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Wizards Fan

2014 Washington Wizards Preseason Report posted by Wizards Fan

2013-14 was a good season for the Washington Wizards, even though they were defeated by Indiana pacers in the semifinals of the Eastern Conference. Up to now, the Wizards were considered a mediocre team, as they have never made it to the playoffs since 2008. However, last February, the team had risen above .500 in standings, and managed to defeat the Bulls in the first playoff round. They ended the season with an impressive 44-38 record.

In season 2014-15, Washington Wizards could come in the top three spots in Eastern Conference, provided the team remains healthy. The Wizards are primarily focusing on John Wall and Bradley Beal, who are the young duo in the backcourt. Wall, who was first overall pick in the draft has performed excellently in breakout season, and could be the best point guard of the league. Beal on the other hand is SG and he has averaged over 17 points per game. If the duo is rested adequately and they stay focused, the team could perform much better.

Marcin Gortat has been re-signed for anchoring in C, and Nene in F/C could have a productive year. This duo with their size and toughness can provide excellent inside presence to the team. Last season, Otto Porter displayed mediocre performance at small forward, but he could improve under the mentorship of Paul Pierce, who has been brought in through free agency.

Randy Wittman, the head coach, was able to generate good performance from the team last season, and his contract has been extended. This means the team could improve under his guidance and make more progress in the playoffs. The 2014 draft was loaded, but Washington Wizards did not have a pick in the first round. Hence, whatever improvement is expected has to come from the available talent. Winning the championship might be a stretch, but they can manage second seed position in the East.

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Jazz Fan

2014 Utah Jazz Preseason Report posted by Jazz Fan

Utah Jazz did not have a good 2013-14 season, as they performed quite poorly. In his rookie year, Trey Burke did not play the first 12 games due to finger injury, and Jazz lacked the depth needed to fill the point guard void. The team was overall 4-19 without Burke, but after he came back, there were some improvements. However, in March, the team started declining again, and the last 24 games were a disaster. Burke was struggling with his shots, and Hayward was worse. The team ended the season with a record of 25-57.

For 2014-15 season, Utah Jazz is upbeat with training going full steam. However, the shaping of the roster will play a major role in their success this season. Ranking 20th in shot blocking last season, the team has good chances of making it to the top 12. Rudy Gobert performed well this summer and if he enters through rotation, the team will progress. However, Derrick Favors has dropped unexpectedly from 2.6 to 1.8, and his BLK has gone down from 5.7% to 3.8%. He is becoming more confident, and could return to his former play this season.

Alec Burks has improved considerably in the last season. He has gained more confidence, and he is able to take good decisions. Statistics indicate career highs across the board with AST% at 16.9, FTr at 449, and PER at 15.8. Corbin should also be credited with this improvement, as he changed Burks's point guard back-up position to that of scorer. It seems Burks might be the top scorer this season.

Utah Jazz is likely to open the roster with 15 this season, while in the past the team has started with 14. The team might be able to include a player with a guarantee date in January, which will cost less. Ian Clark and Felix might have guarantees, but if the free agents stick out, Utah might get rid of one of them to acquire long or short-term potential.

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Raptors Fan

2014 Toronto Raptors Preseason Report posted by Raptors Fan

Toronto Raptors missed the second round of the 2013-14 season playoffs by one possession. With 6.2 seconds remaining in Game 7, the ball was in the hands of their best player, Kyle Lowry, who made the shot, but Paul Pierce of Brooklyn Nets rejected it. Even though this was quite disappointing, the Raptors had a lot to cheer about in the season. In December, it almost ended for the team, but the Rudy Gay trade for four good players, saved the day. Demar DeRozan was awarded the all-star berth, and Lowry was clearly considered to be number one. The Raptors ended the season with a record of 48-34, which showed the franchise was progressing.

For 2014-15 season, things look promising for the Raptors. Even though DeRozan is the best player of the team, Lowry is still the force that drives the Raptors. Lowry has good decision-making skills, apart from being aggressive and a good shooter. However, any struggles or prolonged injury to Lowry would not be good for the team.

The backcourt of Toronto Raptors has been doing the major work in offense. On the other hand, the frontcourt has provided excellent protection, which ranked the team amongst the top ten in defense. Jonas Valanciunas was the main defense contributor, and his performance this season will play a major role in the success of the team. The only drawback could be his inexperience, as he sometimes was not sure about how to manage near the post.

Toronto Raptors will most probably start with Valanciunas, Amir Johnson, Terrance Ross, DeRozan, and Lowry, which is a great combination, as it features very strong backcourt and ideal overall defense. The trade of Rudy Gay during the mid-season, has brought about ideal pairing of DeRozan and Lowry, and bettered the depth of the team. All this puts the Toronto Raptors in a better position than what they were in the last season.

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Spurs Fan

2014 San Antonio Spurs Preseason Report posted by Spurs Fan

San Antonio Spurs performance was almost perfect, which earned them the 2013-14 season, championship title. The players performed as expected, and there was not a single contract, which could be considered bad. The Spurs ended the season with an impressive 62-20 record.

For the 2014-15 season, San Antonio Spurs have second best chance of winning the title again. The Spurs have met Miami Heat in the finals two times in a row, which makes Miami the favorite this season; however, changes in the team could keep shifting the odds between them. San Antonio Spurs have an excellent system in place for a long time, and Gregg Popovich could again lead the team to victory. The three star players, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan are no doubt getting older, but Popovich has managed their time excellently up to now, and he continues to do so this season as well.

Kawhi Leonard, who is a star and MVP of the last series, has been retained for $3million for the next season. Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner, and Paddy Mills are all key players, and are re-signed by the Spurs, and Greg Popovich, the coach, obviously had his contract extended. San Antonio Spurs are focusing completely on this season and considering legacies as well. Tim Duncan who was a rookie in 1999 anchored the team's first championship. He has five rings up to now, and he will be concentrating on getting his sixth, even though he is aging. For Duncan, a sixth title would make him all-time great, and he will not want to miss this opportunity.

Coach Popovich, and international stars, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili will also be aiming for the same thing of being listed as the all-time greats, and hence will be working hard towards their sixth win. Quite a bit is riding for these players this season, and hence we can expect the best from them.

Continue reading "2014 San Antonio Spurs Preseason Report"

Sac Kings Fan

2014 Sacramento Kings Preseason Report posted by Sac Kings Fan

The Sacramento Kings performed the same in 2013-14, as they have been performing in the past ten years, which is not great. The season started with a positive note, as Mike Malone was very fit as the coach, and Vivek Ranadive the owner, along with Chris Mullen and Pete D'Allessandro, the brain trust, displayed an aggressive attitude by picking up players with good potential, such as Derrick Williams and Rudy Gay. However, as usual, the team made many mistakes, missed the playoffs, and ended up with a dismal record of 28-54.

For 2014-15 season, Ranadive and the brain trust have high expectations, which could make some difference. The draft will provide the team with SG Nik Staukas, who is a good shooter, but this inclusion could be redundant, since the team already acquired SG Ben McLmore last season. Darren Collison was signed in a three-year deal, but the Kings had to give up Issiah Thomas, who was incumbent PG. However, the team has managed to acquire Thomas, who could be a valuable asset.

DeMarcus Cousins at C is Sacramento centerpiece, and the whole team is practically built around him. Cousins has made a big statistical jump, but this has not necessarily converted to wins. However, since he is Team USA player, the experience will provide the required maturity. Eric Moreland, Reggie Evans, Derrick Williams, Rudy Gay, Carl Landry, and Jason Thompson, will be playing along Cousins, which means the team's forward is well stocked with length and size. The team has also acquired Sid Bullar for C, who is a 7'5" Indian. However, he may not be as skillful as Yao Ming.

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Blazers Fan

2014 Portland Blazers Preseason Report posted by Blazers Fan

Portland Trail Blazers had a great 2013-14 season, as they managed better efficiency rather than a wider offense. In the season's initial two months, the team held the best Western Conference record. However, with the great start, everyone predicted the imminent fall, which eventually happened. Up to end of January, Portland Blazers were 11-3, which went down to 4-6 from February. By March end, it seemed the Warriors would overtake Blazers for the fifth spot, but the team finished strong by making the fifth seed. The Blazers finished with an impressive 54-28 record, and ousted the Rockets in the playoffs before being defeated by the Spurs.

For 2014-15 season, Portland Blazers are amongst the top teams, but certain experts believe they might not have a realistic chance for the title. In the current draft, a pick was not available for the team, and they opted for veterans in free agency. They acquired Chris Kaman and Steve Blake, and the team hopes their young players will begin to play as expected. C.J. McCollum, the pick in the first round of 2013 needs to up his game, as he did not play well after returning from his injury. Similarly, Thomas Robinson, who is the fifth pick of 2012, has to focus considerably on his defense skills. The veterans Blake and Kaman may not be excellent at defense, but they might be able to lead the available talent to meet expectations.

In the last season PG LaMarcus Aldridge and Damina Lillard performed much better than expected, and this year expectations are high for the duo. Robin Lopez at C, Wesley Matthews the shooter, and SF Nicholas Batum are considered the super three of Portland Blazers, and all of them will have to be at their best to meet expectation. Terry Stotts, the head coach will also have a major role to play in the success of the team, as experts are skeptical whether he could lead a team into the playoffs.

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Suns Fan

2014 Phoenix Suns Preseason Report posted by Suns Fan

Phoenix Suns were supposed to be in their downward spiral in 2013-14 season, but they managed to be the best team amongst teams that did not reach the playoffs. Ryan McDonough, the new general manager, before the starting of the season, gave up veterans, Luis Scola, Jared Dudley, and Macin Gortat, in trade. However, the new inclusions coexisted quite well, and Jeff Hornacek, the rookie coach, freed Bledsoe and Dragic for making plays and pushing the pace. Good comebacks were Gerald Green and Channing Frye, but when Bledsoe was injured, everything seemed bleak. However, Dragic came to the rescue by raising his game considerably. The Suns ended the season with a record of 48-34.

For the 2014-15 season, Ryan McDonough wants to bring back fast-paced offense with a lot of aggression, and build a team that can handle both the floor ends. In the previous draft, Phoenix selected Archie Goodwin and Alex Len, who are athletic and known for their two-way skills. With several picks in the current draft, Phoenix Suns select would be Alec Brown, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Tyler Ennis, and T.J. Warren. Ennis could be an upgrade from Ish Smith, as he is quite fluid, with a great handle. Even though he is not considered fast or athletic, Ennis makes up by this fast direction changes and quick bursts.

However, Phoenix Suns seemed to have passed certain players that could have fitted better into the system, such as Patric Young, K.J. McDaniels, Andreian Payne, and Garry Harris. Secondly, Goran Dragic, who is the best offense, might be more susceptible to injuries this season, as he has not rested at all. The Suns strategy seems to have shifted from two-way highly athletic players to prospects that can bring in skills and depth. The focus seems to be on intensifying and expanding, and the team seems to be satisfied with the existing athleticism.

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Sixers Blog

2014 Philadelphia 76ers Preseason Report posted by Sixers Blog

Even though the Philadelphia 76ers ended the 2013-14 season on a strong note, their overall 19-63 record was quite dismal. Out of the last eight games, the team managed to win three, which is not much, but considering they were1-26 during February and March, the last stretch does not seem bad. Earlier in the season, the 76ers displayed some hectic style, which brought some success, but it did not last. Brett Brown, the new coach seems to have introduced a strong pace where the players seemed to be fiercely jumping around the court, which gave them 3-0 start.

For 2014-15 season, the Philadelphia 76ers are as far away from winning the title, as they were in the previous season. Philadeliphia is known for gathering younger assets, and this year they seem to focus on the same strategy, rather than winning. Most probably, 76ers will trade their PF starter of last season for Anthony Bennett, who was overall first pick last year. Even though Bennett might have had the worst rookie season, he is still young and in good shape.

Nerlens Noel who did not play in his rookie year is quite raw, but he will be eager to show his athleticism and talent that made him the first overall pick in the draft last year. Joel Embid is another player having great potential, but unfortunately, he might be sitting it out this season due to his foot injury. If Noel and Embid are able to deliver their full potential, then Philadelphia will have a good foundation and might even reach the playoffs.

Elfrid Payton who plays PG was second selection by the 76ers in their first round picks. Payton has good length and is ready; however, he was traded for Dario Saric. This means Philadelphia is again trading wins in the new season for later.

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Magic Fan

Orlando Magic Preseason Report 2014 posted by Magic Fan

The starting of the 2013-14 season might have looked promising for the Orlando Magic, but they went into a downward spiral very soon, and ended with 23-59, which was the third worst NBA record. Nikolar Vucevic in spite of his athletic abilities was not able to deliver, and Victor Oladipo, who in spite of being best rookie since January could not win Rookie of the Year. The veterans were quite ineffective and they did not seem comfortable playing together.

For 2014-15 season, Orlando Magic might need to implement major changes. Willie Green, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo might be given PG positions. Oladipo has gained good experience compared to Payton in the last season. Even though Payton has good potential, he has a weak offense, and has issues moving the ball. For the offense, Aaron Gordon would be ideal at small forward, paired with Tobias Harris at PF.

Last season, Andrew Nicholson seemed buried at the PF position, and he would do much better at center. He was not able to defend effectively at PF last season, and his playing time was not much. Center would be a good position for Nicholson, as he can shoot jumpers and 3's, and he can be good at immediate offense, which Dedmon was not able to deliver. The remaining PF could go to Marvin Williams as free agent, and Kyle O' Quinn. For SG positions, Bend Gordon, Roy Deyvn Marble, and Evan Fournier would be ideal, whereas for SF, Moe Harkless and Aaron Gordon would be more suitable. Dewayne Dedmon, Andrew Nicholson, and Nik Vucevic would do well in C.

With this overall lineup, Orlando Magic might be able to deliver much better games, compared to what they did last season. Seth Curry would be a good inclusion to the team as a PG third-string, and Osby being a versatile player would suit the team as well.

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Thunder Fan

Oklahoma City Thunder posted by Thunder Fan

The 2013-14 season for Oklahoma City Thunder came to an end when they lost in the finals of Western Conference in Game 6 to San Antonio Spurs, who were eventually the champions. The Spurs were able to defeat Oklahoma three times, but in two of those games, Serge Ibaka was not playing due to his calf injury. However, overall, the season was quite good for Oklahoma, finishing with 59-23. In the postseason, the team survived tough games from Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies. In the end, Oklahoma was simply not good enough to match the Spurs.

For 2014-15 season, Oklahoma City Thunder has as much chance to be the champions as the Spurs. There seems to be changes in Oklahoma's approach, as indicated by the change in roster. During offseason, the team brought in veteran Sebastian Telfair and Anthony Morrow, and in the draft, they managed to snag Mitch McGary.

Even though they are an elite NBA team, the Thunder fell in its ranking for offense in the last season. From second place, they dropped to seventh; however, one of the main reasons for this slip was Westbrook's injury, and the team had to rely heavily on versatility of Durant. The new acquisitions seem ideal for seeking better shots and more movement of the ball.

Experts feel that it is going to be Thunder-Spurs final, but one must not forget that the Spurs have eliminated Oklahoma for last two years in succession. Oklahoma will have to prove that they are ready for the Spurs with a great offense. People are expecting a prolonged fight, and both teams will have to compete fiercely throughout the season for earning the first seed, which will provide advantage of playing on home grounds. However, Oklahoma City Thunder may not have performed enough during the offseason for closing the gap.

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NBA Basketball News

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BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: All 30 team previews, collected in one spot (Ball Don't

It's been 136 days since the San Antonio Spurs put the finishing touches on their five-game demolition of the Miami Heat to win the 2013-14 NBA championship. Since then, we've seen a new decision that knocked over the dominoes that shifted the balance of power in the Eastern Conference, a foot fracture that could tilt the brutal West, a long overdue change in L.A., and more movement —of players, coaches, front-office staffers and everything else —than you can shake a stick at ... except in San Antonio, of course, where the Spurs brought back their entire O'Brien-winning roster in pursuit of the repeat title that's thus far eluded them. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Basketball: Sign up and join a league today! ] It's been a long summer and early fall, and our seemingly interminable wait is now over. The 2014-15 NBA season tips off tonight, with looming monster /2014 FIBA World Cup star Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans hosting the Orlando Magic, the Spurs (and their fans ) getting their rings before taking on the retooled Dallas Mavericks, and Dwight Howard leading the Houston Rockets back to Hollywood to square off with the once-again-healthy Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. It ought to be a pretty fun night. We've spent the last month preparing for tonight, putting together in-depth looks at all 30 NBA teams —how we left them last season, what they did on their summer vacations, their big moves, big questions and all the storylines and subplots to keep an eye on this coming season. They're all collected here, in case you missed any, would like to take another look, or just want to study up before the opening buzzer. You can also find our predictions for the season ahead —our picks for the 2014-15 champion, who'll win each major individual award and more —right here . The links below point to each team's season preview, along with predicted records and playoff seeding.* Dig in, enjoy, and feel free to tell us where you think we've gone wrong —today, tomorrow, all season long and always —on Twitter , Facebook and Tumblr . * NOTE: A few of the Western Conference records listed below differ from those that appear in the team-by-team previews, many of which were published before Kevin Durant suffered the Jones fracture that will keep him out for the first six or so weeks of the season. That, as you might expect, led us to juggle a few things. Now, let's get to it: EASTERN CONFERENCE Atlantic Division 1. Toronto Raptors —50-32 2. Brooklyn Nets —38-44 3. New York Knicks —37-45 4. Boston Celtics —28-54 5. Philadelphia 76ers —15-67 Central Division 1. Cleveland Cavaliers —60-22 2. Chicago Bulls —57-25 3. Detroit Pistons —32-50 4. Indiana Pacers —28-54 5. Milwaukee Bucks —20-62 Southeast Division 1. Washington Wizards —48-34 2. Charlotte Hornets —46-36 3. Miami Heat —43-39 4. Atlanta Hawks —41-41 5. Orlando Magic —25-57 Which would mean, playoffs-wise ... 1. Cleveland 2. Chicago 3. Toronto 4. Washington 5. Charlotte 6. Miami 7. Atlanta 8. Brooklyn WESTERN CONFERENCE Northwest Division 1.** Oklahoma City Thunder —55-27 2.** Portland Trail Blazers —55-27 4. Denver Nuggets —36-46 4. Utah Jazz —24-58 5. Minnesota Timberwolves —20-62 Pacific Division 1. Los Angeles Clippers —59-23 2. Golden State Warriors —58-24 3. Phoenix Suns —47-35 4. Sacramento Kings —35-47 5. Los Angeles Lakers —27-55 Southwest Division 1. San Antonio Spurs —57-25 2.** Dallas Mavericks —50-32 3.** Houston Rockets —50-32 4. Memphis Grizzlies —45-37 5. New Orleans Pelicans —44-38 Which would mean, playoffs-wise ... 1. L.A. Clippers 2. Golden State 3. San Antonio 4. Oklahoma City/Portland** 5. Portland/Oklahoma City** 6. Dallas/Houston** 7. Houston/Dallas** 8. Phoenix ** depending on tiebreakers More NBA coverage: [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

All of the Portland Trail Blazers got brand new motivational hammers to start the season (Photo)

Welcome to the 2014-15 NBA season, Portland Trail Blazers. Please report to your lockers, inspect your uniforms to ensure that your last name is spelled properly, and pick up your complimentary personalized big ol' hammer. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Basketball: Sign up and join a league today! ] Each Blazers player was given one of these today from the organization. —Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) October 28, 2014 Now, I know what you're thinking, and the answer is no. The NBA didn't decide to implement Marcin Gortat's idea of allowing fighting during games and go one step further by encouraging players to have weapons at the ready should the beef get to sizzling. (I know what else you're thinking, and yes, I too immediately thought that Robin Lopez probably named his hammer Mjolnir .) These are merely inspirational hammers, hammers of metaphor and imagery, intended to remind the members of this year's Blazers squad —facing the difficult task of building upon last season's surprising 54-28 record and second-round playoff appearance —of the importance of giving it their all each and every night. From Erik Gundersen of The Columbian : According to Wesley Matthews, who was so kind as to let us take a picture, the hammers are a reminder to “keep grinding, stay on our worst behavior.”Some players had theirs out while some still had them in their box. [...] To recap, the hammer for each player is just a physical manifestation of the “COMPETE”mantra the Blazers have on their gear, all over their locker room and practice facility. This sort of "physical manifestation" has been a go-to move for some coaches in years past. Recall, if you will, Dwane Casey having a 1,300-pound boulder plunked inside his office after taking over the Toronto Raptors, which put to shame the 200-pound hunk of granite that Jon Gruden showcased inside the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' locker room during their 2002-03 Super Bowl run. I prefer the Blazers' token talismans, though. Easier to move, and plus, you can use them for repairs around the house. All these rocks and hammers, of course, circle back to the same point of inspiration —the following famous quote by Danish-American social reformer and activist Jacob Riis: "When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before." Riis' quote became a mantra for Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs, and was later deployed by former Spurs assistant Mike Brown during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, and by Lawrence Frank during his stint with the Detroit Pistons, and by a slew of other coaches all over the place. (It's a copycat league, after all.) The co-opting makes sense —it's smart to emphasize hard work, perseverance and focus on process rather than immediate results, after all —but it's especially nice to be able to connect yourself to five-time NBA champion Popovich, who loves the quote so much that he used it as the name of his wine . Keep your eyes and palates peeled for Pop dropping that new Jacob Riisling in the summer of 2015. Amar'e Stoudemire, for one, can't wait . Whether Terry Stotts experiences more success in Portland with his hammering than Brown did in L.A. or Frank did in Detroit remains to be seen, but if nothing else, the Spurs' ring night ceremony offered a pretty stellar and shiny reminder of what can happen if you just keep swingin' 'em: The pounding the rock detail on the Spurs' title rings is excellent. —Andrew A. McNeill (@drew_48moh) October 29, 2014 I mean, personalized tools are one thing, but there's a hell of a motivator. More NBA coverage: - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

The 10-man rotation, starring the rest of the Pelicans and the Anthony Davis hangover (Ball Don%

A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C : SB Nation . Kevin Zimmerman on the things that went wrong for the New Orleans Pelicans in their opening-night win over the Orlando Magic — namely, just about everything that wasn't specifically related to emerging monster Anthony Davis. Is Davis good enough to paper over the Pelicans' problems over the course of a full season? PF : Miami Herald . Joseph Goodman on Chris Bosh getting "wild, Boardwalk and Park Place-type generational money " this summer, and now having to handle the pressure that comes with it and provide the scoring it demands. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Basketball: Sign up and join a league today! ] SF : Mother Jones . Ian Gordon and Sam Brodey remind us that all is not beer and Skittles just because Donald Sterling is gone with a handy chart entitled, "How Evil Is Your Owner?" SG : Fast Break . A good read from Adam Lauridsen on how Klay Thompson's looming contract impacts the rest of the Golden State Warriors' salary cap structure, and what it could mean for versatile and vital forward Draymond Green. PG : The Diss . Jacob Greenberg's piece on what he can and can't predict about the NBA season, each and every year, has some fantastic turns of phrase and some very relatable emotional points. A worthwhile read. 6th : Regressing . Brett Koremenos with a great look at how Steve Kerr and Alvin Gentry are working to craft an offensive system worthy of all the talent on the Golden State Warriors roster. 7th : LA Weekly . Jeff Weiss' 2014-15 Los Angeles Lakers Survival Guide was equal parts depressing and hilarious before Opening Night; now , though, it skews more toward the former. 8th : Deadspin and The Hook . Albert Burneko on the Lakers' "saucepan helmet of shot charts," and Tom Ziller on the chance that L.A.'s actually terrible like a fox . 9th : Grantland . Robert Mays on Nikola Mirotic, Toni Kukoc, Ivica Dukan and the Chicago Bulls' history of landing European talent. 10th : NBAStuffer . The always helpful visualization of the schedule gives us a color-coded look at the longest homestands (the Clippers will be in L.A. for nearly three weeks after Christmas) and road trips (hey there, Spurs!) on the NBA calendar. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Celtics-Rockets Preview (The Associated Press)

After getting referred to as "soft" in a quiet season opener, Dwight Howard is feeling good heading into the Houston Rockets' first home game following a bounce-back effort. The Boston Celtics hope to spoil Houston's home opener after Rajon Rondo returned to spark a victory in their debut. With Howard and the Rockets seeking their second straight 3-0 start, Rondo and the Celtics will try to open the season with consecutive wins for the first time in five years on Saturday night. Cameras caught Kobe Bryant calling Howard "soft" - among other things - as the two jawed at one another in Houston's 108-90 season-opening win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

NBA Halloween highlights: 'Pornstache' Westbrook, Khal D-Will-go, Swaggy Rick James, Li%

It's Oct. 31, which can mean only one thing —the frustrating lack of closure to a number of young extension-eligible players who will become restricted free agents this summer! No, wait, that's not it —well, I mean, that is it , but it's not all . It's also Halloween, which means a bunch of NBA players are celebrating the somewhat shocking rarity of finding costumes that fit the very tall and muscular among us. Let's review some of the more notable All Hallow's Eve entries, shall we? [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Basketball: Sign up and join a league today! ] Several days before his Halloween turned truly horrifying , Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook got us started with his portrayal of George "Pornstache" Mendez , Pablo Schreiber's alternately terrifying and laughable mustachioed corrections officer from "Orange is The New Black": Several of Westbrook's teammates suited up, too, with Andre Roberson going with the ol' reliable Ghostbuster costume, Steven Adams (who'd have made a dynamite "Pornstache" as recently as a month ago ) as "Cast Away"-era Tom Hanks, Lance Thomas as Finn from Cartoon Network's "Adventure Time" and, tucked away in the right-hand corner, rookie Mitch McGary as Batman villain Bane from "The Dark Knight Rises": While Westbrook went Netflix, Deron Williams went the HBO GO route, donning his warrior's braid to dress as Khal Drogo in a "Game of Thrones"-inspired couples costume with his wife, Amy, as Daenerys Targaryen, a.k.a. Khaleesi: Got so real last night. Had to take a mid-party turn up break. @redbullNYC #gotwings #HappyHalloween #GameOfThrones —Deron Williams (@DeronWilliams) October 31, 2014 The Brooklyn Nets point guard was joined at The Players' Tribune's Halloween party by teammates Brook Lopez, whose foot injury might be keeping him out of the lineup , but didn't prevent him from kicking it as the Black Ranger: Check out TPT's Facebook page for more pics from the party —The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) October 31, 2014 (Not as good as J.R. Smith: Power Ranger , but still, pretty decent.) And yes, that is Andrei Kirilenko as a member of the Na'vi from "Avatar": Young Nets Mason Plumlee, Cory Jefferson and Sergey Karasev went as Homer Simpson, Superman and a skeleton, respectively, according to The Brooklyn Game , but to me, none of those are nearly as much fun as rookie Markel Brown explaining why "Freddy vs. Jason" is his all-time favorite Halloween movie: "... because you have two characters in the same movie, and they just trying to destroy each other, while killing others." That "while killing others" is just absolutely wonderful. Likewise wonderful: Former Net and current Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce, a longtime staple of NBA Halloween greatness , decided to both get involved in the unstoppable superheroization of American popular entertainment and stay true to his new squad's color scheme: Ladies and gentleman Paul Pierce !!!:)) #legend #this #guyyyyyy 😂😂😂 —Marcin Gortat (@MGortat) October 31, 2014 Maybe this is just my irrepressible patriotism shining through, but for my money, Pierce's Cap was a more successful superhero effort than his former Boston Celtics teammate Jared Sullinger's Extra-Muscly Spider-Man With Necklaces: Happy Halloween guys!!! Be safe and have fun —Jared Sullinger (@Jared_Sully0) October 31, 2014 While a good superhero costume's always a winner, you've always got to award high marks for a little bit of extra creativity. So here's to you, New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert, for showing up Friday as a literal sneakerhead: Sure, Nick Young's injured and can't play for what might be the worst Los Angeles Lakers team we've ever seen, but not even that can get him down while he's playing the "Chappelle's Show" representation of Rick James: But despite Swaggy's work in the role he was clearly born to play, the award for best commitment this Halloween comes from this Philadelphia 76ers fan —or, perhaps more accurately, whoever was holding the marker while putting all the right touches on this Allen Iverson costume: All that's missing is a receipt from T.G.I. Friday's. With all due respect to the players and this one remarkable little fan, though, the best scare of NBA Halloween came from an owner: Man, it's only Game 1, and Steve Ballmer's out here terrifying his son after a Los Angeles Clippers win. The only thing scarier than that is ... well, Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder's face (via the great @cjzero ). Here's hoping you don't see anything scarier than that this Halloween weekend. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

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