and Vince Carter is having one of the finest seasons of his career (career-highs in PPG, RPG and field goal percentage). Eddie House is back from injury, Marcus Williams has shown flashes of brilliance and Hassan "Hassassin" Adams is instant energy.

The Bad: Inconsistency. One night, it's the defense. One night, it's the offense. One night, it's the first quarter. One night, it's the fourth. So, you can't put a finger on what has been going wrong, other than to say that the team has seemed disinterested at some point in every game, except perhaps, the double-OT thriller. Richard Jefferson has been nursing two bad ankles and might be better off shutting it down for few games. They haven't taken advantage of a home-heavy schedule.

The Fascinating: Obviously, Jason Kidd is the franchise leader with 42 triple-doubles in a Nets uniform (and his 80 career triple-doubles are one more than the Nets have as a franchise). In second place is Kenny Anderson with five. Tied for third with four is Derrick Coleman and ... Shawn Bradley.

Bradley had four triple-doubles as a Net (in just 107 games in Jersey), including two in consecutive games, all of the points-rebounds-blocks variety. He had six career triple-doubles and his most impressive one came in April of 1998 with Dallas, when he scored 22 points, grabbed 22 boards and blocked 13 shots.


The Good: Paul Pierce continues to do what he do, which is put up strong numbers across the board and hit big shots. They've won three straight with Al Jefferson averaging 16.3 points and 13.0 boards in the three games.

The Bad: Sebastian Telfair has not exactly grabbed the starting point guard spot by the horns. Theo Ratliff has played just two games and isn't expected back anytime soon. Like the Nets, the Celtics have been inconsistent.

The Fascinating: The two highest individual scoring games in the Celtics' 61-year history came within nine days of each other. On March 3, 1985, Kevin McHale set the franchise record with 56 points against Detroit. Nine days later, Larry Bird broke it with 60 against the Hawks (in New Orleans).


The Good: Eddy Curry. He has scored 20 or more points in 11 straight games, averaging 24.9 and 9.3 boards while shooting .593 over that stretch. He has folks rethinking that trade with Chicago and giving him some All-Star consideration. David Lee has provided great energy. Jared Jeffries' return should strengthen the defense and solidify the rotation.

The Bad: Channing Frye has been banged up. Steve Francis and Stephon Marbury have been, to put it nicely, inconsistent. They lack a true point guard.

The Fascinating: On Christmas Day 1960, the Knicks scored 100 points... and lost by 62 at Syracuse.


The Good: Chris Bosh keeps getting better. One rookie (Jorge Garbajosa) has been solid and the other (Andrea Bargnani - "Il Mago" as I have learned since yesterday) is starting to show us why he was the No. 1 pick.

The Bad: Bosh (knee) is currently on the shelf. They brought in T.J. Ford so that they could run more, and then they bagged the running game after a month? When it comes to rebounding differential, they're the worst team in the league at -5.86.

The Fascinating: T.J. Ford won the final 62 games of his (Willowridge - Sugar Land, Tex.) high school career.


The Good: They will be able to move on very soon. We hear the 2007 Draft will be pretty good.

The Bad: The two young players that might be best to build around are both wings (Andre Iguodala and Rodney Carney), so when looking towards the future, there are a lot of holes to fill.

The Fascinating: The Sixers' record for assists in a game is 21, held by current coach Mo Cheeks (Oct. 30, 1982) and... Wilt Chamberlain (Feb. 2, 1968).

Outlook

The pulse is faint, but the Atlantic is still breathing. The Nets have showed signs of regaining their focus and should eventually get back over .500. The Raptors and Knicks should improve as the season goes on and if the Celtics are a part of an Iverson deal (or any other deal for that matter), we may have to revisit this column very soon.

For more media guide fun, check out my man Ryan Jones' NBA Media Guide Reviews (Pt. 1) over at SLAM Online. We're waiting for Part 2, Ryan.