Previewing The NBA’s Central Division According To Bloggers | Truth About It.net

Previewing The NBA’s Central Division According To Bloggers

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Updated: October 17, 2008

Jeff from CelticsBlog.com is doing the grunt work to put together a comprehensive NBA preview from bloggers ’round the ‘sphere. The Atlantic Division Preview was first, the Southwest Division was second, and now the Central Division is out. Here are the highlights from the participating bloggers for each team, click on the blog links to see the full team preview:

Chicago Bulls

[Give Me The Rock]
Non-player goals would be to try to trade some expendable players to get help at the SG position. Yes, I know that Ben Gordon is on the team, but, while I can’t deny his scoring ability, at 6′ 3″ (and apparently a smaller 6′ 3″ than Derrick Rose) I’ve always felt his height was a liability and that the Bulls would have a very hard time making it through the playoffs with him as the go-to guy. Prediction: 42-40

[Blog-A-Bull]
One major goal is to get the team’s defense back to what it before last season, a top-5 unit that thrived on hassling opponents into bad shots and turnovers. With the personnel mostly constant from those happier times, the onus is on Del Negro to get the team motivated on that end of the floor. Likely years away from being a great offense, the return to a top defensive team is imperative if they hope to challenge for a playoff spot, which is the ultimate aspiration for the team this season. Prediction: 43-39

Cleveland Cavaliers

[Waiting For Next Year]
LeBron got a taste of winning a title at the highest level when he helped lead Team USA to the gold in Beijing. If LeBron looks to carry over the intensity he played with in the Olympics, this could be a big year for the Cavaliers. Mo Williams give the Cavaliers their first legit PG probably since they let Andre Miller walk away. With Daniel Gibson providing steady outside shooting, Delonte West and Anderson Varejao providing the intangibles, Ben Wallace clinging to whatever he has left in his tank to play as solid defense as he can, and with Zydrunas Ilgauskas still playing at an above average level, this is probably the strongest team LeBron has had around him since he entered the NBA. Prediction: 50-32

[Fear The Sword]
A Divisional Title, a top-2 seed in the playoffs and a trip back to the Finals. The Cavaliers have the best player in the game and a decent set of pieces around him to make that happen. The Cavaliers also possess a $13.5 million bullet in the form of Wally Szczerbiak’s expiring contract. Should the need arise come February for the Cavaliers to make a move to bring in an impact player, Danny Ferry has the tools at his disposal to make that happen. Prediction: 53-29

[20 Second Timeout]
Media “experts” annually underestimate how well the Cavaliers will do. Last season, some pundits even predicted that the Cavaliers would miss the playoffs the year after going to the NBA Finals! Many people expect make the mistake of simply looking at the names on Cleveland’s roster; they see LeBron James and little else that excites them and then they assume that the team is not that good. They fail to understand that Cleveland’s commitment to defense and rebounding not only makes the Cavaliers a formidable team but that this style is even more effective in the playoffs, when the game slows down and each possession becomes even more important. Prediction: 55-27

[Cavalier Attitude]
This organization did what they needed to do, and given the hand they were dealt, the Cavaliers came out exceptionally well this summer. They went out and got a big-time point guard. They did their homework for draft day. They avoided contract holdouts and further disruptions in team chemistry. Prediction: 54-28

Detroit Pistons

[Empty The Bench]
The expectations from the owner, team management, players, coaches, and fans for these Detroit Pistons are the same as they’ve been for the better part of the last decade: a NBA title. Despite six consecutive appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals, however, they’ve only made the Finals twice in that span, winning it all in 2005.

Will the seventh time prove to be charm? Very few think so, but I’m optimistic despite that horrendous, hard-to-watch performance against the Celtics a few months ago. He might be a rookie coach, but Curry is going to instill a greater sense of accountability within the players than Saunders ever did, and the veterans now have a young, hungry group of youngsters to contend with who will push them for minutes. Say what you will about this Pistons core, but there’s no denying their overall success and ability to get the ‘W’ on most nights. Prediction: 53-29

[Need 4 Sheed]
With Detroit a perennial fixture in the Eastern Conference Finals and just one NBA title to show for it, the goal for this season is the Larry O’Brien or bust. And I literally mean bust, this is likely the last time Chauncey, Rip, Sheed, Tayshaun, and Antonio McDyess will have their chance to pull it off together . All or nothing, and this team has had their share of nothing. Prediction: 53-29

[Detroit Bad Boys]
As currently constructed, yes. Joe Dumars decided against making drastic change last summer, but he may not have a choice after this year. Rasheed Wallace will be an unrestricted free agent next summer and Rip Hamilton has the option of being one. And those are just the starters — the bench might lose Jason Maxiell (restricted free agent), Walter Herrmann (unrestricted), Kwame Brown (player option), Cheikh Samb (restricted), Alex Acker (restricted). Not all of those guys will be missed, but not all those guys will be coming back, either. If Rodney Stuckey lives up to expectations in the first half, I won’t be surprised at all to see Hamilton and/or Wallace dealt in a blockbuster at the deadline. Prediction: 55-27

Indiana Pacers

[Indy Cor
nrows
]

The empty green seats at the Fieldhouse spread like poison ivy last year as fed up fans refused to invest any emotion or ticket money into a short-handed team with top players who didn’t appear to care. The massive roster changes by Larry Bird over the summer as well as an active PR campaign pushing a positive view of the players combined to entice the local public into giving the Pacers a fresh look.

The team’s slogan this year is, “Ignite the Passion. Restore the pride.” There can’t be full ignition until Jamaal Tinsley is traded simply because, even though he’s not with the team, he remains a story. The Pacers hope the fan base will rally around their assembled group of good guys playing basketball the right way and find a reason to keep following the team throughout the season. Prediction: 40-42

Milwaukee Bucks

[The Bratwurst]
Now that John Hammond has had a few months to work his magic, I can’t help but feel a little … underwhelmed. What’s got me so down? Maybe it’s just a dose of reality. It’s not easy to rebuild an NBA team — lets face it, when you make a trade the only reason teams will make them with you is because they want to get rid of the guy you are dealing for. Not everyone can get the my-good-friend-is-the-most-inept-GM-in-all-of-sports-and-has-a-Kevin-Garnett-to-trade discount that Danny Ainge got. You can’t expect a 25 win team to become a 50 win team overnight. Prediction: 38-44

[Brew Hoop]
On paper, the Bucks would appear to at least have the talent to compete with teams like the Wizards, Hawks, Bulls, Heat, Wizards and Pacers for the final East playoff spots. That’s not an overwhelming endorsement considering none of those teams is close to legitimate contention, but the Bucks can at least consider themselves in the mix. Then again, you could have made the same argument in previous seasons, when various combinations of injuries, coaching, inexperience, and terrible chemistry doomed the Bucks to mid-lottery purgatory. Prediction: 37-45