• July 22, 2023

Eastern Conference of the NBA. Central Division advance

The NBA Eastern Conference Central is the toughest division in basketball with the Pistons, Cavs, Bulls and Pacers all within easy reach. With the Pistons losing Ben Wallace, things get even tougher in the Central this season, but it looks like Detroit still has enough to take home another Central Division title.

Detroit Pistons: The Pistons lose Big Ben, but keep their other 4 All-Star-caliber players (Billups, Hamilton, Wallace and Prince) and put the more offensive-minded Nazr Mohammed at center position. I’m not saying the loss of Ben Wallace doesn’t bring the Cavs, Bulls and Pacers closer to the Pistons in the Central because he does. But we can’t forget how important a factor it is that these guys know how to play together. I like that Tayshaun Price has a breakout year and the Pistons are back in first place in center.

Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavs have improved every year since Lebron joined their franchise, but they’re not ready to surpass the Pistons just yet. Many pundits say the Cavs will be even better with a healthy Larry Hughes, but perhaps his absence was the reason for Cleveland’s success. He is a good defensive player, but prone to losing on offense. The Cavs would benefit more from a pure shooter playing from two points. Lebron will be the best player in the league, but he will fall short at Central.

Chicago Bulls: The Bulls get Big Ben, who is just a stronger version of Tyson Chandler, a great athletic defender and rebounder who can’t score. The Bulls will have one of the best defensive units in the league and good depth with Nocioni and Duhan, as well as rookies Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha coming off the bench. But what they really need is a number one scoring option to carry them on their backs in crucial situations. They will be destined for the playoffs, but they won’t get very far.

Indiana Pacers: Indiana still hasn’t recovered from the Ron Artest episode or should I say episodes. They’re still talented enough to compete for the Central title with the likes of O’Neal, Jackson, Tinsley and the acquisition of Al Harrington, but I don’t see them finishing better than third or fourth. We can count on Tinsley and O’Neal missing time with injuries again this season. They’ll make the playoffs as seven or eight, but that’s as far as they’ll go.

Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks are a decent basketball team and would probably compete for second place in the Atlantic Division, but they play in the toughest division in the NBA. Milwaukee will lose a step without TJ Ford, but I expect an even better season without Michael Redd. Andrew Bogut is the future of the Bucks. He won’t be ready to start on opening day and he won’t be ready to star in the league this season. The Bucks will find the base.

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