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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.

Continue reading "2014 Toronto Raptors Preseason Report"


Raptors Fan

Slam Funk Scratch Card posted by Raptors Fan

Lovers of the NBA will be spending their Christmas holidays enthralled by the games being played over the festive season, given that less than 30 games have been played so far.  If you’re following the Eastern Conference your money will be on the Knicks or Miami Heat, although if you’re following the western conference you’ll be backing the Clippers or Oklahoma City Thunder.
But there is now more than one way to make a few bucks from basketball. The Slam Funk scratch card is an electronic version of many people’s weekly gamble. Combining disco and basketball in one smooth move, this instant win scratch card will be a hit with basketball-lovers and gamblers alike.  Click here to give some slots a try first, just to warm up, and then continue to the basketball goodness.
The 9 panels of the card hide groovy characters – 5 players and 1 cheerleader, and like any other scratch card three in a row means you’ve won a prize. The rainbow colour scheme matches their logo with a different colour background for every character. One groovy player is even spinning a disco ball!
Stakes on the card can range from $0.01 to $10 depending on how lucky you’re feeling. The payouts can range from 1x to 250x your wager meaning you can win up to $2500! To start the game just click ‘new card’, after which you can scratch each panel individually by clicking on each one, or by selecting ‘reveal all’ to show the characters automatically.
Given the disco and basketball mix when playing this game, you&rsContinue reading "Slam Funk Scratch Card"


Richard Kagan

Bulls looking Bullish over Toronto posted by Richard Kagan

The Chicago Bulls went to 16-8 with a win over the Toronto Raptors tonight.  Carlos Boozer scored a season high 34 points as the Bulls won 110-93.  Every starter contributed With Luol Deng and Derrick Rose playing strong games.  Joakim Noah had another double-double. 

Kyle Korver scored in double figures once again.  Chicago has a solid starting five and 2 or 3 solid guys coming off the bench.  Boozer gives the Bulls a low post presence and an active rebounder and takes some pressure off Noah grabbing every loose ball.  This team has some flexibililty and versatility and will win some games.  It is starting to look like not if the Bulls will make the playoffs which was a question the past few years, but how high a seed they will receive.

This teams looks like the most complete team since the hey-dey years of Jordan and Pippen.   There are other great teams in the East, The Celtics, the Magic, and the Heat.  They are loaded with great players.  The Bulls are a tough team and will give any team a good showing.  Considering how bad the Bulls were after the zenith of Michael, that is saying something.  Derrick Rose is a budding superstar.  He is fearless, commands the ball, is dangerous with it, and can score.

Rose is very quick and has great court sense.  He creates off the dribble.  One of the best players at doing that since Michael or Scottie.  He is a driver, a slasher and can shoot from 18 feet out.  Heck, he can shoot from 22 feet out. 

This is Boozer's 7th or 8th game since returning to the lineup.  He is is game shape and now we are seeing how talented he is.  A great addition to the team.

Continue reading "Bulls looking Bullish over Toronto"


john howard

NBA Playoffs Eastern conference posted by john howard

It's the All-Star break and time to asses where the season is at.  There are roughly 30 games left and the trading deadline is looming.  Here is a look at the playoffs if they were today.

1 Cleveland vs.  8 Chicago

2 Orlando vs   7 Miami

3 Atlanta vs 6 Charlotte

4 Boston vs 5 Toronto

Chicago looks like they have regressed overall from last year. But lately, they have started getting into the groove. Derrick Rose is unreal and they might win a game but they won't beat Cleveland.

Miami has one of the top 3 players in the game in Dwayne Wade.  This team could look different by playoff time. No matter how the team looks, it would take an incredible performance for even Wade to beat out Orlando.

Charlotte is a great story of over achieving.  They might be able to push Atlanta to a game 6, but that would be the best they could do.

The quietest success has been Toronto.  They are the 5th seed and no one is talking about them.  They have a shot to beat the Celtics if Boston is plagued with injuries.  But this has been a good year so far for the Raptors.

Boston has fallen from favorite to the 4th seed.  They still have the experience and firepower to go all the way. But, to do that everyone is going to have to get healthy and be at peak level which hasn't happened this year. Time is running out on the Celtics.

3 Atlanta has the best team in years.  They could be the underdog favorite after the first round.  A matchup with Orlando in round 2 is going to be fun.  Should they get past the Magic, they will be convinced they can beat anybody. 

Continue reading "NBA Playoffs Eastern conference"


Brad Hurt

Grizzlies 115, Raptors 107 posted by Brad Hurt

This just in : Zach Randolph is a beast.  Everyone who has said he would be a cancer and wouldn't play hard and is the same thug he was in Portland isn't looking very smart right now.  Randolph can single-handedly dominate the post for the Grizzlies this season.  He proved as much last night against the Toronto Raptors as the Grizz earned their first win of the season 115-107 on Friday.  Randolph led the Grizzlies with 30 points and seven rebounds.

Chris Bosh led all scorers with 37 points.  Sure, that is a high number, but the Grizzlies forced him to try to beat them single-handedly, focusing their defense on Hedo Turkoglu, who burned them in the past as a member of the Sacramento Kings.  Turkoglu managed only 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting.

The Grizzlies showed some of their youth with an inability to close the Raptors out when they built a double-digit lead in the first half, and lost the third quarter scoring battle as usual, but they outscored the visitors 39-28 in the fourth quarter to snuff out any hope of a comeback.

Along with Randolph, the Grizzlies got double figures from the other four starters, as well as 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench from rookie Demarre Carroll, who looks like he could be a stud.  Who needs DeJuan Blair when you can get a guy who will sacrifice his body for a loose ball, snatch rebounds out of nowhere and knock down a shot in the clutch?  Carroll earned a reputation as a scorer at Missouri, but he has shown there is little he can't do on the professional level, and he doesn't appear rattled yet in his first two appearances.  I'm sure his day will come, though.  It's a long season, and it drags down every rookie sooner or later.

Continue reading "Grizzlies 115, Raptors 107"


john howard

Toronto Raptors preseason posted by john howard

I have always enjoyed the Toronto Raptors. There is something about them that catches my eye.  They always have a knack for finding talent.  They just have a hard time keeping it.  This year they managed to bring one in: Hedo Turkoglu.

This year will be a year of gelling and growing.  How long will it take for Turkoglu, Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, and Jarrett Jack to gel?  The sooner the better.  This team should be one that improves throughout the year.

A lot of how much they improves relies on the progress of youngsters, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, and Marco Belinelli.   Toronto has a thin bench and one of these guys will start.  But, the other 2 will see plenty of time.  They are a shooting guard away from making the play offs and a year away from acquiring more bench help or having it develop.

This team is doing a nice job.

Continue reading "Toronto Raptors preseason"


Colin Linneweber

The NBA Draft's Five Best Second Overall Picks Since 1984 & Sammy Sosa Is a Joke and He Does Not Deserve Induction into the HOF posted by Colin Linneweber

The NBA Draft's Five Best Second Overall Picks Since 1984

The Los Angeles Clippers are expected to pick former Oklahoma Sooners star Blake Griffin Thursday with the first overall selection in the 2009 NBA Draft at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

However, there is not a consensus projection for the No. 2 pick and basketball analysts remain largely uncertain who the Memphis Grizzlies will choose tomorrow in Gotham.

In recognition of the NBA Draft, I have decided to rank the five most accomplished players selected second overall in the past quarter century.

1) Jason Kidd

Kidd, 36, attended the University of California and helped resurrect the Golden Bears dormant basketball program with his stellar play at the point guard position.

After being honored as a First Team All-American as a sophomore, Kidd declared for the NBA Draft and was selected 2nd overall by the Dallas Mavericks in 1994.

Unfortunately, the Bay Area native’s initial stint with the Mavericks didn’t materialize as most anticipated it would.

According to legend, singer Toni Braxton went to the Mavs team hotel to meet Kidd after a game.

However, instead of rendezvousing with Kidd, Braxton instead left with his Dallas teammate Jimmy Jackson and the two purportedly fornicated until the wee hours.

Subsequently, Kidd loathed Jackson and he demanded an escape from “Big D.”

Kidd, a 9-time All-Star and 6-time All-NBA nomination, was traded to the Phoenix Suns at the conclusion of the 1996 season and his career began to truly ascend in the desert.

Continue reading "The NBA Draft's Five Best Second ..."


Colin Linneweber

The 5 Best Second Overall Selections in the NBA Draft Since 1984 posted by Colin Linneweber

The Los Angeles Clippers are expected to pick former Oklahoma Sooners star Blake Griffin Thursday with the first overall selection in the 2009 NBA Draft at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. 

However, there is not a consensus projection for the No. 2 pick and basketball analysts remain largely uncertain who the Memphis Grizzlies will choose tomorrow in Gotham.

In recognition of the NBA Draft, I have decided to rank the five most accomplished players selected second overall in the past quarter century.


1)  Jason Kidd 

Kidd, 36, attended the University of California and helped resurrect the Golden Bears dormant basketball program with his stellar play at the point guard position. 

After being honored as a First Team All-American as a sophomore, Kidd declared for the NBA Draft and was selected second overall by the Dallas Mavericks in 1994. 

Unfortunately, the Bay Area native’s initial stint with the Mavericks didn’t materialize as most anticipated it would. 

According to legend, singer Toni Braxton went to the Mavs team hotel to meet Kidd for a date after a game. 

 However, instead of rendezvousing with Kidd, Braxton instead left with his Dallas teammate Jimmy Jackson and the two purportedly fornicated until the wee hours. 

Subsequently, Kidd loathed Jackson and he demanded an escape from “Big D.” 

Kidd, a 9-time All-Star and 6-time All-NBA nomination, was traded to the Phoenix Suns at the conclusion of the 1996 season and his career began to truly ascend in the desert. 

Continue reading "The 5 Best Second Overall Selections ..."


john howard

Toronto Raptors and the draft. posted by john howard

The Raptors had a horrible season finishing third from the bottom in the East.  Anthony Parker, Shawn Marion, and Jake Voskhul are all free agents.  That is 2 starters and a top bench player.  That leaves a shaky starting lineup:

PG--JOSE CALERSON  SG--JASON KOPONO  SF--JEOY GRAHAM  PF---CHRIS BOSH  C--ANDREA BARNANI

And a very weak bench.  Things may get worse before they get better.  I don't know of any trades, but perhaps a splash in free agency. It's not a big market this year.  And next year, Bosh is a free agent.  So the draft is the best bet for now.  The Raptors have the 9th pick in the draft.  There is bad news and great news with the 9th pick.  Of the past 14 drafts 7 have produced startes, 5 bench players and 3 flops.  The bad news is out of the top 10 picks, the 9 spot produces the least amount of startes and the most number of busts.  The great news is that the 7 starters are all-starts.  Picking first or third also produced 7 all-starts in that same span.  The 9th pick has yielded just as many all-starts as the 2nd, 6th, 7th, and 8th combined! So, the 9th spot is truly a hit or miss.  There isn't much in between.

The top 2 choices on mock boards appear to be either Gerald Henderson from Duke or Tyreke Evans from Memphis.  Both are sf/sg type guys who are athletic.  An all-star to go along side Bosh would be great.  This team is definately retooling.

Continue reading "Toronto Raptors and the draft."


Ryan Greyslak

Catching up with the Phoenix Suns rumors this off season and who should be kept around for next year? posted by Ryan Greyslak

There have been many rumors surrounding the Phoenix Suns since they missed the playoffs this season. Some of these rumored trades would actually help the team, but some of the options are only opportunities to cut payroll for the oncoming season and further destroy the team. Some of the biggest names involved in these rumors for the team have been Amare Stoudemire, Shaquille O’Neal, Steve Nash, Leandro Barbosa, and Jason Richardson.

 Shaq Rumors 

Shaquille O’Neal has not been shy about the fact that he would not mind playing for another team other then the Phoenix Suns and is interested in a contract to extend him for one to two more years. Some of the rumored teams to be interested in Shaq are Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, and New Orleans Hornets.

 

Cleveland has reportedly offered Ben Wallace (who might request a buyout or retire) and Sasha Pavlovich who has a non guaranteed contract. The Suns could potentially get out of both players and save money off payroll this year. This is a bad deal for the Suns and I would not expect it to happen for these players. They would get nothing for Shaq.

 

Another of the rumored teams interested in Shaq are the Dallas Mavericks. One of the rumored packages would send Jerry Stackhouse expiring contract and Erick Dampier. Dampier is guaranteed for the next two years at over 23 million. This again would be a horrible trade for the team and they would essentially be giving Shaq up for a smaller expiring contract and a slower less effective center. If the Suns have any talks with Dallas they should absolutely involve Josh Howard but it is rumored Sarver does not want to do business with Cuban.

Continue reading "Catching up with the Phoenix Suns ..."

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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. pic.twitter.com/e1kTQppNwY —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. pic.twitter.com/zJ5jFQFsDl —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 devine@yahoo-inc.com 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


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. pic.twitter.com/e1kTQppNwY —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. pic.twitter.com/zJ5jFQFsDl —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 devine@yahoo-inc.com 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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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]

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