Cavs and Pacers

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Record:  50-32, 2nd in Central Division, 4th in Eastern Conference

Statistical Comparison:

Noteable:

4th in rebounding
26th in opponent turnovers

Others:

15th in the league in scoring (97.6ppg)
10th in opponent scoring (95.4ppg)
8th in ppg differential (+2.2)
16th in field goal %
18th in opponent field goal %
24th in three-point %
24th in assists
18th in steals
16th in blocks
10th in turnovers

Additions:  
Scot Pollard, David Wesley, Eddie Basden, Shannon Brown (R), Daniel Gibson (R)


Subtractions:  
Flip Murray, Alan Henderson, Mike Wilks, Zendon Hamilton, Marty Andriuskevicius

Key Players

PG:  Eric Snow, Shannon Brown, Daniel Gibson
SG:  Larry Hughes, Damon Jones, David Wesley, Aleksandar Pavlovic, Eddie Basden
SF:  LeBron James, Ira Newble, Luke Jackson, Stephen Graham
PF:  Drew Gooden, Anderson Varejao Donyell Marshall
C:   Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Scot Pollard

Comments:  Being a team on the rise last season, the Cavs didn't need to do much except stay the course.  They're exactly as good as LeBron makes them...no more, no less.  Odds are his star will shine even brighter this year, especially with the success and popularity of Dwyane Wade in Miami.  (NBA star-making machine...)  Ilgauskas and Gooden remain wonderful offensive complements in the frontcourt.  They're not fantastic defensively, but they'll do.  The rebounding on this team is superb and runs the length of the bench.  I love Anderson Varejao's game.  He'll only get better with more experience.  Scot Pollard is an upgrade over Alan Henderson.  They did lose Flip Murray but the reason they relied on him so heavily last season was the injury to Larry Hughes.  If Hughes is healthy this year they won't miss him and they'll love Larry's defense.  They could use an upgrade at point guard but really LeBron and Larry will handle the ball much of the time anyway, so no big deal.  Best bet is that Cleveland continues to rise and contends for the division crown.  They're probably not NBA champions, but they'll be plenty good.

INDIANA PACERS

Record:  41-41, 3rd in Central Division, 6th in Eastern Conference

Statistical Comparisons:

Noteable:

5th in opponent scoring (92.0ppg)
5th in opponent field goal %
26th in turnovers

Others:

23rd  in the league in scoring (93.9ppg)
9th (tie) in ppg differential (+1.9ppg)
24th in field goal %
18th in three-point %
8th in rebounding
19th in assists
11th in steals
13th in blocks
24th in opponent turnovers

Additions:  
Al Harrington, Marquis Daniels, Darrell Armstrong, John Edwards, Maceo Baston, Jimmie Hunter, Josh Powell, Orien Greene, Rawle Marshall, Shawne Williams (R), James White (R)


Subtractions:  
Peja Stojakovic, Fred Jones, Austin Croshere, Scot Pollard, Anthony Johnson,  Eddie Gill, Jonathan Bender, Samaki Walker

Key Players

PG:  Jamaal Tinsley, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Darrell Armstrong, Orien Greene
SG:  Stephen Jackson, Marquis Daniels
SF:  Danny Granger, James White, Shawne Williams, Rawle Marshall
PF:  Al Harrington, Maceo Baston, Josh Powell
C:  Jermaine O'Neal, Jeff Foster, David Harrison, John Edwards

Comments: The Pacers are coming off a lackluster season full of changes.  Away went the mercurial Ron Artest and his amazing, game-changing defense.  In came Peja Stojakovic and his amazing, yet somehow not game-winning, shooting.  Neither one worked.  The Pacers pulled the handle on the slot machine again and came up with old favorite Al Harrington, who figured out the grass isn't always greener just because you score more.  (Really any team with a complaining player should be allowed to ship them to Atlanta for a year or two on loan.  Works like a charm.) Harrington has a really nice all-around game and should help immediately.  On the other hand, between Stojakovic, Fred Jones, Scot Pollard, and Austin Croshere the Pacers did lose a lot of talent.  I'm not sure they made it up entirely.  O'Neal is the key to the team but he's also fragile.  If he goes down they're toast.  Management is unhappy with the starting backcourt of Jackson and Tinsley because the former is a headcase who shoots too much and the latter seems to have lost his passion for the game. (Ironically people are blaming this on JO, as he's "not enough of a leader".)  Unfortunately they're not going to like their bench guards either because there's scarcely a defender to be found among them.  Marquis Daniels is going to be the X-factor there.  If he fulfills his potential and becomes more consistent he could add athleticism they sorely need.  If he turns into Stephen Jackson Part Two that locker room is going to fracture.  To summarize: I like Harrington and O'Neal, I'm lukewarm on the backcourt, I don't like the frontcourt depth and I don't like the turmoil.  The Pacers should win 7-9 more this year but they're a bad break or a couple tantrums away from losing 7-9 more too.  Take your pick which direction will prevail.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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