NBA Preview: Eastern Conference

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Central Division Predictions

Oct 25, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Indiana Pacers shooting guard Paul George (24) brings the ball up the court against the Dallas Mavericks during the first half at the American Airlines Center. The Pacers defeated the Mavericks 98-77. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

1)   Indiana Pacers

PG: George Hill/ C.J. Watson

SG: Lance Stephenson

SF: Paul George/Danny Granger

PF: David West/Luis Scola/Chris Copeland

C: Roy Hibbert

I can generally say that if you don’t like the Heat and LeBron, you are happy with what the Pacers did this season. They seem like the team that gives the Heat the most headaches

I don’t think there is a more complete team it the East than the Indiana Pacers.

Their depth is one of the best in the whole league and they have it at every position. The major question they have is how will Danny Granger fit into this team now that Paul George is their best player. Both need the ball to score but I hope Granger saw how well his team played last year, and just accepts his role so that the team can succeed. I think this team should make a run at Rondo if he’s available and send a package of Granger and his expiring contract, Lance Stephenson, and a 1st round pick.

2)   Chicago Bulls

PG: Derrick Rose/Kirk Henrich/Marquis Teague

SG: James Butler

SF: Luol Deng/Mike Dunleavy

PF: Carlos Boozer/ Taj Gibson

C: Joakim Noah

The Bulls aren’t far behind the Pacers but we all know it comes down to Derrick Rose. This team was a solid team without him but they become borderline elite with him. You know they are going to play defense under Coach Tom Thibodeau so if the offense can flow through Rose, the Bulls will be back. When it comes down to it though, I believe the Bulls need one more scoring piece. I think it would be a good idea to ask about Al Horford’s ability and try to pair him up with Noah to bring back those Florida glory days. If they can offer Boozer and his contract, Jimmy Butler, and a first round pick to Atlanta, I think it’s a no brainer if they accept.

3)   Detroit Pistons

PG: Brandon Jennings/Will Bynum/Peyon Siva

SG: Chauncey Billups/Rodney Stuckey/Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

SF: Josh Smith

PF: Greg Monroe

C: Andre Drummond/Josh Harrellson

The Detroit Pistons will be one of the more interesting teams in the East this season. They basically said no more rebuilding and are going forward with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe as their corner pieces. They had money to spend and instead of saving it and hoping a star landed there next season, which wasn’t likely; they spent their money on two All-Star caliber players.

Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings are extremely talented and are now surrounded with very good talent around them. All 5 starters are former 1st round picks. They also brought back city hero Chauncey Billups, who will bring major leadership to this team. 1st round pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has a high skill-set and will benefit from learning from Billups. I will bet that the Pistons lead the league in team rebounding this season but their major question is how will Josh Smith play as a full-time strong forward. He can’t really shoot and is known for his low-post play, but now he’s on a team with two giants. If the Pistons don’t make the playoffs this season, it will be a disappointment.

Oct 21, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) drives against the Philadelphia 76ers during the fourth quarter at Schottenstein Center. The Cavaliers won 104-93. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

4)   Cleveland Cavaliers

PG: Kyrie Irving/Jarrett Jack

SG: Dion Waiters/C.J. Miles

SF: Alonzo Gee/Anthony Bennett

PF: Tristan Thompson

C: Andrew Bynum/Anderson Varejo/Tyler Zeller

The Cavs want one major thing out of this season, and that is a fully healthy Kyrie Irving for 82 games. Irving is one of the best players in the league but seems to have nagging injuries. The Cavs are building the team around him and are very young with an upcoming team with Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and 2013 1st overall pick Anthony Bennett. The Andrew Bynum signing is up in the air because we haven’t seen him play since the Laker days, which seem like decades ago considering both him and the Lakers situations now.

I don’t know how to rank the Cavs because they are a team with many question marks. I am a huge Kyrie fan (how can you not be) and want him to succeed, but they are borderline mid-level team in the East at best. I can see the Cavs making the 8 seed and facing the Heat in the first round…Talk about a storyline.

5)   Milwaukee Bucks

PG: Brandon Knight/Luke Ridnour

SG: O.J. Mayo/Gary Neal

SF: Caron Butler

PF: Ersan Ilyasova/John Henson

C: Larry Sanders/Zaza Pachulla

The Bucks saw their two best players leave this season but it actually might have been for the better. They don’t have ball dominant players anymore and have a pretty nice team on paper. Ridnour is underrated and plays a nice point guard. OJ Mayo finally has his chance to be “the man” on a team. Caron Butler is a vet but I think he will be traded to a contender near the deadline. The frontcourt of Ilysaova and Sanders is fun to watch on both ends of the court. I think Brandon Knight takes advantage of his new team and shows his potential. The only thing about the Bucks is that I just think the other teams in the division are better.

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