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2008, November: ESPN.com 2008-09 NBA PREVIEW

November 18, 2008

 2008-09 Prediction: Celtics still the ones in Atlantic
Our collective wisdom: For the second season in a row, the Boston Celtics will rule the Atlantic Division. Editor's note: We asked our panel of NBA experts, "Who will win the Atlantic Division?"

 

1. Boston Celtics: 18 votes (unanimous)
Jalen Rose, ESPN: The defending champs will not be content or satisfied, knowing they have a legit chance to repeat.

2008-09 prediction: Magic tighten grip on Southeast
With Turkoglu outside and Howard inside, the Magic should be able to take another Southeast title. Editor's note: We asked our panel of NBA experts, "Who will win the Southeast Division?"
1. Orlando Magic: 17 votes
Jalen Rose, ESPN: The Mickael Pietrus signing didn't make national headlines, but it will have a big impact.
2. Atlanta Hawks: 1 vote

2008-09 Prediction: Pistons hold off Cavs in Central
Is 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
Jalen Rose, ESPN: Through multiple coaches, they've reached six straight Eastern Conference finals with basically the same core of players.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: 7 votes

2008-09 prediction: Hornets to take over Southwest
Chris Paul will be happy to have James Posey around to help N.O. win a talented Southwest Division. Editor's note: We asked our panel of NBA experts, "Who will win the Southwest Division?"
1. New Orleans Hornets: 14 votes
Jalen Rose, ESPN: With a productive bench, it's the Hornets. Tyson Chandler plays in his first All-Star Game, and his rebounds and blocked shots will anchor the defense.
2. Houston Rockets: 4 votes

2008-09 prediction: Jazz still best in Northwest
This Jazz quintet and their supporting players appear to be headed to a third straight Northwest crown. Editor's note: We asked our panel of NBA experts, "Who will win the Northwest Division?"
1. Utah Jazz: 15 votes
Jalen Rose, ESPN: Jerry Sloan has a chance to win his first coach of the year award.
2. Portland Trail Blazers: 3 votes

2008-09 prediction: Lakers lords of Pacific
Give yourselves a hand, Los Angeles Lakers: You're the unanimous pick to win the Pacific Division. Editor's note: We asked our panel of NBA experts, "Who will win the Pacific Division?"
1. Los Angeles Lakers: 18 votes (unanimous)
Jalen Rose, ESPN: Only two players 30 or over (Fisher and Bryant). The frontcourt core of Gasol and Bynum should really emerge. Lamar Odom may not start but will finish.

2008-09 Prediction: Celtics will repeat in East
Most analysts expect the Celtics' firepower and esprit de corps to bring them through the East again. Editor's note: We asked our panel of NBA experts, "Who will win the Eastern Conference?"
1. Boston Celtics: 13 votes
Jalen Rose, ESPN: Will hold the crown until it is taken.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: 3 votes
3. Detroit Pistons: 2 votes

2008-09 prediction: Lakers win wide-open West race
Kobe Bryant should have plenty of helping hands in a bid for a repeat Western Conference title. Editor's note: We asked our panel of NBA experts, "Who will win the Western Conference?"
1. Los Angeles Lakers: 7 votes
Jalen Rose, ESPN
T-2. New Orleans Hornets: 4 votes
T-2. Houston Rockets: 4 votes
4. San Antonio Spurs: 2 votes
5. Utah Jazz: 1 vote

2008-09 prediction: Lakers look like NBA champs
Last season, the Lakers showed they had what it took to reach the Finals. This time, they can win it all. Editor's note: We asked our panel of NBA experts, "Who will win the NBA title?"
1. Los Angeles Lakers: 7 votes
Jalen Rose, ESPN
2. Boston Celtics: 5 votes
T-3. Houston Rockets: 2 votes
T-3. New Orleans Hornets: 2 votes
T-3. San Antonio Spurs: 2 votes

Let the games begin. And for that matter, the story lines, too. The 2008-09 NBA season is here, and our experts make predictions.

Jalen Rose, ESPN preseason predictions for titles:
Atlantic: Boston
Southeast: Orlando
Central: Detroit
Southwest: New Orleans
Northwest: Utah
Pacific: LA Lakers
East: Boston
West: LA Lakers
Champ: LA Lakers

Jalen Rose, ESPN preseason predictions for awards:
Coach: Jackson
DPOY: Garnett
MIP: Mason
Rookie: Beasley
6th: Barbosa
MVP: James

NBA East Dime Preview:
Has a franchise ever belonged more to one player than the Cavs under the rule of King James?
ROSE: CENTRAL: 2 | EAST: 5  The mobility of Ilgauskas and declining production of Ben Wallace will hurt the interior on both ends. LeBron will have the chance to win his first MVP award. Mo Williams has the ability to create off the dribble and shoot it.

NBA West Dime Preview:
After a tumultuous 2007 offseason, just getting to the Finals was enough to make the Lakers' season a smashing success. But this year, the expectations are much higher for Kobe and his crew.
ROSE: PACIFIC: 1 | WEST: 1  This team should be salty after having to watch Boston's Gatorade bath in the Finals. Kobe could win back-to-back MVP awards. Gasol and Bynum — the new twin towers? Will miss Turiaf. What happens with Odom? Will he be a starter? A sub? Get an extension? Get traded?