Atlantic Notes: McCullough, Raptors, Grant

Nets fans seeking a sliver of hope for the future of the team can look to the impending return of 2015 first-rounder Chris McCullough, who recently began practicing on a limited basis with his teammates, Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes. “It felt great to be out there finally doing some 5-on-5 contact. It felt great,’’ said McCullough. “Every step I take is big. Right here playing 5-on-5 contact is definitely a big step, and it just feels great to be out there.’’

The forward isn’t likely to see any game action until after the All-Star break, though that timetable is just an estimate at this point, Lewis notes. “I’m not really sure right now [when I’ll debut]. I’m just limited in what I can do. … I just take it day by day,’’ McCullough said. “It was good [to practice]. Just have to get accustomed to the speed of the game, and stuff. I haven’t had a 5-on-5 contact practice since last January. I just have to get accustomed to it and I’ll be good.’’

Here’s what else is happening around the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors coach Dwane Casey believes this year’s roster is better prepared for the playoffs than the 2014/15 version, which is the result of the team’s offseason moves designed to make them tougher defensively, Mike Ganter of The Toronto Sun writes. “I think this year we’re grittier, it’s not as pretty but I think we’re grittier, grimier and I think those type of games help you win against good teams down the stretch or in tough situations,” Casey said after Wednesday night’s game against the Wizards. “Does it make you win every night? No, but it gives you a better chance and that’s the difference between this year and last year is just our entire disposition. We have a tougher disposition, I think, from a coaching standpoint.
  • The Sixers are encouraged by the play of Jerami Grant at the power forward spot, and the team believes he may have a future in the league as a stretch-four, Brian Seltzer of relays. “I think he’s a modern day four-man,” coach Brett Brown said. “Look at what he’s going to be when his body gets older. He can play three for sure, and he’s that versatile that when you say, there’s small-ball, you got a person.

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