For a few years now, we've had the luxury of ignoring our own division for the most part. The Knicks were always waiting for next year, the Raptors were still recovering from the Vince Carter era, the Nets were rebuilding, and the Sixers were just sort of stuck in neutral. Now the Knicks are loaded on offense, the Raptors are at least enjoying the growth of Bargnani, the Nets are players for Dwight Howard, and the Sixers just so happen to be at the top of the standings right now. But are they legit?
Here’s what I’m prepared say about the Sixers, sitting at 6-2, sporting a top-five offense and a top-five defense, leading the Atlantic Division and looking like a top-five overall team in the eyes of many: This is a very good team, one worth rooting for if you like unselfish, disciplined team basketball on both ends of the floor. They may well win the Atlantic Division, with Boston struggling to find itself (and probably content with the sixth seed if it comes to it) and the Knicks doing a yin-yang by the day. They are athletic, young, deep and long on the perimeter, and they will be an absolute pain for any opponent on any night. But let’s go easy on putting them among the league’s elite, despite the hot start.
We'll see if they can maintain this pace or if it is one of those flukes of a lockout shortened season. Regardless, it doesn't seem like the Celtics will be able to slide through the Atlantic Division any longer.
For more on the Sixers as "media darlings" see our friends' take over at Liberty Ballers.
By the way, here's a quick look at where some "Power Rankings" slot the Celtics.