By By A. Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON – For years, the Atlantic Division has taken a back seat to just about every one of its divisional brethren in the NBA.
Times have changed to the point where you no longer hear those Atlantic/Titanic references as much.
In Boston, you have the odds-on favorite to get to the NBA Finals being led by established stars Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford as well as on-the-rise studs in Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier.
Philadelphia boasts a youthful, star-studded roster, headlined by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, that appears to be Boston’s stiffest competition for Eastern Conference supremacy.
The Toronto Raptors took a sledgehammer to their core by parting ways with coach Dwayne Casey and the franchise’s leading scorer DeMar DeRozan in the offseason. From underneath the rubble of change emerged Kawhi Leonard, who, when healthy – and that’s a big "if" right now considering he spent most of last season sidelined with a quadriceps injury – is arguably the best two-way player in the NBA and gives the Raptors more than just a puncher’s chance at leap-frogging Boston and Philadelphia.
New York and Brooklyn aren’t title contenders this season, but are trending in the right direction to at least be competitive. For years that hadn't been the case with either...