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Hicks
12-20-2004, 04:49 PM
http://proxy.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=ford_chad&id=1949820

http://proxy.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=ford_chad&id=1949818

http://proxy.espn.go.com/chat/chatESPN?event_id=6807

Thanks.

Kstat
12-20-2004, 04:53 PM
I'll GLADLY post this one :D

Monday, December 20, 2004

By Chad Ford
ESPN Insider

The Good, the Bad, the Upside Insider's Chad Ford rounds up the state of the NBA every Monday, looking at The Good and The Bad and offering a little dose of optimism in The Upside.

The Bad
# The Hornets seem to have called it quits already.
# Are the Hawks ready to trade 'Toine and start, uh, rebuilding?
# Somehow the Warriors are worse than expected.

The Upside
# Dallas got tougher but now needs a point guard.
# Seattle has been on fire, but can the torch stay lit?
# The light bulb seems to have gone on in Washington.
There's one thing we can say for sure about preseason predictions. They are about as reliable as the seven-day forecast over the Bermuda Triangle.

After all the offseason moving and shaking, after the preseason games had been won and lost you look at teams, on both paper and in truncated versions on the court and ... well ... you guess.

Sometimes the guesses make you look like a genius. Sometimes ... eh, not so much.

Now that we are nearly a third of the way through the season, here are Insider's "educated" NBA predictions. Out with the Tarot cards. In with the game film.

The good

Detroit Pistons: The defending champs are 12-11. They've suffered bad losses to the Hawks, Bobcats, Grizzlies and Bucks. They were blown away, on their home floor, by the Pacers. They've been embroiled in scandal and lethargy. Their lock-down defense the same one that won them the title last year has on recently reared its nasty head. Their lock-out offense, however, has been on permanent display.

So how can the Pistons still be atop of our list of teams with a chance to win it all? I'll let a rival Eastern Conference GM put it into perspective.

"There are all sorts of issues going on," the GM told Insider. "But when you look at their team, their coach and their front office, I just find it hard to believe that anyone can beat them in a seven-game series. The defense will get better. The veterans will start playing with more fire. It's inevitable. The same thing has happened in the past with the Lakers and Spurs. Once they get closer, they'll start tasting it again, and when they do, I don't see a team out there who can beat them."

That turnaround may already have started. After a miserable November, in which the Pistons allowed nearly 96 ppg, their defense has been stellar. In December, Detroit is giving up an average of 79 ppg. The offense still needs a lot of work. Only the Hornets, Nets and Hawks are putting up fewer points per game right now.

While you can make the argument that the Pacers would have a real shot at beating the Pistons if Ron Artest returns, look around the rest of the East. Is there a better team over the long haul? Once they get to the Finals all bets are off, however. This is a team built to keep up with the Spurs, not a team like the Suns.

They're still Insider's favorites to win it all this year but the mountain looks much steeper than it did this fall.
Insider preseason prediction: 1st in East, NBA Champs
Insider revised prediction: 2nd in East, NBA Champs


Tim Duncan
Forward-Center
San Antonio Spurs
Profile


2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
25 23.1 12.4 2.5 .511 .661
San Antonio Spurs: Quiet and lethal. That's the only way to describe the 20-5 Spurs this year. They are, once again, the best defensive team in the league. Offensively, they are nearly 5 ppg better than last year. Only the Suns have a bigger point differential. They are also the second-best rebounding team. They have an MVP big man in Tim Duncan. Their backcourt of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili is one of the most exciting in the league.

"I think they're the best team in the NBA, period," one rival GM said. "They can beat you outside or inside on offense, and they will always defend you. If Brent Barry ever gets on track, I just don't see how anyone could stop them."

Maybe. The Spurs have been great against the traditional powerhouses. But against quicker, smaller teams that can shoot the ball, they've had their share of problems. Seattle has beaten them badly twice. Teams like the Grizzlies and Raptors teams without traditional low post games also have given them fits. If they have to face a team like the Suns or Sonics in the Finals, it could spell disaster.
Insider preseason prediction: 1st in West, Western Conference Champs
Insider revised prediction: 1st in West

Phoenix Suns: The Suns are not a fluke. Few 21-3 teams are. The Suns are beating teams by an average margin of 12 ppg. No one has come close to figuring out how to stop their mile-a-minute offense. Defensively, they've been more committed than you'd expect from a team like this.


Amare Stoudemire
Forward-Center
Phoenix Suns
Profile


2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
24 24.8 8.7 1.5 .572 .702
They have five players capable of averaging 30 points a night. On some teams, that could be a liability. But on this one, everyone shares the ball, apparently content knowing their shots will come soon enough.

"They are relentless," one rival GM told Insider. "And they are unique. They pose so many match-up problems; it's tough to figure out what to do with them. I think [GM Bryan] Colangelo was brilliant. He's created a team that no other team in the league can really defend. Teams were built to defend more traditional, low-post attacks. They've taken everyone by surprise and caught us with our pants down a little."

The Suns, however, aren't perfect. Statistically, they are the worst-rebounding team in the league something that few good teams ever have claimed. Their schedule hasn't been rigourous to date, and their bench is very thin. If Steve Nash or Amare Stoudemire were to go down for an extended time, all bets would be off.

Still, can a slow-down, defensive-oriented team like the Spurs really survive a seven game series with this bunch? For the Spurs to be effective, they need to hold their opponents under 90 ppg. That's nearly 19 points below the Suns' average. That's an almost impossible task for a team in a seven-game series.
Insider preseason prediction: 8th in West
Insider revised prediction: 2nd in West, Western Conference Champs


Shaquille O'Neal
Center
Miami Heat
Profile


2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
26 20.9 11.0 3.1 .606 .453
Miami Heat: Shaquille O'Neal has awoken from his early season slumber and has been running roughshod through the Eastern Conference of late. The result? The Heat are 8-1 in December and now sport the best record in the East at 19-7. Shaq is averaging 24 ppg and 10 rpg over the last five games. Dwyane Wade has been awesome all season, averaging 23 ppg and 7 apg. And relatively unknown Damon Jones leads the league in 3-pointers made.

"The team doesn't have a lot of depth," a rival GM told Insider. "But if you have Shaq in the paint and Wade running around the perimeter, that's tough to stop regardless of the three other guys on the floor. I still question if they're deep enough to beat an elite team in a seven-game series, but, frankly, they're better than I thought they'd be."

With that said, the Heat are actively trying to fix the depth issue. The Raptors could turn out to be their savior. League sources claim the Raptors are discussing a buyout with Alonzo Mourning. If he takes it, he likely will sign with the Heat for the league minimum.

The Heat are also talking to the Raptors about a deal that could send both Jalen Rose and Donyell Marshall to Miami. If that happens?

"If that happens, we're all in trouble," the same GM told Insider. "They'll have the firepower to beat anyone anyone in the playoffs."
Insider preseason prediction: 3rd in East
Insider revised prediction: 1st in East

Sacramento Kings: The media needs to stop using the "window" metaphor with the Kings. Every year the preseason analysis is the same the window has closed on the Kings. Every year the on the court response is the same maybe it'll close next year.

The Kings are 15-3 after a pitiful 1-4 start. They are the second-highest scoring team in the league. Once again they average the most assists and the fewest turnovers. Those three stats together invariably add up to a winning combination.

But will they ever get over the playoff hump in the West? It may depend on who they play this year. They are well equipped to play and beat a smaller team like the Suns or Sonics. However, teams like the Spurs and Timberwolves continue to give them fits.
Insider preseason prediction: 3rd in West
Insider revised prediction: 3rd in West

Minnesota Timberwolves: Speaking of teams that might already have peaked, it's tough to believe the Wolves will ever be able to repeat what they did in 2004. Kevin Garnett is still amazing, but the supporting cast doesn't quite seem to have the sizzle it did last year.


Eddie Griffin
Forward
Minnesota Timberwolves
Profile


2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
20 11.4 7.1 0.8 .435 .810
Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell's numbers are way down from last season, and they show no signs of perking up unless the Wolves throw some serious cash their way. The Wolves have been very active on the trade market trying to fix that problem. They thought they were a prime candidate to acquire Jason Kidd before the Vince Carter trade. Now, the best they may be able to do is swapping a guy like Wally Szczerbiak for Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

The one bright spot besides Garnett has been Eddie Griffin. Many scouts believed he was the best talent in the draft class of 2001. His off-court problems have been well documented, but they seem to be in remission at the moment. If he stays focused, he and Garnett may be able to will the Wolves deep into the playoffs on their own.
Insider preseason prediction: 2nd in West
Insider revised prediction: 4th in West

Indiana Pacers: For a few fleeting seconds on Nov. 19, it looked like the Pacers were going to be the team to beat this season. They were in Detroit, wiping the floor with the defending world champs when Mount Artest erupted and sent Indiana's season into disarray.


Fred Jones
Shooting Guard
Indiana Pacers
Profile


2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
21 13.2 4.4 2.5 .447 .905
When the Pacers get Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson back in late January, they will rise again and become one of the powers in the East. But without Artest, will they really have the juice to make it all the way to the Finals? Maybe. Their supporting cast has gotten valuable minutes in the absence of the starters and might be ready to step up and play a bigger role especially guard Fred Jones. But as good as Jones is, he doesn't provide the same intensity Artest did.

Then again, the arbitrator could rule this week that Artest's punishment was too severe. If the suspension is reduced and the league loses its appeal in federal court, the Pistons, Heat and everyone else in the league could be in for a world of hurt as the hungry, angry Pacers try to exact revenge on everyone that stands in their way.
Insider preseason prediction: 2nd in East
Insider revised prediction: 3rd in East


Dwight Howard
Power Forward
Orlando Magic
Profile


2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
24 10.6 10.3 1.3 .527 .640
Orlando Magic: Lost in the Suns and Sonics love-fest is this year's Eastern Conference Cinderella story the Magic. They, too, are playing a run-and-gun style that is turning heads and wearing down opponents. In fact, it's the Magic, not the Suns, who lead the league in fast-break points per game.

Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley are having career years. Grant Hill looks like his old self again. And rookie Dwight Howard has superstar written all over him. His 10.3 rpg is amazing for a rookie. Once Francis and Mobley figure out that Howard can get much higher-percentage shots than they can, they may actually pass him the ball. His 6.9 field goal attempts per game rank just fifth on the team, despite the fact he's shooting 53 percent from the field.
Insider preseason prediction: 4th in East
Insider revised prediction: 4th in East

Kstat
12-20-2004, 04:56 PM
Monday, December 20, 2004

By Chad Ford
ESPN Insider

The Good, the Bad, the Upside
Insider's Chad Ford rounds up the state of the NBA every Monday, looking at The Good and The Bad and offering a little dose of optimism in The Upside.

The Good
# Why the Pistons are still our pick to win it all.
# Why the Suns might have the Spurs' number.
# The Kings are dead yet, but the Wolves might be.

The Bad
# The Hornets seem to have called it quits already.
# Are the Hawks ready to trade 'Toine and start, uh, rebuilding?
# Somehow the Warriors are worse than expected.
Your team doesn't have to be a championship contender to feel a swelling sense of pride this season. Just ask fans in Seattle and Cleveland. The steps made by each franchise are enormous, and with patience, the future could even be brighter.

Now that w're nearly a third of the way through the season, here are Insider's "educated" NBA predictions. None of these teams are likely to be playing in NBA Finals this year ... but the term "success" has multiple meanings.

The upside out West

Dallas Mavericks: Life sure has a way of coming back and biting you in the butt. The Mavs finally addressed long-term toughness and rebounding issues this summer only to regress in the one area that used to be their greatest strength point guard play.


Jason Terry
Guard
Dallas Mavericks
Profile


2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
24 9.1 2.1 3.4 .473 .780
Mark Cuban has to be beating himself over the head for letting Steve Nash get away this summer. Nash is putting on an MVP performance in Phoenix while the Mavs' three-headed monster of Jason Terry, Devin Harris and Darrell Armstrong has been average, at best. Terry has been the best of the three, though he still doesn't seem to have head coach Don Nelson's trust.

The rest of the team looks pretty good. Dirk Nowitzki has taken his game to the next level. Second-year forward Josh Howard has been impressive. Jerry Stackhouse has given them a big boost off the bench. Even Alan Henderson has contributed.

But come playoff time, the Mavs know that without a true floor general, it's going to be tough. With Jason Kidd now off the trading block in New Jersey where do the Mavs turn?
Insider preseason prediction: 4th in West
Insider revised prediction: 5th in West

Seattle SuperSonics: Calm down, Sonics fans. Going from a 15th-place prediction in the West to a sixth-place prediction is not a slap in the face. I know the team has the second-best record in the league and has beaten the Spurs twice. But how much longer can the good fortune continue?


Ray Allen
Shooting Guard
Seattle SuperSonics
Profile


2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
23 24.3 4.3 4.3 .438 .917
As long as Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Vladimir Radmanovic and Luke Ridnour keep shooting the lights out. Those four combined are shooting above 40 percent from behind the 3-point line. If those numbers slip even a little bit, the Sonics will start to slip a little.

The good news for Sonics fans is there's enough wiggle room here to suggest the team is not a fluke. This is a very good rebounding team ranking fourth in the league in rebounding margin. The Sonics are beating teams by an impressive 6-ppg margin. As long as Danny Fortson and Nick Collison keep playing tough in the paint, the Sonics might slip, but barring a historic collapse, they aren't slipping too far.
Insider preseason prediction: 15th in West
Insider revised prediction: 6th in West

Denver Nuggets: It's tough to fall in love with the Nuggets after their off-and-on start to the season. Of all the .500 teams in the West, they are the worst team on the road. That shouldn't come as a surprise. Last year the Nuggets made the playoffs despite going just 14-27 on the road. They are on virtually an identical pace this year.

What gives the Nuggets hope? One, they have been getting along so far without a healthy Nene. Once he's back to 100 percent, he'll add a different dimension. Second, they've been doing it without a real two guard. That too, should change.

The Nuggets have been patiently waiting for the right deal to come along, using Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Rodney White as trade bait. If they could get a star-caliber two guard like Michael Redd, they'd even part with Nene. But right now, they believe all they need is a serviceable one.
Insider preseason prediction: 6th in the West
Insider revised prediction: 7th in the West


Andrei Kirilenko
Forward
Utah Jazz
Profile


2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
14 14.8 7.2 2.6 .504 .730
Utah Jazz: I'm not ready to write off the Jazz, despite them having won just two of their last 12 games. If you had any question about how much Andrei Kirilenko means to them, now you know. Kirilenko isn't slated to return from a sprained MCL until mid-January. That should still be enough time for the Jazz to recover.

With Kirilenko, the Jazz should quickly return to form. Earlier in the season, they were destroying teams with great defense and a precision offense, and that was before Mehmet Okur had really found his groove. Once Kirilenko is there to anchor the front line, I think they'll find a way to sneak into the last spot in the West.
Insider preseason prediction: 7th in West
Insider revised prediction: 8th in West

The upside in the East

Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavs have been one of the early-season success stories in the East, but they still are a piece away from being a contender. The team still lacks a great perimeter shooter who can open up the floor for LeBron and the bigs.

The team has been dangling both DeSagana Diop and Dajuan Wagner, hoping someone will bite and swap them for a shooter. The problem for Cleveland is they really don't want to take back any long-term salary, so that they can make a run at sharp-shooter Michael Redd this summer.

If it doesn't happen, it's not the end of the world for the Cavs. They're still on pace for a top-six finish in the East. Given the recent history in Cleveland, that's a major accomplishment.
Insider preseason prediction: 5th in East
Insider revised prediction: 5th in East


Gilbert Arenas
Point Guard
Washington Wizards
Profile


2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
21 22.2 3.8 5.5 .418 .840
Washington Wizards: The Wizards are starting to figure out that the difference between playing the Heat and the Hawks is enormous. Despite an impressive 13-9 record, the team has just three wins against teams with a winning record.

Still, when you figure that half the East will finish below .500 this year, the good news is the Wizards can make the playoffs without beating many good teams.

How does a team made up of former Warriors fare so well? The glass-half-full theory says Eddie Jordan has finally installed his offense, and players like Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Larry Hughes are thriving in it. The glass-half -empty theory says that as bad as the Warriors have been the past decade, they likely would've been a playoff team in the East at least a few seasons.
Insider preseason prediction: 10th in East
Insider revised prediction: 6th in East


Samuel Dalembert
Center
Philadelphia 76ers
Profile


2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
17 5.4 7.0 0.6 .465 .667
Philadelphia 76ers: Jim O'Brien may be a great head coach, but what the heck was he thinking for the first six weeks of the season? With young studs like Samuel Dalembert and Willie Green rotting at the end of the bench, the Sixers got off to a miserable 6-12 start.

That's when GM Billy King stepped in and told O'Brien to end his control-freak, early-season experiment and start playing some of the young kids. It's hard to argue with the results. The Sixers have won four of their last five, and Dalembert, in particular, has been great, averaging 8 ppg, 10.3 rpg and 3 blocks during that span. What coach doesn't want a guy like that on his team? Rookie Andre Iguodala and Green also have seen more time during this stretch and have responded by averaging 12.3 ppg each.

If King sticks to his guns, there's no reason why the Sixers shouldn't win the Atlantic. They have the depth, the size and the athleticism to do some damage now, and no other team in the division has quite the upside.
Insider preseason prediction: 6th in East
Insider revised prediction: 7th in East


Jason Kidd
Point Guard
New Jersey Nets
Profile


2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
7 11.3 4.4 4.0 .452 .700
New Jersey Nets: We made the 11th-place prediction this fall with the understanding it was likely Jason Kidd would be traded for cap room. Now that Vince Carter is in the fold, Kidd has dropped his trade demands for the moment, anyway.

If Kidd and Carter stay healthy, the Nets will begin rising in the East. How far they will rise, however, depends on the play of several young bigs. The Nets lost a lot of depth in the paint to make the trade. They are now relying on Jason Collins, Brian Scalabrine and rookie Nenad Krstic to step up big. Krstic, in particular, looked good Sunday scoring 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting with four boards and four assists.

That won't be enough to turn them into a contender, but in the East it should be enough to sneak them into the playoffs.
Insider preseason prediction: 11th in East
Insider revised prediction: 8th in East

The rest out West


Kobe Bryant
Shooting Guard
Los Angeles Lakers
Profile


2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
23 27.7 7.6 7.3 .404 .800
Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant's numbers just keep getting better and better. Over the Lakers' last five games, he's averaging 32.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg and 8.4 apg. We said at the start of the season that if Kobe averaged more than 6 assists per game the Lakers would make the playoffs.

That's still a strong possibility. But apparently that's not the key statistic for the Lakers. Kobe is averaging the same number of assists per game in both Lakers wins and losses.

Here's our new indicator. The Lakers will make the playoffs if Kobe takes less than four 3-point shots per game. In the 13 Laker wins this season, Bryant has taken an average of 3.6 3s. In their 10 losses, he's averaging a whopping 7.6 3-point attempts.
Insider preseason prediction: 9th in West
Insider revised prediction: 9th in West

Los Angeles Clippers: What happened to the Clippers' miracle season? Just two weeks ago we were ready to call them serious contenders for the eighth playoff seed in the West. But after five straight losses, the team has fallen back to Earth.

It's a shame really. The starting five of Marko Jaric, Bobby Simmons, Corey Maggette, Elton Brand and Chris Kaman have enormous potential. And with Chris Wilcox and Shaun Livingston coming of the bench, the Clippers have the potential to be a playoff team.

But Sterling's law says the Clippers will fall a few wins short of a playoff berth once again.
Insider preseason prediction: 14th in West
Insider revised prediction: 10th in West

Houston Rockets: Tracy McGrady has broken out of his early-season funk, averaging 26 and 6 in his last five. Yao Ming appears to have turned the corner too, averaging 18 and 10 in his last five.

But after T-Mac and Yao, the talent drop-off is so deep, and Jeff Van Gundy remains so stubborn, it's tough to see the Rockets breaking into the top eight in the West. Some will blame T-Mac. Others are pointing the finger at Yao or Van Gundy.

But the truth is basketball is a five-on-five sport, and the Rockets are only putting two players on the floor. As good as they both are, that's a tough burden for anyone to bear.
Insider preseason prediction: 6th in West
Insider revised prediction: 11th in West

The rest in the East


Jamal Crawford
Shooting Guard
New York Knicks
Profile


2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
24 19.5 2.7 3.7 .398 .867
New York Knicks: Knicks fans should all breathe a huge sigh of relief that Vince Carter is playing in New Jersey. He wouldn't have been a good fit in New York, and Isiah knew it. But "buzz" has replaced chemistry in Isiah's playbook, and Carter provided plenty of that.

In Carter's absence, the "buzz" falls on Jamal Crawford. Crawford has hit some big shots the past few weeks and isn't shy about taking them. He's the anti-Tim Thomas, who tends to assume the fetal position in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter.

Crawford's willingness to step up is something to build on in New York. Despite the crazy shot selection and his surprising unwillingness to pass (Crawford still claims he's a point guard) at least he seems interested in winning. The same can't always be said for Stephon Marbury, Thomas and the rest of the Knicks crew.
Insider preseason prediction: 7th in East
Insider revised prediction: 9th in East

Boston Celtics: The Celtics are in that place right between good and awful. They have enough talent to beat just about anyone on a given night. They also lack enough to allow them to lose to just about anyone on a given night.

The team is 11-12 so far, and there's nothing to suggest the trend won't continue. Paul Pierce has been good. Everyone else has been erratic. When three or four players get it going together, the team can look impressive. When it's two or less, it's ugly.

But is the mediocrity really worth it? It's probably just a matter of time before veterans like Ricky Davis and Gary Payton are traded in an attempt to get more playing time for the youngsters.
Insider pre-season prediction: 8th in East
Insider revised prediction: 10th in East

Chicago Bulls: The Bulls are on a roll. Three straight wins for this team is enough to stand up and take notice. Eddy Curry is starting to dominate in the paint again. Ben Gordon seems to come up huge on odd games. Luol Deng fills in on the even ones.

Is that enough for GM John Paxson to sit back and wait a little longer? Maybe Curry has turned the corner. Maybe Gordon just needed some time to adjust. Maybe Tyson Chandler, who has been crashing the boards, just needed to work off the rust.

Then again, maybe now is the perfect time for Paxson to make his move. With Curry and Gordon's stock on the rise, perhaps the Bulls can get the piece that will make them respectable again.
Insider pre-season prediction: 12th in East
Insider revised prediction: 11th in East

Kegboy
12-20-2004, 06:01 PM
the Pistons, Heat and everyone else in the league could be in for a world of hurt as the hungry, angry Pacers try to exact revenge on everyone that stands in their way.

Man, I so want to see that. Even if we don't get Ronnie back, I expect JO and Jack to have a chip on their shoulder every single game. Hopefully, they'll take it out on the opposition and not the refs. But, it sure would be nice to watch us not taking games off, like every team always does.

Lord Helmet
12-20-2004, 06:25 PM
Man, I so want to see that. Even if we don't get Ronnie back, I expect JO and Jack to have a chip on their shoulder every single game. Hopefully, they'll take it out on the opposition and not the refs. But, it sure would be nice to watch us not taking games off, like every team always does. I want to see that too.I think we all do.When we do get Jack and JO we will be one angry and deep team.If we get Ron back everyone else in the league :shudder:

DisplacedKnick
12-20-2004, 06:31 PM
SJax and JO will have 25 and 30-game fresher legs than most of the league. Not sure about Jackson - he might get out of control - but I expect JO to put up HUGE numbers.

Unclebuck
12-20-2004, 07:27 PM
Indiana Pacers: For a few fleeting seconds on Nov. 19, it looked like the Pacers were going to be the team to beat this season. They were in Detroit, wiping the floor with the defending world champs when Mount Artest erupted and sent Indiana's season into disarray.


Fred Jones
Shooting Guard
Indiana Pacers
Profile


2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
21 13.2 4.4 2.5 .447 .905
When the Pacers get Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson back in late January, they will rise again and become one of the powers in the East. But without Artest, will they really have the juice to make it all the way to the Finals? Maybe. Their supporting cast has gotten valuable minutes in the absence of the starters and might be ready to step up and play a bigger role especially guard Fred Jones. But as good as Jones is, he doesn't provide the same intensity Artest did.

Then again, the arbitrator could rule this week that Artest's punishment was too severe. If the suspension is reduced and the league loses its appeal in federal court, the Pistons, Heat and everyone else in the league could be in for a world of hurt as the hungry, angry Pacers try to exact revenge on everyone that stands in their way.
Insider preseason prediction: 2nd in East
Insider revised prediction: 3rd in East






"angry Pacers try to exact revenge on everyone that stands in their way"


I hear that. That gets me fired up just thinking of the possibility