2008-09 Prediction: Pistons hold off Cavs in Central

Our experts predict which team will win the Central Division.

Originally Published: October 28, 2008

PistonsAllen Einstein/NBAE/ Getty ImagesIs this the season the Pistons finally slip in the Central Division? Some say yes, but most don't.

Editor's note: We asked our panel of NBA experts, "Who will win the Central Division?"

1. Detroit Pistons: 11 votes

Henry Abbott,'s TrueHoop: Hard to pick against LeBron James. But the maturation of Rodney Stuckey and Amir Johnson could make this team better than ever.

Maurice Brooks, The Pistons are deep enough to overcome an injury to any one of their core players. What happens in Cleveland if No. 23 goes down?

John Hollinger, A better regular-season team than Cleveland.

Ric Bucher, ESPN Mag: The Spurs of the East -- no matter how dim their title chances, they will grind out 10 wins less gritty teams (ahem, Cavs) will let slip away.

Chad Ford, Detroit should be in a dogfight with Cleveland for the division crown, but the Pistons' depth puts them over the top.

Scoop Jackson,

Tim Legler, ESPN: They will win 50-plus and be there when it matters, but will new coach Michael Curry get them over their playoff meltdowns?

Keith Lipscomb, Fantasy: Now, even if the gracefully aging leaders start to play like it occasionally, the young and hungry are ready to help.

Chris Palmer, ESPN Mag: It's a tired pick, but their experienced core has been together longer than anyone else's.

Jalen Rose, ESPN: Through multiple coaches, they've reached six straight Eastern Conference finals with basically the same core of players.

Chris Sheridan, Give Joe Dumars credit for not making a panic trade. But the pressure will be on Michael Curry to get them off to a strong start, keeping Dumars from having an itchy trigger finger. I think Curry can.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers: 7 votes

J.A. Adande, Time for the supporting cast to earn the right to stay. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is the only teammate left from LeBron James' rookie year.

Chris Broussard, ESPN Mag: No more regular-season flameouts. They now recognize how important home-court advantage is in the playoffs.

Mark Jackson, ESPN: Two words -- LeBron James.

Jackie MacMullan, ESPN: Mo Williams. Enough said.

Jack Ramsay, ESPN Radio: Expect a big year from LeBron and a quicker pace with Mo Williams to give them just enough to finish ahead of Detroit.

Marc Stein, The Cavs have been consistently ordinary in the regular season, even in the LeBron era, but this season will be different. That's my view, even if Detroit (as I expect) holds off the steep decline many are forecasting.

David Thorpe, Scouts Inc.: It's a coin flip with Detroit, but Cleveland's defensive discipline and improved bench should lead to a division title.