Dec 18, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Indiana Pacers guard George Hill (3) shoots during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Bucks won 98-93. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Central Division Assessment

While the Pacers have another day of no action, I wanted to take a look at how the Central Division is shaping up.  Right now, the Pacers sit in first place only a half game up in the standings, but up there in first place.  Right on the heels are the Milwaukee Bucks, who have handed the Pacers two division losses, and the Chicago Bulls, who had a game postponed last night with the Pacers.  There towards the bottom and not looking too good this season are the Detroit Pistons and the Cleveland Cavaliers. I’m surprised the Pistons are ahead of the Cavs, but that’s not saying much since both teams are under 10 wins right now.

Here’s a look at how each team is faring this season.

Indiana Pacers  (16-12 Overall, 4-2 Division)

The Pacers are sitting pretty in first thanks to the current three game win streak and finally look to be getting around to the team that fans expected them to be.  The defense is there, and sitting first in some rankings as far as stats go.  That keeps this team in the games when the shooting isn’t there.  The offense can be stagnant at times, and the Pacers have only cracked over 100 points a few times this season. But if this team continues their defensive prowess, things will come around and they can move up in the standings of the Eastern Conference.  They will need that defensive effort come playoff time.  I am sure they’re looking forward to a return game with the Milwaukee Bucks who have handed the Pacers their two divisional losses.  The Bulls game last night would have been a good one, and both fans of those teams are wondering when it will be rescheduled.  For now, the Pacers sit in first and can hopefully put some breathing room between them and second place tomorrow night when they face off against the Phoenix Suns.

Milwaukee Bucks  (15-12 Overall, 5-2 Division)

The Bucks are putting together a good season and look to challenge for the division crown this season.  They have some shooters in Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, which is hard for teams to figure out which one to stop.  But they have a big man who’s stepping up in Larry Sanders.  He seemed to be all over the Pacers in the past couple of games they’ve played.  The Bucks will get a test come Saturday when they face the Heat.  That should be a game to see where they are this season.

Chicago Bulls  (15-12 Overall, 4-2 Division)

The Bulls are in the same predicament as the Pacers in that they’re trying to find their footing after losing a superstar in Derrick Rose.  They knew from the beginning, they would not have him, but that doesn’t mean life would get easier.  Their bench has also been decimated over the off season, and the new faces aren’t clicking yet. But they are right there towards the top of the division, which is saying something.  Looking over their schedule, they should be able to pick up some wins in the next few games as they head off to play the Wizards, Bobcats, and Magic.  Then comes a date with the Heat.  A test for this team, but this is the same Bulls team that handled New York Knicks, who are one of the better teams in the East.  Can the Bulls get their mojo going against the Heat?

Detroit Pistons  (9-22 Overall, 2-2 Division)

Tough sledding for this year’s Pistons team, but when is the last time they’ve put together a good season or even been that relevant?  They actually started off the season with 8 straight losses, so perhaps the fact that they’ve earned 9 wins at this point is a positive for the team.  But the month of December hasn’t been kind as they endured a seven game losing streak before beating Washington two games in a row on a back to back.  So two of the nine wins for the Pistons have come thanks to the Wizards.  They should play the Wizards every game.

Cleveland Cavaliers  (7-23 Overall, 1-8 Division)

I bet the Cavs wish they didn’t play in the Central Division as 8 of the 23 losses have come at the hands of team in the division.  The Pacers have already beat the Cavs twice, both times by double figures.  I thought this Cavs team would play much better, but they just got back Kyrie Iriving and are missing other pieces at times.  But if things can get rolling, maybe this team can play that spoiler part and ruin the playoff hopes of upper teams.  Right now, that’s all I can see this team doing.

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Tags: Central Division Chicago Bulls Cleveland Cavaliers Detroit Pistons Indiana Pacers Milwaukee Bucks

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