Atlantic Division One Of The NBA's Toughest; More Moultrie?
If the 2012-13 NBA Playoffs began today, half of the participating teams from the Eastern Conference would hail from the Atlantic Division.
Considered by many to be the best division in basketball, the Atlantic features four teams over .500, with the Knicks leading the way at an Eastern Conference-best 14-4. With more than three quarters of the 2012-13 season left on the schedule, the Nets (11-6), Sixers (10-8), and Celtics (10-8) all remain well within striking distance.
“This is the best I’ve seen the Atlantic Division since I’ve been a Celtic,” said forward Paul Pierce, the division's longest-tenured member (14 seasons), at shoot-around Friday morning. “Usually you have one, two, maybe three teams (competing for the Atlantic Division title). Right now, we feel like the division is wide open and any of the teams in the Atlantic (with the exception of the 4-15 Toronto Raptors) could win it.”
This weekend, the Sixers and Celtics will be presented with a valuable opportunity to fortify their own position within the division. The two teams will play a home-and-home series, beginning Friday night in Philadelphia and concluding Saturday night in Boston. Both teams will come out looking not only to bolster their own record, but also to stymie their opponent and push them further back in the standings.
“It’s always great to have a rivalry,” said Sixer forward Thaddeus Young. “You can go in and look forward to (these games) and the fans get really anxious and they love those types of games.
“I think (these two games will be a good gauge of where we are as a team).”
These two games will be the twelfth and thirteenth meetings between the Sixers and Celtics in the last nine months; the Sixers hold a 6-5 advantage in the 11 games that have already been played.
Moultrie In The Rotation Tonight?
As rookie big man Arnett Moultrie continues to adjust to the speed, intensity, and demanding regimen of the league and of life playing in it, he’s taken a backseat – at least as far as game action is concerned – to some of the team’s veteran frontcourt players. Through 18 regular season games, the Mississippi State product has seen just 37 minutes of floor time.
In Tuesday’s 88-105 home loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the 6-10, 245-pound Moultrie logged a season-high 11 minutes, showing flashes of the impressive potential that prompted the Sixers to trade a future first-round draft pick to the Miami Heat for his rights on draft night.
The 27th-overall selection in the 2012 draft, he scored four points and pulled down four rebounds. More impressive than his raw output, though, was the way in which he attained those numbers. Despite playing just 11 minutes, he got to the free-throw line five times; additionally, three of his four boards came on the offensive end.
Following shoot-around Friday morning, assistant coach Brian James indicated that the rookie would likely be a part of the Sixers’ rotation again, as they take on the division-rival Celtics in the first game of a home-and-home series.
Posted: 1:45 PM, December 7, 2012