[Jeff from CelticsBlog went through great pains to create the NBA Blog Previews project, seen on this site prior to the start of the season. With 20% of the season come and gone, he has solicited inputs from some of the bloggers who participated to assess how their teams (and their predictions) are doing. Pistons previews (limited to ~100 words) by yours truly and Natalie (of Need4Sheed) are below. Check out (re-)assessments for other teams after the jump.]
[A message from Jeff:] Typically speaking, NBA writers write their previews and move on to the next set of stories. Never to return to their predictions or analysis to see how well they fared. Bloggers don’t really have that option. We live this stuff every day and rethink it and re-evaluate it constantly. So I figured with a month under our belts, we could objectively look back and see how our teams are doing and how we did with our previews. What follows is as many updates as we could pull together in a week’s timeframe. Not all blogs are represented, but enough to get a feel for the rest of the league. Enjoy. - Jeff from CelticsBlog
We expected that, in Ben's absence, the Pistons would compensate with increased offense. They have. We screamed that Ben was overvalued both locally and nationally. He was. And we're happy to report that, thus far, this year's squad has avoided any embarrassing temper tantrums. (Good luck with that, Chicago.)
We expected interior defense and rebounding to suffer, but Blue now outrebounds opponents (unlike '05-06) and is still blocking shots. Why? Because Sheed finally realized that he's the wolf, not the bunny, and could average a double-double for the first time in his career.
Their start was rocky and many questioned their identity but after a month on the hardwood the Pistons are back to their winning ways. Detroit started the season 3-5 and had everyone digging them an early grave. Most said they were destined to finish at the bottom of the Eastern Conference because of Big Ben’s departure. But Chauncey, Rip, Sheed, Tayshaun and the rest of the Pistons got back in sync and are now sitting on a seven game winning streak with a 10-5 record at the top of the Central Division.
I knew it would be an up and down year and if they struggled Doc Rivers would feel the heat. I didn’t know that the team would be so streaky. Though with such a young team, I probably should have.
The youth has actually progressed quite a bit, so there is reason for optimism amidst the losses. Still I expect changes to the coach or roster or both. Danny already offered the farm for Gasol and will purse every other big name.
This year is about learning what we’ve got and making moves for what we don’t. Stay tuned.
Cleveland Cavaliers (presented by Cavalier Attitude)
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2006-07 season has been the same old Cavs: inconsistent Drew Gooden. Larry Hughes in a suit. Eric Snow being Eric Snow. Zydrunas Ilgauskas whining about the playbook. And, of course, LeBron James carrying the entire freaking team, organization, and city on his broad shoulders. Although it isn’t that surprising that the Cavs, who continue to grow as a team, have one of the best records in the league, they have been as inconsistent as Gooden himself. How else do you explain following up a win at San Antonio with a loss at Charlotte? Or having your only home loss come to…Atlanta? Or blowing a 16-point lead at Indiana? If this team wants to be taken seriously, they must win the games that they’re supposed to.
Just What the Dr. Ordered, Kinda
(Boulder-CO) As I look at the Nuggets chart after one month of play some of my diagnosis was right and some of it was wrong. The Nuggets are a respectable 9-5 on the season so far, but did have to overcome a case of the fourthquarteritis after starting the season 0-3. I was dead-on-balls accurate about J.R. Smith just needing a change of scenery, but was just a little bit off in my foresight about Kenyon Martin coming back… and well, just sticking around a little while. Anywho, you can get all your Nuggets news, insight, and funny at www.nuggdoctor.blogspot.com. Make yourself an appointment with the Dr. today!
Instead of remembering the loss of one scoring point guard, I should have been getting pumped up (hyphy?) for the new edition. Monta's emergence, as well as the development of Andris the Giant, has helped to compensate for the fact that J-Rich still doesn't seem to be 100%. Nellie-ball has the Warriors leading in the league in FG%, and only the Runnin' Nuggets are scoring more points and pushing it faster. The W's are fun to watch, and the excitement is returning ... but they're still a game behind last year's hot start.
The Houston Rockets had two key goals for this year. Staying healthy, and merging new personnel into a cohesive unit. So far, the month of November has seen them accomplish both of these goals on their way to a 10-4 record, including decisive wins over playoff teams. They are 6-1 at home, and already surpassed the number of division wins from last year’s 1-15 debacle. TMAC and Yao are off to fast starts, leading the team in scoring as expected and healthy. McGrady has added to his scoring machine mentality and began being the most expensive distributor of the ball – making his teammates around him better – drawing the double teams and becoming a master of the pass. Shane Battier has been everything that was expected of him. Allowing teams to come back in the 4th quarter has to stop and, recently, we’ve seen the Rockets hold on late to close games with a JVG-styled smothering defense.
On November 18, after an ugly win over the Sixers in OT at home, I wrote that the Clippers… um, what was the word I used… SUCKED! At the time they were 6 and 2 and leading their Division. They proceeded to lose 5 straight, equaling their longest losing streak of last season. So what’s wrong? I have many theories, but really they just haven’t been sharp. Particularly distressing is their 0-6 road record. They’ll have to win 2 of 3 the rest of the way, 45-23 in their remaining 68, to reach the 52 wins I predicted for them, but that’s totally doable if they start playing well. If they don’t get sharp, and soon, they’ll miss the playoffs – the West is just too deep.
Consecutive road losses and blown fourth quarter leads have dashed expectations for this season.
Coach Casey can’t commit to a consistent rotation from the hot seat. Even the constant starting lineup needs change. Hassell himself suggested the more productive Jaric replace him. Davis and James are struggling, the latter being robbed of minutes by T-Hud. Garnett is having another stellar season.
The rookies are the brightest hope for the imminent post-KG era. Smith has potential to be the team’s most reliable big man in years. Foye has blossomed, leading the team in recent fourth quarter runs that have kept them in contention, but still leaving fans questioning the direction of the franchise.
"Given the past medical expenses of several players, durability (or lack thereof) could prove to be the Hornets unraveling this season." Those were my fears in the season preview, and they're already coming through. David West, Peja Stojakovic and Tyson Chandler have so far missed a combined 11 games, and it may get worse before it gets better. Add to that, Chris Paul has not been his supernatural self and Byron Scott's substitution patterns are looking more suspect by the minute. It's been a strange ride so far, and yet, somehow, the Hornets are above .500. I don't get it either.
They're currently 6-11. Most people (those who aren't Knick fans, anyway) are delighted by this fact. Isiah still has a job—why, of course he does. People are only coming to MSG to see the stars on other teams. The Nate Robinson pendulum is swinging from awesome, to stupid, and finally, to stupidly awesome! I love him. Renaldo is starting from time to time (I'm convinced Isiah is doing it just to spite me). As of this writing, the Knicks are the East's best road team (5-5), but they also double as the worst home team (1-6). Simply amazing. It's a traveling circus. Enjoy it. Love it. Embrace the insanity of it all!
I said before that if the Blazers win 35 games it would be like winning the championship, and everyone should shave their heads or something. I'll be honest: this team is still super-flawed, and will not stand out, in all likelihood, in any statistical categories. That's what it's like when you're rebuilding. But we have an All-Star, two rookie of the year candidates, and despite wicked injuries to multiple starters (Brandon Roy, Joel Przybilla, Darius Miles, etc.), the team is hanging touch in a brutal western conference and is on pace to win 33, with wins against the Lakers, Hornets, and Nets. What's more, there is the whiff of a "team concept" for the first time in a long time. Keep your razor in one hand, and your optimism in the other.
The Kings are sitting just above .500. Where did I go wrong? I forgot this is "The Sacra-f'n-mento Kings," the team that has multiple major injuries every damn season. I can count Brad Miller's starts on one hand, and Mike Bibby played through an injury he probably shouldn't have, negating his offseason work. I was also a bit wrong about Kevin Martin. Actually, I wasn't right enough. I said he'd break through and score around 17 points on efficient shooting. He's scoring 25 on "what-the-frick?!?!" shooting. So yeah, demereit for me. There's still time for the Kings to take it to the next level, though, with the bulk of the East left to visit ARCO.
Anyone who looked closely at the schedule knew the Sonics have a
brutal first 2 months of the season. They have been close in every
loss except for the recent loss to San Antonio. The loss of Robert
Swift at Center to an ACL was significant, and still has the team
scrambling to make things work. Ray Allen has been in a shooting
funk, but everyone expects him to work through it. The Sonics need to
continue to improve on defense, and keep working the pick and roll
until someone figures out how to stop it.
God bless the Titanic Division! Despite starting off the season with a 1-7 record on the road the Raptors are within a game of the top spot in the Atlantic Division because of their 4-2 record at home. I entered the season with tepid optimism about the Raptors upcoming season but it’s been great to see Andrea Bargnani make huge gains and Chris Bosh solidify his status as one of the top young big men in the League. If the Raps can cure their road woes they could challenge for a playoff spot this season.
How I was wrong: The Jazz has shocked the league, myself included. Fisher has had no problem fitting in, Williams is playing as good as Paul,
Boozer is a frontrunner for MVP, and Okur can peacefully co-exist with
Carlos. How I was right: Despite the wins, Kirilenko has still struggled
to fit in. Modified Projection: This team is currently on pace to win 67
games, which is 24 games better than my projection of 43 wins. They
haven't won pretty in some cases, though, so I'll split the difference
and now forecast 55 wins for this squad.