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2013 NBA Central Division Preview 

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The 2013 NBA Tip continues with the Central Division, which may be one of the best and most interesting divisions in the NBA. Derrick Rose is returning, as are the Pacers whom battled the Heat for the Eastern Conference title a year ago. Not to mention a potentially sneaky darkhorse...

How They Will Finish:

5. Bucks +6600

There is one thing I can promise this season, it’s that the Bucks will finish dead last in this division. They let Monta go and traded Brandon Jennings leaving them with just a couple of nice young pieces to possibly build around. Ersan Ilyasova really disappointed last year although Larry Sanders really came out of nowhere to show the potential to be a reliable big man. They also signed OJ Mayo, who could be a great fourth man on a championship team. But he’s their best player. Plus the rest of this division is just too loaded to think that even a fourth place finish would be possible.

4. Pistons +1600

I really like what the Pistons did in the offseason. They signed Josh Smith, traded for Brandon Jennings, drafted Peyton Siva and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. I like where they are headed. Their problems lie in the fact that Chauncey Billups is currently their starting Shooting Guard and that they will need some contributions off the bench from the likes of Kyle Singler, Charlie Villanueva, and Rodney Stuckey. The youth of Jennings, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe is a good thing that will only get better. Their ability to play Monroe, Drummond and Smith at the same time will create nightmares for opposing coaches.

3. Pacers +140

This is more or less the same team as last year. A team with a secretly awful bench. Since they have made some moderate moves by replacing Hansbrough with Scola and even stole Chris Copeland away from the Knicks as potential Danny Granger insurance. Copeland is certainly unproven but he may be able to at least keep Grangers minutes down during the season. The Pacers will be solid all season probably somewhere in the 5 seed range. Then when the collective playoff buttholes clench, they will be standing with a legit shot at beating whoever their opponent is with their defense and their teamwork instilled by one of the best coaches in the NBA, Frank Vogel.

2. Bulls -150

The obvious favorite in this division. Last year they finished just behind the Pacers last year without Derrick Rose, so they should be a shoo in for the division crown this year right? Not so fast. They replaced Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson, with 33 year old Mike Dunleavy and 40 year old Mike James, so their depth is not going to help them any. They will once again rely on the coaching as well as their former MVP D-Rose. However as far as the division goes, it’s going to be tough to just quickly jump back into a Derrick Rose offense. While there is certainly a chance they can just dive right back into it, because he does most of the work, the more likely scenario is that he, and the Bulls, look rusty early. Obviously they had to change their approach, offensively, a year ago and now will have to do that again for the second straight year. When you are jumping back into an offense that is carried so heavily by a guy that hasn’t played competitively in well over a year, you probably aren’t going to start off too hot. The Bulls are going to struggle early on but now that the Celtics have been dismantled they have more heart than anyone in the East and they proved that in the playoffs last year. Noah is maybe my favorite player in the NBA because of his toughness, his heart, and his energy and you can bet your house that they will be a factor when the lineups shrink and the games start to matter.

If the Bulls can stay healthy they have a nice starting five, that will be just fine, it’s just their bench that may see some extended struggles. Heinrich is a great guy to have coming off the bench, but I would not be too excited about him running the offense at the point. Also, they don’t really have a swingman off the bench that can lock anyone down. They have a rookie behind Luol Deng and Mike Dunleavy behind Jimmy Butler. Their depth scares me, but they are really one trade away from being the most feared team in the East.

If they want to win this division they are going to need coach Tom Thibodeau to have a year in which he wins the Coach of the Year award as he juggles that lineup. Which leads to the first major surprise of the year…

1. Cavaliers +1600

Here is the first real surprise that we will touch upon this year. I think there may be more, as a bit of the NBA power shifts among different teams. The main reason here is Kyrie Irving. This kid showed flashes of superstardom last year, while playing with a bunch of bums. The key for them is to stay healthy. While that is one big “if”, just look at their lineup, they may end up being loaded. Kyrie, Dion Waiters, Earl Clark, Tristan Thompson, Andrew Bynum, Anderson Varejao, Jarrett Jack, CJ Miles and number overall one pick Anthony Bennett. The only thing that may hold them back is Mike Brown’s second tenure in Cleveland. Without any major injuries I think this team goes on to catch, Indiana as a mediocre regular season team and Chicago as a team that will struggle early, enough to win this division. There haven’t been many teams that possessed the number #1 overall pick that then went on to win their divisions but count the 2013-14 Cavs as one and look for Kyrie Irving to win himself an MVP trophy along with it. However, if all this happens, you should be very excited to bet against them in the playoffs because the lack of experience, and coaching, will kill them in the end. But that won’t stop them from having a breakout regular season.

Best Bets:

Cavs to win the division 16-1

Pacers to win the division +140


Thursday, October 17, 2013

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