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Blazersedge 2008-09 NBA Season Preview: Pacers and Cavaliers

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INDIANA PACERS

Record:  36-46, 3rd in Central Division, 9th in Eastern Conference

 

Statistical Comparisons

 

Notable:

26th in opponent scoring (105.4 ppg)

27th in turnovers

5th (tie) in opponent turnovers

 

Others:

7th in the league in scoring (104.0 ppg)

18th  in ppg differential (-1.4 ppg)

24th in field goal % 

9th in opponent field goal %

8th in three-point % 

17th in free throw attempts per game

12th in free throw percentage

7th in assists

11th in steals

9th in blocks

Poor offensive rebounding team

Good defensive rebounding team

 

Movement

 

Significant Additions:  T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Jarrett Jack, Maceo Baston, Brandon Rush (R), Roy Hibbert (R)

Significant Subtractions:  Jermaine O’Neal, Ike Diogu, Flip Murray, Kareem Rush

 

Roster

 

Coach:  Jim O’Brien

 

Key Players

PG: T.J. Ford, Jamaal Tinsley, Jarrett Jack

SG:  Mike Dunleavy, Brandon Rush, Marquis Daniels

SF:  Danny Granger, Shawne Williams

PF:  Troy Murphy, Maceo Baston

C:  Jeff Foster, Rasho Nesterovic, Roy Hibbert

 

Comments

 

 I’ve been trying to find a way to summarize how I feel about the Pacers’ chances now that they’ve made the Big Move and bid adieu to long-time (and oft-injured) star Jermaine O’Neal in favor of lightning quick (and oft-injured) T.J. Ford and a cast of mediocre players.  In the end, I had to fall back on my Dr. Seuss.

 

I do not like them, Pacer fans

I do not like them to a man

 

I do not like them in a box

I would not trade them for old socks

 

I do not like that center corps

They’ll struggle hard but never score

 

Would you like Dunleavy then?

 

Why no, indeed, I’ll say again

I would not like to ever trust

A guy so recently a bust

 

Then why not Granger, surely he

Appeals to such a man as thee

 

I do not like him here or there

Though scoring’s good and shooting’s fair

I would not give contract extensions

To guys who lack defense dimensions

 

But T.J. Ford you’d surely take?

He’s awful fast when on the break

 

I would not take him on my team

I would not take him with ice cream

He’ll run the break, then pull up lame

And sit in street clothes, such a shame

And let me see you try to run

With Jarrett Jack…Good luck!  Have fun!

 

I do not like this team you’ve hatched

They’re paper stars, but quite mismatched

They lack a rudder and an anchor

Their back-up point guard’s quite a canker

Their rookies might be overrated

Their power forward’s stats have faded

 

But would you, could you in a pinch?

You won’t enjoy them just an inch?

 

I would not, could not, not an inch

I’ll not back down, I will not flinch

It will not bring me joy a bit

To see these players play like…harrumph, well, that’s enough of that.

 

OK, maybe it’s not that bad.  But you’ve got to admit the Pacers are making the classic run at mediocrity, and those who shoot at mediocre usually end up short of it.  It’s a team of good players bereft of great ones, a team that’s already maxed its point potential but didn’t do anything to help its (self-)crippling defense.  They should still rebound well.  That’ll keep you in a lot of games.  Somewhere in the high 30’s or low 40’s would be about as many wins as you’d expect if things go right.  If things go wrong…ugh.  Jim O’Brien coaching this team may be their single most dependable asset.  He’s good.

 

Read more about the Pacers at one of my personal favorites, IndyCornrows.com

 

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Record:  45-37, 2nd in Central Division, 4th in Eastern Conference

 

Statistical Comparisons

 

Notable:

28th in field goal % 

28th in free throw percentage

 

Others:

24th in the league in scoring (96.4 ppg)

9th in opponent scoring (96.7 ppg)

16th  in ppg differential (-0.4 ppg)

10th in opponent field goal %

16th in three-point % 

15th in free throw attempts per game

25th in assists

18th in steals

7th in blocks

10th in turnovers

24th (tie) in opponent turnovers

Superb offensive rebounding team

Very Good defensive rebounding team

 

Movement

 

Significant Additions:  Mo Williams, Tarence Kinsey, J.J. Hickson (R)

Significant Subtractions:  Joe Smith, Damon Jones, Devin Brown

 

Roster

 

Coach:  Mike Brown

 

Key Players

PG:  Mo Williams, Daniel Gibson, Eric Snow

SG:  Sasha Pavlovic, Delonte West

SF:  Lebron James, Wally Szczerbiak

PF:  Ben Wallace, Anderson Varejao, J.J. Hickson

C:  Zydrunas Ilgauskas

 

Comments

 

When I lived in Minnesota I used to see people get their cars stuck in snow all of the time.  The routine was almost always the same.  Gun the motor until the tires spin.  Uh oh, now the snow is frozen into ice under the wheels.  OK, use your gloves to dig some of it out.  Now hit the gas again.  No good.  Maybe if I stick a board under the tires.  Ooof!  That’s hard to get in there.  Wait…I only have one board?  Oh well, maybe it’ll get one tire out.  OK, Jimmy…hold this board there while I gun it.  Hey!  That side moved a little!  Did you see that Jimmy!  Jimmy?  What do you mean “My hand?”  What about your hand?  Hmmm…go knock on that person’s door and see if they have any salt or ice melt.  Yes, yes, you can ask for a band-aid too.  Hey Jimmy!  Tell them cat litter might work too!

 

This is what the Cavs feel like to me.  Mo Williams is the latest board under the tire and Ben Wallace is the neighbor’s cat litter.  Maybe these will be the moves that get them unstuck.  Or maybe not.

 

It goes without saying that any team with LeBron James on it is going to be good.  But that’s the thing.  With the guy who’s going to end up the best player of his generation, likely without an argument, you don’t want good.  You want back in the Finals.  I don’t see Mo Williams and Ben Wallace getting them there any better than Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes did last year.  Whatever Williams gives you on offense Wallace will take away.  Reverse it on the other end.  Wallace has never been the same player since he left Detroit and you know Chicago wanted him to be their conference championship piece.  Mo Williams can score and he can pass, but the equation didn’t add up for him in Milwaukee and they needed a point guard.  It just doesn’t feel right.

 

The one thing the Cavs need to do this year to excel is open up the offense.  That’s part of why they acquired Williams and they need to set the engines full speed ahead.  They have the defense and rebounding to succeed.  They need to become more than a “LeBron scores again in the halfcourt” team.  Easy buckets, easy points, try to get around +4 for that point differential instead of breaking even.  That should get them into the playoffs with a nice seed again.  After that the real test comes.  I don’t see them getting past the teams ahead of them, but then maybe LeBron will prove that prediction stupid.

 

Read more about the Cavs at FeartheSword.com

 

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)