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Boston Celtics: The reigning champs lost a lot of their toughness when they let go of SF James Posey, but the Celtics are still the favourites to win the East. Their rookies, C Semih Erden and guards Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens, have seen little action this preseason and figure to play minor roles, if any, this year. PF Kevin Garnett won’t allow the champs to be content with just one title-this team will be strong once again.

Philadelphia 76ers: The acquisition of PF Elton Brand immediately makes the Sixers a contender in the East. The duo of Brand and C Samuel Dalembert is going to be a matchup nightmare for opposing offences. SF Andre Iguodala has done well since Allen Iverson’s departure, and is on the verge of becoming an elite player. The Sixers hope that their abundant talent will make up for their roster’s youth.

Toronto Raptors: Trading away T.J. Ford opens up the floor for the efficient PG Jose Calderon, who clearly established himself as a threat last season. PF Andrea Bargnani and SF Jason Kapono give Toronto size on the perimeter, allowing them to create more room inside. The addition of C Jermaine O’Neal gives Toronto the best frontcourt in the East with PF Chris Bosh. Those two must develop some chemistry if the Raptors are to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

New Jersey Nets: Don’t expect big results from the Nets, who are in the midst of rebuilding. SF Vince Carter, whose career is on the decline, is the centrepiece of this team. However, the Nets have added some upside in C Yi Jianlian, and rookie C Brook Lopez has performed well in the preseason. Lightning-fast Devin Harris will man the point and could make the all-star roster this season.

New York Knicks: With the arrival of Head Coach Mike D’Antoni and his run ‘n’ gun system, the Knicks should be as entertaining on the court this season as they were off the court last season. But New York is still loaded with bad players and ridiculous contracts. Unless they get rid of C Eddy Curry and PG Stephon Marbury, expect another sub-25 win season, despite bright spots like PFs David Lee and Wilson Chandler.