06 December 2010
Over the course of the season, we're going to have some guest contributors at HttH. One of those is Mike Loszach, the former sports editor at the Downers Grove South blueprint, and avid Chicago sports fan. I appreciate Mike writing up a few thoughts about the team. You can catch his comments at the end of most of the posts here.
Mike is a huge Cubs fan, and an even larger Northwestern basketball and football fan. He's been following the Bulls since he was young, and has great thoughts on the team. He breaks down the Central division, through the first quarter of the season.
Chicago Bulls (10-8, 1st Place)
The Bulls have to be happy with where they are at this point in the season. I, like many other Bulls fans, expected a slow start out of the team. Not only were they without Carlos Boozer for the first 15 games of the season, but they also had to take their annual West Coast circus trip at the end of November. The trip is one that Bulls fans have come to dread because of their past struggles in it. However, the team finally broke through and had their first winning Circus trip since the days of Michael Jordan, which included nice wins at Dallas and Phoenix. Perhaps more encouraging was how competitive the team was in its losses, playing the Spurs and Lakers tough, and taking the Nuggets down to the last possession in a game that they played without Derrick Rose. Make no mistake about it, the Bulls schedule has not been a cake walk so far this season. To be in first place, with the circus trip and the Boozer injury behind them, is very encouraging for the Bulls moving forward.
Prediction: Division Championship (49-53 win range)
Indiana Pacers (9-9, 1 GB)
The Indiana Pacers are off to a nice start to the season, highlighted by road wins against the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers. Danny Granger has led the way with 21.4 PPG and they have also gotten very nice contributions from Roy Hibbert, averaging nearly a double-double with 15.6 PPG and 8.8 RPG. They will be an interesting team to watch going forward. At times, they have looked really impressive, in particular the five game stretch where they won at Miami, at Los Angeles, and vs. Cleveland, while losing very close games to Orlando and Oklahoma City. However, at other points in the season they have struggled, losing by 26 at Philadelphia and dropping a home game against Houston (granted that loss looks worse now than it did then.) December 13th at Chicago should be a fun test for them.
Prediction: 2nd Place (40-44 win range)
Milwaukee Bucks (7-12, 3.5 GB)
Coming into the season, the Bucks figured to be the Bulls biggest competition for the Central Division crown. However the team has gotten off to a slow start, losing 8 of their first 10 road games. They have lost 7 of their last 9 games, which included a five game losing streak near the end of November. In typical Scott Skiles fashion the team has been very stingy defensively allowing only 93.2 Points per Game, which is good for 6th best in the NBA. However the team has struggled offensively, scoring only 91.6 points per game, which ranks right near the bottom of the NBA. Despite the slow start offensively, Milwaukee does have some nice offensive players, particularly Brandon Jennings (18.6 PPG) and Andrew Bogut (13.1 PPG, 11.5 RPG). Look for them to right the ship and remain competitive in the Central Division.
Prediction: 3rd Place (36-40 win range)
Cleveland Cavaliers (7-13, 4 GB)
Things have gone sour for the Cavaliers pretty quickly. After starting off the season 4-3 they have gone 3-10, which includes a current 4 game losing streak. Not only have the wins been hard to come by for the Cavs, but lately just remaining competitive has been a struggle. First Boston walloped them by 19 on their home court, then Lebron returned home to Cleveland to lead the Heat to a 28 point victory amid a chorus of boos. Cleveland followed that up, with an embarrassing 34 point loss at Minnesota and a 10 point loss at last-place Detroit. Nobody expected anything out of Cleveland given the loss of Lebron James, so I guess it’s fair to say that the team has lived up to expectations.
Prediction: 5th Place (21-25 win range)
Detroit Pistons (7-14, 4.5 GB)
Much like Milwaukee and Cleveland, Detroit has really struggled away from home, starting the season with a 2-9 road record. They stumbled out of the gates, dropping their first five games of the season. I guess that was a fair indicator of how the season would go, because things have gotten too much better for the Pistons since then. They had one nice stretch in the beginning of November where they won 4 out of 5 (including their only 2 road wins of the season) but other than that wins have really been hard for them to come by. Rebounding appears to be a big problem for Detroit, as they rank near the bottom of the NBA in rebounds per game and Ben Wallace is the only player that averages more than 5 rebounds per game. Things won’t get much easier for Detroit in December where they have to go on the road 6 more times where they have struggled big time and have some tough home games against Atlanta, New Orleans, Chicago, and Boston.
Prediction: 4th Place (25-29 win range)
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