Early-season fear that the Atlantic Division champion wouldn’t deserve its automatic high seeding in the playoffs has subsided, with the Raptors holding the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. The fast-charging Nets are three games back, but the most compelling stories out of the Atlantic seem to come from the teams that are below .500. Here’s news on the Knicks, Sixers and Celtics:
- A source tells Frank Isola of the New York Daily News that Phil Jackson plans to live “in New York 35% of the time and make it look like 50%” (Twitter link). In contrast, Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck hears from Jackson confidants who say he wouldn’t be taking the Knicks job if he didn’t intend to move to the Big Apple.
- Analytics fascinate Jackson, who’ll probably further the use of advanced metrics in a Knicks front office that’s been slow to adopt them, Beck writes in the same piece.
- Sixers coach Brett Brown is enamored with Jarvis Varnado, and it’s because of his defense, observes Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News. The Sixers, who signed Varnado on Wednesday to a multiyear contract, give up the third most points per possession in the league, according to NBA.com.
- Pacers coach Frank Vogel believes the Celtics provide the right environment for friend Brad Stevens. Vogel is particularly high on president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, saying he’s “at the top of that list” of executives a coach would want to work for. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald has the details.