The Southwest is the best division in the league. There’s not even close second. Last season, the division posted a combined 249 – 161 record (.607), besting the second place Northwest by a ridiculous 35 wins. The defending champion San Antonio Spurs reside here along with their playoff peers from last season in Houston, Dallas and Memphis. New Orleans, the runt of the division, isn’t too far from the playoffs themselves. The battle for divisional supremacy spilled off the court this summer, as three significant players changed teams within the division.
Archive for the ‘Previews’ Category
While the Southeast Division lacks a one percent title contender, it doesn’t host any tanking welfare mongers either. Four of the five squads in the division are expected to make the playoffs, and together they comprise the majority of the Eastern Conference’s middle class. The Wizards and Hornets are presumably the top teams in the division, but neither has the offensive firepower to keep up with the Cavaliers, or the depth and toughness to match the Bulls. The Heat and Hawks each field all-stars and appear to be 40-plus win teams themselves, but as the conference has grown deeper there are less cupcakes on the schedule to gorge on and fatten their win totals. The Magic are the little brother of the division, tagging along to the pickup game. This is a maturation season for Orlando, and they could contend for the playoffs as soon as next season.
The Central division should be called the crippled division. At the start of the past two seasons, this division has appeared to have two of the top three teams in the East; however, injuries have kept that from actually happening. Derrick Rose missed the past two seasons and kept the Bulls from playing their best, while the Pacers played like the top team behind only Miami. The bad luck continues for the Central division entering the 2014-2015 season. During the offseason, Paul George injured his leg in a FIBA Team USA intrasquad scrimmage and is facing a long rehab and recovery process.
This year the Cavs will surely be the best team in the East, and the Bulls will probably be the second best. The Pacers could have been the third best. The central division looks to be one of the best in the league going into the future, and it will only continue to get better as Detroit and Milwaukee turn their franchises around with new coaches and young talent.
The Cavs will be left out of this preview, so that they can be dealt with properly in their own piece in the coming weeks. (more…)
The Atlantic Division – the teams here are filled with greatness, with history, with winning…except in 2014. What was once a division held to the highest of standards – Larry Legend! Dr. J! Walt! Vince Carter! (haaaa) – is now replete with mid-level mediocrity. To make matters worse, unlike their Eastern brethren to the south and west, the majority of Atlantic teams won’t see substantial improvements in the upcoming years. In short, don’t expect much from the Northeast this year. Lets examine…
The Pacific division looks better than it actually is on first view. However, when you really examine all the Pacific teams, it’s hard to see any of them making it to the finals. These teams are second tier at what they may do best. The Warriors might be able to run and get a bunch of threes, but the Thunder can run faster and probably shut some teams down on the defensive end. The Clippers have a hyper efficient offense led by the brainiac Chris Paul, but the Spurs offense is still better. Even the revamped Mavericks could challenge any team in the Pacific behind a Dirk led offense and Rick Adelman/Tyson Chandler anchored defense.
Oklahoma City Thunder:
Coming off his first MVP award, Kevin Durant is poised to take the next championship step in his NBA career. At least that is the narrative for an OKC Thunder squad that remains largely intact after a quiet off-season. The 2013-2014 team was arguably the second best team in the NBA after losing a tough Western Conference Finals to the Spurs. A rested Kevin Durant(sans USA play) and healthy seasons from Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka should ensure another 60 win season.
Additions: Mitch McGary (rookie), Anthony Morrow (New Orleans), Sebastian Telfair.
Subtractions: Caron Butler (Detroit), Thabo Sefolosha (Atlanta) Derek Fisher (Knicks coach) Hasheem Thabeet (Pistons)
The Cavs have won 5 of 6 at the Q while the Pistons have won 6 of 7 on the road. So something’s gotta give tonight, the last game the Cavs play before Christmas.
Dion Waiters is still out with a wrist injury. The Pistons lead the NBA in offensive rebounding percentage, while defending against o-boards has recently been an area of concern for the Cavs. The Pistons are a strange team in that they have a deep roster of talent and absolutely no glue guys to make the concoction palatable. They have a team of black holes: Drummond, Monroe, and Stuckey, and two gunners that are forced to create offense for said black holes: Jennings and J Schmoove. They lead the NBA in points in the paint, which makes sense given their personnel and offensive rebounding acumen. You can find some games where appear terrifying – like the time they beat the Heat by 10 in Miami with a total team effort.
Let’s hope the Cavs break out of the Waiters-less funk they’re in tonight.
Sound off in the comment section during games.
It was a decision made in the heat of a waning summer. We, your Cavs: The Bloggers, would look to irrigate the NBA’s barren season by checking in with every NBA team — we’d look at their off season and imagine how they might match up with your Cleveland Cavaliers — because previews … previews, young reader, are what August and September are all about.
And we came so freaking close to getting them all done!
But, as Alonzo Gee will tell us in November and Earl Clark will remind us in March, starting is not what’s important. Finishing is what’s important.
So, without further ado, here is you Cavs: The Blog super-short, insultingly quick primer to the 2013-14 Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets and (in a Pacific Division oversight) Los Angeles Clippers.
It’s hard not to be down on the Thunder heading into this season. For a team that features one (and often two) of the game’s transcendent talents, a team whose rise to contender-dom has been so studied as to have a rebuilding model named after them, a team that features so many cool backpack/bow tie/dark-rimmed prescription-less eye glasses, it’s tough to think that the bloom may already be off the rose. Of course, one (lingering) knee injury, a widely criticized trade, so-so coaching and general silence in the offseason can do that. Let’s check in with OKC:
If nothing else, this off-season showed us that there’s not just one way to blow up an NBA roster. When it’s time to hit the reset button, NBA fans, you don’t have to settle for seeing your franchise cornerstone get traded and watch while all the other contracts on the roster are flipped for dimes on the dollar. Oh, no. You could be like the Utah Jazz who proved, to only slightly misquote Gerard Manley Hopkins (yeah, English majors!), they also tank who only stand and wait.
Last Season: All season long, the Jazz dominated … or, at least, they dominated for the title of “most trade rumors involving your team’s two best players.” In the end, though, neither Al Jefferson and his 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds a game nor Paul Millsap’s 14.6 points and 7.1 boards were moved. As a result, the Jazz weren’t horrible at playing basketball well past the trading deadline, only falling out of the race for the final Western Conference playoff spot in the season final week. The Jazz finished a meh 43-39 behind the meh head coaching of Tyrone Corbin and were staring at a roster of equal parts developing young players and veterans that were either full-on meh or just a little bit meh. Where could all this meh be headed, you ask?