Friday, December 02, 2005

Triple-Threat: Central Division

Where Bronnie take off for this one? Akron?

1. DETROIT (11-2)

LIKE: Honestly, what’s not to like? While the team defense remains one the best in the league (91.0 PPG), Flip Saunders also has his club scoring 5.6 PPG more than a year ago (98.9) and looking like the early favorites to take the East. Add to it that their star shooter, Rip Hamilton, is currently stroking at a mind-boggling 52.1% from the floor and 52.6% from 3. To put this in perspective, there is only one other player in the league who attempts at least 16 shots a night while shooting over 50%, and that’s Elton Brand. Hamilton just gets better and better every year, as does this entire Pistons team.

HATE: The only thing I can admit I truly hate about this team is the night they toyed with my Celtics for three-quarters. There I am watching the game on my computer (because that’s pretty cool in itself), and the Celts are cruising along, even up by double digits at one point. Then all of a sudden, the Pistons stop screwing around and end up winning by 15. I really think they have Rasheed Wallace come up with new challenges every night, i.e., “Yo, I bet you guys two O.E. 40s that we can let up a double-digit lead in the 3rd and then come back and win by more than 10. Any takers?” It seems like they have to do this in order to stay focussed.

SLEEPER: Not going to happen on this team, sorry. Every starter plays 32+ per night which means that no one on the bench is ever going to get enough run to impact your squad.

2. CLEVELAND (10-4)

LIKE: In case you missed Bill Simmons article, which ranked every NBA team to date, here’s what he had to say about the Cavs: “Saddest ongoing subplot: The erosion of LeBron's passing skills. Here's a guy who sees the court like Magic and used to delight in setting up his teammates ... now he's hoisting up 29 shots in some games? What happened to the guy who made everyone else better? Remember the days when we wondered whether he would average a triple-double for a season? Long gone. Honestly, I liked watching him more as a rookie.”

Um, hi Bill. LBJ is actually “hoisting up” 1.1 less shots per game and has managed to raise his FG% by 1.7%. Maybe the reason his passing skills are “eroding” has to do with the fact that Larry Hughes is a pretty darn good passer himself and with his presence James doesn’t have to be God on every trip up the floor. Plus, we’re only 14 games into the season—who’s to say that LeBron won’t start racking up more dimes in the coming weeks? I think it’s far too early in the season (and especially in his career) to say that the odds of LeBron averaging a trip-dub one season are long gone. C’mon Bill.

HATE: Couple their losses @San Antonio by 26 and @Indiana by 22, with the fact that the best teams they’ve beaten (before Wednesday night’s overtime win over a Clippers team that was playing back-to-back contests) have been Philly (8-8) and Washington (7-7), and we have to wonder how good Cleveland truly is. Sure they are going to make the Playoffs, but what happens when they go up against a Detroit, Miami, or Indy? At this juncture, I suspect that they wouldn’t last 5 games.

SLEEPER: Everyone owns LeBron, Hughes, and Big Z; no one wants Eric Snow or Damon Jones; and Donyell and Gooden are probably gobbled up already. So whom does that leave? With Anderson Varejao out for up to 5 months, I don’t think it’s fair to label anyone as a sleeper at this point.

3. INDIANA (9-5)

LIKE: Ron Artest’s new haircut. He knows he can’t do anything crazy this season because David Stern has him on a shorter leash than Rin Tin Tin in a china shop. So what does he go and do? Shaves “Tru Warier” (his record label) into the back of his head. For some strange reason I really like him and Terrell Owens. Does that mean I’m crazy?

HATE: I feel betrayed for labeling Indy as legitimate Finals contenders and then watching them lose to Charlotte and Atlanta AT HOME! It’s kind of like you and your high school buddies recognizing some girl as the hottest in the class and then she goes and hooks up with some major doof. Everyone is stunned, no one knows what to make of it, and you’ll never look at her the same ever again. Until of course, she starts to hit on you. (Translation: we may be down on them now, but once they piece together that 15-game win streak in January, all will be forgotten).

SLEEPER: I’m still going with PG Sarunas Jasikevicius here. It’s just a matter of time (perhaps minutes) before Tinsley goes down with yet another big injury. So when Saras is tallying 35+ minutes a night, is 17, 3, 6, 1.5, really that far-fetched? I don’t think so.

4. MILWAUKEE (7-6)

LIKE: Besides Hughes and Donyell Marshall, have two players impacted any team this season more than TJ Ford and Jamaal Magloire? Remember that without these guys, Mo Williams and Andrew Bogut would be forced into starting roles, simultaneously creating huge holes in the Milwaukee bench. But instead, the Bucks now have the luxury of bringing perhaps the league’s best backup point as well as the #1 overall pick off of their pine. That right there could be the difference between a 4 or 5 seed and missing the Playoffs altogether. (And speaking of Ford, is John Lucas Sr. working part-time as God? Who has the ability to bring a player back from a serious neck injury to putting up near double-doubles on a nightly basis? I hope Dennis Byrd and Mike Utley have his number.)

HATE: Who has anything hateful to say about a team that just downed the Mavericks without two starters, including Michael Redd? Also, have you looked at the schedule they played thus far? Absolutely brutal. The Bucks are going to be an extremely tough out in this year’s Playoffs.

SLEEPER: I think we’d all be nuts to think that Ford will be healthy for a full 82-game stretch. In that case, if your league allows for a horde of bench spots, I’d hop on Mo Williams while you can (uh, or just pick him up). Don’t forget that he averaged over 6 assists and nearly a steal per game last season. That could come in really handy for the few weeks that TJ is bound to miss.

5. CHICAGO (7-6)

LIKE: Andres Nocioni, Luol Deng, and Ben Gordon. I love these guys, I’m not going to lie, but why the hell are they not all receiving 30+ minutes per night? Nocioni is filling up a new stat every night; Deng is averaging 14.8 PPG every time he gets 30+; and BG is just too damn explosive a scorer not to be getting more touches. My guess is that Scott Skiles is trying to find his best 8 and give them all equal time. But if it means hindering any of these three of PT, something has to give, and soon.

HATE: Proneness to fouls. Do you realize that the Bulls are allowing their opponents 8.2 more free throws per game? Why not just start the game down 8-0? I guess this is one of the issues a team faces when fielding a young roster.

SLEEPER: Nocioni. I just picked this guy up in my public league, sitting there with the likes of Johan Petro, Jerome James, and Deng Gai. Does he have AIDS or something? Come on people, you’re making this too easy for me.


At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, you said you watched the Celts-Pistons game on your exactly did you do that? I am in an apartment that doesn't allow sattelite so I can't get the League Pass, but can you do that on the computer?

At 6:23 PM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

Hey man, sorry to get you more excited than Jason Biggs with Nadia in American Pie. I just watch the Game Channel on Yahoo! that is basically an up-to-the-minute (or so they say) log of the game. I don't actually see players. Yeah, my life sucks.

At 7:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That GameChannel has destroyed over half of my research papers this semester...damn you Yahoo!


At 9:26 AM, Blogger BostonBlows said...

Celtics blow and the only team they are better then in the Atlantic are the Raptors. Those scrubs are going nowhere. They have a bunch of cocky stupid mofos that don't know how to play basketball. I feel sorry for Celtic fans....


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