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Central Div Eastern Conference Dec 15
On The Beat: Eastern Conference, Central Division (December 16, 2004)
Cleveland Cavaliers (14-8)
The Cavaliers are enjoying some successful times now with their rebirth led by phenom F-Lebron James. Playing at a consistent level not seen since the early 1990s, the Cavs are leading the Central Division. With their latest 112-88 victory over t he Portland Trailblazers, the Cavs have won nine straight games at home. However, their record shows that they could improve their focus. In all but two their losses, the Cavs have been blown out, losing by a margin of 10-points or more. On the flip side, when the Cavs win, they usually win by a comfortable margin… Reports indicate that the Cav’s owner, Gordon Gund is in serious negotiations to sell the NBA franchise. Gund, who purchased the franchise in 1983, is expected to considerably profit, should a transaction occur. The Cavaliers have been experiencing a rebirth led by their phenomenal young star, Lebron James, who is also the most popular player in the game right now… Speaking of Lebron, his new Nike commercial which is set in a traditional Chinese-theme, has been banned in China. Chinese officials said the ban was placed because the ad was offensive to the Chinese culture. In the commercial, Lebron defeats an animated pair of dragons, considered a sacred symbol in traditional Chinese culture… Despite Lebron getting the most attention, C-Zydrunas Ilgauskus and F-Drew Gooden has also drawn accolades for the Cav’s fine play. A name that usually does not get mentioned is the Cav’s starting PG-Jeff McInnis. McInnis is second on the team with minutes played (38.3 a game) behind James, and is scoring 15.3 points and dishing out 5.2 assists a game. Extending back to last season, the Cavs have a 33-19 record since he has started.
Indiana Pacers (11-10)
The fallout from Pacers-Piston fans brawl is starting to show itself in Indiana. With their three top scorers suspended (G-Ron Artest, F-Jermaine O’Neal, and G-Stephen Jackson), the Pacers first surprised many by winning three of the next four games after suspensions of handed out. But then, the team plummeted back to reality by losing their next seven games. The streak was snapped when the team beat Atlanta 108-97 in overtime… The Pacers signed journeyman F-Michael Curry prior to the Atlanta game. Curry played for the Toronto Raptors last season and is the president of the NBA Players Association… Reggie Miller returned to action and his offense was much needed. Miller broke his hand in the preseason, and has played five games so far. In those games, the 39 year-old Miller has looked like his old self, averaging 20.8 points in less than 37 minutes of play… Another silver lining the Pacers can be happy about is the fine play of usual bench players, G-Fred Jones and F-Austin Croshere. Since the suspensions, Jones has been averaging 16.3 points a game, while Croshere is averaging 15.6 points and 9.1 rebounds a game… The Nov. 19 brawl remains big news as prosecutors have charged Artest, O'Neal, Jackson, C-David Harrison, and G-Anthony Johnson for their participation against fans in the melee.
Detroit Pistons (11-10)
One gets the feeling that the Pistons are finally starting to return to the form that crowned them NBA Champions last season since winning four of their last six games. Coach Larry Brown feels that it is only a matter of time before the team becomes a succinct unit… Insiders say that the Pistons are near completing a trade with the Chicago Bulls where G-Smush Parker and G-Horace Jenkins would go to the Bulls and G-Frank Williams coming over to Detroit. The Piston’s savvy President, Joe Dumars, has been eyeing Williams since his days with the New York Knicks… F-Antonio McDyess returned after missing five games due to injury in a thrilling 94-93 win over his former team, the New York Knicks. McDyess contributed 5 points and 6 rebounds in 21 minutes of play. McDyess had a disappointing injury-filled stint with the Knicks for a season-and-a-half (he played only 18 games in a Knicks uniform) prior to his arrival in Detroit this season. The Pistons acquired McDyess this summer as a free-agent (4 years, $23-million) and hopes that he can return in some degree to the form that made him an all-star and one of the best young emerging power forwards. This season, McDyess has averaged 9.5 points and 7.6 rebounds in 26.7 minutes a game…
Milwaukee Bucks (6-13)
The Bucks have been bad, although their performance have been upstaged by the horrific performances by New Orleans, Chicago, and Atlanta. The Bucks have lost 12 of their last 15 games. The team has at least been competitive for most games, losing 7 of their games by only five points or less. Much of the losses can be blamed on the team’s defensive lapses, which has Coach Terry Porter livid. The Bucks rank near the bottom in major team defensive statistics – 25th in points allowed, and 26th in opponent’s field-goal percentage… Another reason for the Buck’s disappointing start has been the current injury epidemic that has affected the club. Because of this, GM-Larry Harris has applied to the NBA for a roster exemption that would allow them to sign an additional player over the 15-man limit. The Bucks are missing key players in G-T.J. Ford (spinal surgery), F-Toni Kukoc (hip), F-Erick Strickland (knee), F-Keith Van Horn (ankle), F-Marcus Fizer (strep throat), and C-Daniel Santiago (cornea)… One silver lining in the Buck’s season so far has been the electrifying play of G/F-Desmond Mason. Mason has been averaging 18.3 points a game this season, second on the team behind G-Michael Redd. The former NBA Slam Dunk Champion has also been a regular on nightly sports highlight reels for his emphatic drive to the bucket that usually results in jaw-dropping slam dunks…
Chicago Bulls (4-15)
The Bulls are starting to show signs of live, winning three of their last five games, after a 1-10 record to start the season. The team’s reversal of fortune has coincided with the criticism of F-Eddy Curry’s trade demands. Curry has been one of the many young Bulls who have elevated the game, along with C-Tyson Chandler and G-Ben Gordon. In the last five games, Curry has averaged 17.2 points and 6.6 rebounds a game, while shooting 57.1% from the field. Chandler has averaged 11.6 points and 10.2 rebounds a game and is shooting 52.6% from the field. Gordon has averaged 17.0 points a game while shooting 53.2% from the field… The Bulls are apparently close to finishing a deal with the Detroit Pistons. The trade deal would see the Bull’s seldom-used G-Frank Williams go to the Pistons in return for G-Smush Parker and G-Horace Jenkins…