Yesterday, I gave you my Atlantic Division Preview. With three teams (Boston, Philadelphia, and Toronto) grabbing playoff spots, only five remain for the other two Eastern Conference divisions. Who is going to take the cake in the Central?
Continue reading after the jump...
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Players to watch: TJ Ford, Mo Williams, Richard Jefferson, Derrick Rose, Rodney Stuckey, Aaron Afflalo, and Amir Johnson.
* Detroit Pistons (57-25) - The Pistons have turned out winning season after winning season for so long that it is just a given anymore. With all the veteran leadership on the team, another successful season should be on the horizon. However, Joe Dumars has set this team up for success well into the future with draft gems like Rodney Stuckey, Aaron Afflalo, Amir Johnson, and Jason Maxiell. It's crazy to think that they should have had Carmelo Anthony on this team too. Prediction: Eastern Conference Finals...again.
* Cleveland Cavaliers (54-28) - I see the Cavs closing the gap some with the Pistons, but still a second place finish is what I see happening. It will be interesting to see how LeBron will do with new point, Mo Williams. If Delonte West can come back from his mood disorder and Wally World can find his shooting stroke again, this team could run deep into the playoffs. Prediction: 2nd round of playoffs.
* Indiana Pacers (42-40) - Some of you may disagree with me putting the Pacers over the Bulls, but I am taking the homer pick. The key for this team is going to be the play of new point guards, TJ Ford and Jarrett Jack. This team will go as far as those two and the team defense will take them. A couple other factors in the success of the team will be Mike Dunleavy staying healthy the whole season and the maturity of the rookies, Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert. Prediction: 8th seed, 1st round loss in playoffs.
* Chicago Bulls (38-44) - They couldn't win last season with the "core" that John Paxson had assembled and all they did this season was lose Chris Duhon and add Derrick Rose. It is an upgrade, but unless some guys hit their shots this season (Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich), Rose won't matter. Prediction: Vinny Del Negro tries to enter a game as a player/coach.
* Milwaukee Bucks (24-58) - So they traded away Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons for Richard Jefferson. Good start. But, then they didn't hold onto Mo Williams OR trade Charlie Villanueva. On top of that, they drafted Joe Alexander and Luc Mbah a Moute and acquired both Luke Ridnour and Damon Jones. Now, they have a traffic jam of perimeter players and not very much talent on the inside. No, Dan Gadzuric and Matt Freije don't count. Prediction: Scott Skiles kicks Charlie Villanueva out of every practice for wearing his headband.