2008-09 Prediction: Pistons hold off Cavs in Central
Our experts predict which team will win the Central Division.
Editor's note: We asked our panel of NBA experts, "Who will win the Central Division?"
1. Detroit Pistons: 11 votes
Henry Abbott, ESPN.com'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, ESPN.com: 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, ESPN.com: 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, ESPN.com: Detroit should be in a dogfight with Cleveland for the division crown, but the Pistons' depth puts them over the top.
Scoop Jackson, ESPN.com
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, ESPN.com 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, ESPN.com: 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, ESPN.com: 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, ESPN.com:
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.
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2008-09 NBA PREDICTIONS
Let the games begin. And for that matter, the story lines, too. The 2008-09 NBA season is here, and our experts make predicitons. Titles | Awards
TITLES• Atlantic Division champ
• Southeast Division champ
• Central Division champ
• Southwest Division champ
• Northwest Division champ
• Pacific Division champ
• Eastern Conference champ
• Western Conference champ
• NBA champ
AWARDS• Rookie of the Year
• Defensive Player of the Year
• Sixth Man of the Year
• Most Improved Player
• Coach of the Year
• Most Valuable Player
PREVIEWS• East Dime previews
• West Dime previews
• ESPN The Mag preview
• Simmons: Fantasy preview
• 2008-09 Preview index
SPORTSNATION• Vote: Over/Under East
• Vote: Over/Under West
• Vote: NBA season predictions
• Vote: NBA awards
• Fans: Season predictions