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What does the Oklahoma Thunder have to do to win a Championship? (1 comment)

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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.

Continue reading "Oklahoma City Thunder"


NBA News

NBA BasketBall Betting, the Top Teams and their Prospects for 2013, 2014 Season posted by NBA News

In the 2012, 2013 prediction of the NBA game seven, Miami Heat were the favorites to win according to basketball sports betting sites. They went ahead to win against the spurs. Miami Heat were defending their title for the second time. Spurs were not the favorites but they had raised hope in many people that they had a chance to take the title. Most odd makers had put odds in the fact that the game will be close. This prediction also came to be true with the final 95, 88 score. There are those that are looking for Miami Heat’s prospect for the 2013-2014 season.

Defending the Title

Miami Heat are favorites to win again in early predictions for this season. The Lebron James magic is expected to play out again as he leads his time to another victory and defend their title. Some predict that Lebron may retain his Most Valuable Player of the year title this coming season. He has consistently shown his skills in shooting, defending and attacking.

On the other hand it may be too early to judge. What are the real prospects of defending the title? Defending the title for the third time will not be that easy. There is talk of Dwayne Wade’s knee injury. Whether he will be part of the action next season and whether Lebron can do without him, is another important factor that will determine the prospects for the team this coming season.

Westbrook’s Return to Oklahoma City

Another team to watch is Oklahama City Thunder. Some odds place it second for the title after Miami Heat. Their prospects are also good. The team up of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook is going to be interesting to watch this season. The two are expected to help lead the team towards the title. However Russell has been on crutches and is widely expected to recover in time but how well he recovers and the level of his game remains to be seen.

Continue reading "NBA BasketBall Betting, the Top Teams ..."


Randolph Charlotin

Refreshed Bench posted by Randolph Charlotin

Focus on the last names:

 

Jeff GREEN.

 

Troy MURPHY.

 

They were meant to be Celtics.

 

If Danny Ainge stopped his trade deadline dealings at the two-for-two swap that sent C Kendrick Perkins and G Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Green and Nenad Kristic, then fan dread over Boston’s chances in the playoffs would be understandable.

 

But Trader Dan was far from done. Often with Ainge, he makes a deal with complementary moves in mind. The two trades that followed Perkins’ departure cleared room for productive veteran players on the bench and improved versatility.

 

Celtic fans have a tough time accepting change from a winning formula. Perkins was the anchor in the middle of the defense, an intimidator that protected the paint from intruders. The Celtics hung their hat on being a physical defense-first team and was the cornerstone.

 

Health permitting, Boston could had claimed their NBA-record 18th championship. But health hasn’t been on the Celtics’ side this season. Already down are the two O’Neals (Jermaine and Shaquille) and G/F Marquis Daniels. Ainge decided not to wait and hope for modern medicine.

 Upon arrival Kristic was in the starting lineup and Green came off the bench. Regardless of their performance (they helped the Celtics win against the Los Angeles Clippers), they were available to play, which is something Perkins and Daniels can’t do right now. Perkins is expected to miss his first two to three weeks while Daniels might not play another game this season.

Continue reading "Refreshed Bench"


john howard

Thunder Go Green on Pistons posted by john howard

With 7 seconds left who would you go to?  Kevin Durant no doubt.  If not, the blazing quick Westbrook.  Last night, the Pistons took both those options away, leaving Jeff Green one on one with Maxiell.  Green layed it up.  Oklahoma City took a one point lead with 2.5 seconds left.  What was more impressive is what Westbrook did next.  No one talked about it.  There was no post game interview, but Westbrook did something that every high school coach dreams of.  He turned his the dribbler not once, but twice in 2.5 seconds.  Ben Gordon got the ball on the in bounds and Westbrook forced him to change directions twice.   Every time you turn your defender, the defense has many advantages.  One, you can double team with his back turned. Two, as in this case, they don't make much progress up the floor.  And, three, it eats up clock.  He may be the best defensive point guard in the league.

Oklahoma City shot a terrible 38% from the floor and only hit 2 three pointers.  They made for it with 14 steals and 44 free throw attempts.  Durant ended up with 30 points and 13 trips to the line.  Westbrook had 17 points and 10 free throw tries.  The shooting must improve and someone has to hit 3's.  They acquired sharp shooter Dequan Cook who has yet to hit a 3.   Cook and Harden where a combined 0 for 7.  Both can shoot, so they will change.  But, Cook's defense is going to have to improve to earn a spot in the rotation.  He gave up an easy bucket at the end of the 3rd quarter.  Cook's has gotten close to 15 minutes each game and they may fall if he doesn't start hitting shots.

Continue reading "Thunder Go Green on Pistons"


john howard

Oklahoma City Thunder run with the Bulls posted by john howard

The Thunder open the season with a victory over the Chicago Bulls.  The defensive pressure led by Thabo Sefaloosha was too much for the Derrick Rose and the Bulls.  He had 4 blocks and 2 steals.

Russell Westbrook is on the fast track to becoming a premier player in this league.  He got to the free throw line 13 times, had 10 rebounds, 28 points, and only 3 turn overs.   Talk about production at the point, Eric Maynor came off the bench and added ten points with perfect shooting.  38 points from the pg and only 3 turnovers is incredibl.e

 Kevin Durant landed on his tailbone in the 3rd qtr but appeared to be ok when he returned.  He didn't shoot it great, but led all scorers with 30 points and added 7 rebounds.

Jeff Green, as usual, did a little bit of everything and was the Thunder's 3rd scorer over twenty with 21.  Serge Ibaka had 8 points and 9 rebounds. 

The only dissappointment of the night was newcomer Dequan Cook who went 0 for 4 beyond the arc.  If he is going to stick with the team and earn a spot in the rotation, he must stick shots.

This team got off to a very good start.  Go Thunder!!!

Continue reading "Oklahoma City Thunder run with the Bulls"


john howard

Summer League Scare for Thunder. posted by john howard

New comer Cole Aldrich did not play in OKC's first summer league game of the year.  in fact, the Thunder did not start a single rookie. 

James Harden did not make a single 3pt shot, but attempted 18 free throws and had 19 points for the Thunder. 2nd year player Eric Maynor had 5 assists and 15 poinsts.   DJ White continues to show he can score with 13pts on 29 minutes and 6 rebounds.  He may be needed this year if Serge Ibaka's injury is significant.  He went down with a knee injury but walked off the floor.  There is no word yet on what his condition is. 

The star of the night was Byron Mullins who had 24 points and 7 rebounds with 2 blocks.  He played a lot in the developmental league and saw limited time with OKC last year.  He is a good pick and pop player that can allow Durant and Westbrook to exploit one on one matchups.  Should he continue to develop, he could allow the Thunder to let Krstic go and simply replace him with Mullins.  I think that is the plan for now. 

Continue reading "Summer League Scare for Thunder."


john howard

The Thunder keep getting better. posted by john howard

Two of the biggest needs for the Thunder are inside presence and outside shooting.  They got the shooter by trading the 32nd pick to Miami for sharp shooter D. Cook and the 18th overall pick.  Wow!  The move helps Miami trim the cap space they are fighting while acquiring a very high second round pick to go along with the other 3 second rounders they already have.  Second round picks are not guaranteed like first round ones are. So, Miami doesn't have to keep the guys they draft. 

As for the Thunder, Cook will help spread the floor and give them more punch off the bench.  He is only $2.2 against the cap. So, he is a very inexpensive shooter that helps fill a need.  But more impressive in this deal is the 18th pick to go along with the 21st and 26th.  With 3 picks, the Thunder could trade up and try and take a good big man.  But, I don't know who will trade down.   Rumors have it that Indiana wants a point guard, but not at the ten.  Epke Udoh from Baylor may be available at the ten. 

They may simply draft and then deal one or two of the players for future picks.  They should get somebody that will help with the 3 picks.  Nick Collison is in final year of contract and BJ Mullins doesn't look like the answer.  DJ White has had moments and I think he can score inside.  But, there is one thing that makes all players better: competition.  Bring in people to challenge White and Mullins for a spot not only in rotation, but on the team, and you will get better.

From the mocks I've seen, Daniel Orton's name has been popping up at both the 18th and 21st.   James Anderson may possibly fall to 18th and Damion James could be available at 18th.   Both could give a slasher, playmaker type to sub in for Durant and play with the second unit.    Then, they have the 26th pick to gamble on a foreign player.  Like they did with Serge Ibaka.  He didn't come to play untila full year after he was drafted. 

Continue reading "The Thunder keep getting better."


john howard

NBA draft, Who Drafts the Best? posted by john howard

There are three ways an NBA team can improve:  1) Draft  2) Trades  3)  Free Agency.

 I've taken a look at how well teams have drafted since 2003.  I used the number of rebounds, points, assist, steals, and blocks to help me rank the teams on their ability to draft.  If a player was acquired via a trade, he counts towards the team that received him in the trade.  Also, the statistics that count are only the ones that the player acquired while with the team that drafted him.  So, if a player was traded and then became a good player, that team lost out.  Let's see the results.

The first list is the most simple.  It is how teams rank by just counting all the points, rebounds, steals, blocks and assists:

1)  Chicago

2)  Portland

3)  Oklahoma City

4)  Atlanta

5)  New Orleans

6)  Toronto

7)  Boston

8)  Orlando

9)  New York

10) Miami

11)  Cleveland

12) Sacramento

13) Charlotte

14) Philadelphia

15)  Denver

16)  Memphis

17) LA Clippers

18) Utah

19)  Washington

20) Indiana

21)  Golden State

22) Minnesota

23)  La Lakers

24) Milwaukee

25)  New Jersey

26) Detroit

27) Phoenix

28) Houston

29) Dallas

30) San Antonio

This is a pretty good look at how well teams have been drafting.  Portland is really high on the list, but has 15 picks since 2003.  Oklahoma City had 12, while NY and Memphis each had 10.  On the flip side, other teams had less than one per year.  So, stockpiling picks has a positive effect. 

Continue reading "NBA draft, Who Drafts the Best?"


Joe Franciosa, Jr.

Congratulations OKC !!! posted by Joe Franciosa, Jr.

I just wanted to congratulate Oklahoma City Thunder fans. Now you too know the joy of a "Beat L.A." chant that comes to fruition.

To be clear, I don't believe OKC has any hope of winning their seven game series. However, every game the Lakers lose is another they have to play to advance, and with their players advancing ages, one can hope that the Thunder's tenacity is taking its toll on the Laker team. So, while the celebrations are likely to be short-lived, I'll congratulate OKC and their fans one last time. "Beat L.A."!!!

Continue reading "Congratulations OKC !!!"


Johnny Matheis

Spot plays 04/03/2010 posted by Johnny Matheis

Before getting to the big races, most people like to wager on the races leading up to them. Here are some nice spot plays for 04/03/2010:

For each race, there will be a projected order of finish, listing, in order:

PROGRAM NUMBER-NAME OF RUNNER-PROBABLE ODDS-COMMENTS:

Then good bets, exactas, 50 cent trifectas and 10 cent superfectas will be listed:

2nd RACE GULFSTREAM 1 MILE Maiden claiming:

6 RUTH WONDERS 7-2 -Looks to be a sure thing, but anything is possible with young runners 

9 INTERCOM 8-1 Consistent, not likely to win, but hard to keep off board here

7 COUNTRY GREEN 20-1 Addition of Lasix may be all that's needed to hit board here

12 DANCE OF THE TIGER 4-1 Big class drop makes it a "must use" in exotics

2 I CAN SEE A GENIUS 20-1 Ran poorly as a 2 year old in September, has time to grow, and good jockey change

13 KINDA KINDA (Also eligible, not likely to get in)

11 CONSOLACION SUR 20-1 -passes some in stretch, but hitting the board still a challenge

1 KILLARNEY MIST 5-2-We've seen her best, and it isn't impressive

10 JEANNIE S 20-1 -a bit of a class drop may help here

3 LYNN'S PRINCESS 20-1 -already has 22 lifetime starts in April of 3 year old year.

5 DOINITWITHSTYLE 20-1 Fades

4 SHAHADAROBA 20-1-Also fades in stretch

8 SEXY THUNDER 20-1 -just nothing to like

BEST BETS: WPS on 6, Show on 6,11,12: Trifecta Box 6,7,9,12: Superfectas Wheel 6 with 9,12 with 1,2,7,9,11,12 with All, Wheel 9,12 with 6 with 1,2,7,9,11,12 with 1,2,7,9,11,12, Wheel 6,9,12 with 6,9,12 with 1,2,6,7,9,11,12 with 1,2,6,7,9,11,12

Continue reading "Spot plays 04/03/2010"

Oklahoma City Thunder News

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BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Phoenix Suns (Ball Don't Lie)

The Arizona desert turned up a UFO crash in 1953, purple alien eggs just last year and Lord knows what else in the 60 years between. It’s only natural the Phoenix Suns add another wrinkle to their own weird science experiment, turning a two-headed snake into a three-headed monster in the backcourt. In a strange summer, general manager Ryan McDonough agreed to  a four-year, $27 million contract with Sacramento Kings dynamo Isaiah Thomas on the day the NBA’s moratorium lifted, seemingly signaling the end of fellow restricted free agent point guard Eric Bledsoe’s fun in the Arizona sun. But the NBA Executive of the Year runner-up doubled down, inking Mini LeBron to a five-year, $70 million deal some two months later. With All-NBA Third Team selection Goran Dragic also in the Phoenix mix, McDonough effectively created the league’s most dangerous polycephalous point guard. So, the Suns will roll the dice with a troika of All-Star-caliber guards, identified flying object Gerald Green and a mysterious frontcourt in an attempt to recreate last year’s bizarre 48-34 record, which tied the 2007-08 Golden State Warriors for the best season by a team that didn't make the playoffs since the NBA switched to the 16-team playoff format in 1984. Under NBA Coach of the Year runner-up (noticing a trend here) Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix played at a top-10 pace in his first season at the helm, and the Suns will run again, even faster if possible. Only, they’ll have to do so without Channing Frye, whose floor-stretching capacity from the power forward position translated into 8.3 additional points per 100 possessions in his 28.2 minutes a night on the floor, according to Basketball-Reference.com . Out of the Frye pan and into the fire will be Markieff Morris, whose own breakout 2013-14 season (2,153 minutes, 13.8 points, six rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, 56.4 True Shooting percentage, 18.4 Player Efficiency Rating) earned him a four-year, $52 million deal to split unevenly with his twin brother, Marcus Morris. Sharpshooting veteran free agent forward Anthony Tolliver (41.3 percent on a career-high 247 3-point tries for Charlotte last year) and young center projects Miles Plumlee and Alex Len round out a bigs mess. Add a pair of potential mid-first-round steals in T.J. Warren and Tyler Ennis, another Dragic named Zoran and a post- “super extreme” DUI suspension P.J. Tucker, and it should be another supernatural season for the 2013-14 League Pass legends. Last year taught us this much about the Suns: They are here. 2013-14 season in 140 characters or less: What the Ish is this? The weirdest collection of awesome under the Suns. Did the summer help at all? The Suns let their most productive big walk , spent the money Frye got in Orlando on a third point guard , handed one contract to a pair of twins , signed their best player’s brother and drafted one half of Bojan and Bogdan Bogdanovic — all as their starting small forward spent a no expenses paid three-day vacation in county jail . So … just yourtypical NBA offseason? Seriously, that’s freaky, even by their standards. Go-to offseason acquisition: Had Thomas not stood just 69 inches tall, he would have commanded far more than $27 million over four years in free agency. After all, the Sactown sparkplug was one of six players to average 20 points and six assists while posting a PER above 20 this past season. The others: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook. Those dudes aren’t so bad. Thomas comes with another caveat, though, since Sacramento’s fast-paced offense and non-existent defense over the past decade has produced plenty of padded stats that haven’t translated elsewhere. In the past 10 years, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans, Kevin Martin, Ron Artest, Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic combined for one 20-point-per-game season upon leaving the Kings. At the very least, Thomas allows Hornacek to keep some combo of Bledsoe, Dragic and Thomas on the floor for the majority of the game, strumming that double-necked point-guard guitar all night long. The fact that Thomas’ per-minute averages have remained steady as both a starter and reserve in his three-year career is an encouraging sign that the Suns will be able to keep making the same sweet music they did last season. Glaring weakness: The Suns don’t quite have a black hole in the middle, but it’s an awful dark mass in the space-time continuum. Plumlee and Len are expected to receive the bulk of those minutes, and that duo (mostly Plumlee, due to the multiple injuries that scuttled Len's rookie season) anchored the NBA’s fourth-worst efficiency differential at the position last season, according to HoopsStats.com (minus-3.8). Plumlee’s minutes plunged throughout 2013-14 as Hornacek got more comfortable playing Markieff Morris and the since-departed Frye in smaller, more offensively potent lineups. As a result, though, Phoenix allowed 42.2 points in the paint per game , also the league’s fourth-worst group. Not even highly regarded defensive assistant coach Mike Longabardi could help the Suns rise above the middle of the pack in points allowed per possession. Plumlee is still their best bet to clog the middle on defense, even if he does the same on offense. Contributor with something to prove: Following his client’s second knee surgery in three years, Bledsoe's agent spent the offseason demanding a max contract for a player who has started all of 78 NBA games. McDonough, who reportedly offered four years and $48 million, entered a summer-long staring contest with Rich Paul, and the two sides met closer to Bledsoe's demands. To say the 24-year-old has something to prove is an understatement. For chunks of last season, Bledsoe replicated what so many projected for Chris Paul's former backup. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound brick of muscle averaged 17.7 points (57.8 TS%), 5.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds while generally tormenting opposing backcourts alongside Dragic in 43 games. That's encouraging for a fourth-year point guard on his rookie contract; now it's expected from an eight-figure-salaried franchise player. Potential breakout stud: Double ankle surgeries stunted Year 1 of The Alex Len Project, presenting a built-in excuse for the No. 5 overall pick’s PER (7.3), true shooting percentage (46.9) and statistical averages over 42 games (two points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.4 blocks in 8.6 minutes per game). Now, double finger fractures — on the same right pinkie, mind you — offer another easy excuse for the 7-foot-1 Ukrainian to start slow out of the gate. Yet Len made huge strides from his freshman to sophomore seasons at Maryland, and the 21-year-old has the potential to take a similar step forward after one year under Hornacek and Longabardi. He added the customary 15 pounds of muscle, and then collected six points, six boards and a pair of blocks before breaking his finger 25 minutes into Summer League. The re-broken finger is a setback for a player in desperate need of preseason practice, but he’ll still start the regular season healthy, and the minutes will be there for him to demonstrate his improvement, especially if he develops a mid-range jumper. Best-case scenario: It won’t be easy for Dragic to repeat his breakout All-NBA season, Green to shoot 3’s at a 40 percent clip again and Tolliver to replace Frye’s 2,312 minutes, but some combo of Bledsoe’s health, the addition of Thomas and the improvements of the Morris twins, Plumlee and/or Len should help the Suns recreate the magic that made them the NBA darlings of 2013-14. Even then, they’ll still be navigating a crowded Western Conference playoff picture that may also include Anthony Davis’ New Orleans Pelicans — all for the right to face the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers or San Antonio Spurs in the first round. Them’s the breaks for a franchise on the rise. If everything falls apart: Even if the science experiment takes a turn for the worse and the Suns just miss the postseason for a second straight year, McDonough will still have a pair of lottery picks at his disposal. Phoenix still owns a top-five protected pick from the Steve Nash trade, so barring a bit of Los Angeles Lakers luck, the worst-case scenario — a couple of mid-round picks — isn’t the worst consolation prize. Unless, of course, the team’s talented young core undergoes an abduction of sorts. Stranger things have happened in the Arizona desert. The Suns are on standing on the edge of an event horizon. Strap in for another weird, wild ride. Kelly Dwyer’s Best Guess at a Record: Phoenix will finish 47-35, eighth in the Western Conference. Read all of Ball Don't Lie's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews (links added as they're published): EASTERN CONFERENCE Atlanta Hawks • Boston Celtics • Brooklyn Nets • Charlotte Hornets • Chicago Bulls • Cleveland Cavaliers • Detroit Pistons • Indiana Pacers • Miami Heat • Milwaukee Bucks • New York Knicks • Orlando Magic • Philadelphia 76ers • Toronto Raptors • Washington Wizards WESTERN CONFERENCE Dallas Mavericks • Denver Nuggets • Golden State Warriors • Houston Rockets • Los Angeles Clippers • Los Angeles Lakers • Memphis Grizzlies • Minnesota Timberwolves • New Orleans Pelicans • Oklahoma City Thunder • Phoenix Suns • Portland Trail Blazers • Sacramento Kings • San Antonio Spurs • Utah Jazz - - - - - - - Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Championship window might be closing for Thunder (Yahoo Sports)

The future looks bright for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka - who have played together for the past five years - certainly have the talent to make a jump. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Los Angeles Clippers (Ball Don't Lie)

So, now it’s on the players. Currently, Clipper fans don’t have to hate themselves, as they probably did at times, for paying to see a team owned by Donald Sterling. NBA fans, as we often did, don’t have to hate ourselves anymore while enjoying those late night, must-watch Clipper broadcasts on League Pass. The players don’t have to cringe anymore when Sterling goes meandering around the locker room. Doc Rivers won’t have to question his own ethics anymore. It’s over. (Shelly Sterling needs to go, to be sure, but it’s over.) What we have left, finally, is ball. Ball run by the league’s best point guard, one of its best coaches, and one of the NBA’s best players. Plays run by a supporting cast that is to be envied. Work run in the toughest conference in NBA history, one the Los Angeles Clippers have as good a chance as any at getting out of this spring, possibly representing the Western Conference in the 2015 NBA Finals. Such an idea was an uneasy prospect for the NBA and its fans for decades, because even though presenting a Conference championship trophy is a relatively new phenomenon, it would still include one Donald T. Sterling at the other end of the handoff. At the next stage, the thought of Sterling at center court, accepting a Lawrence O’Brien trophy alongside Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Doc Rivers was even more nauseating, but this is what the NBA (and the media that covered it, myself included) allowed. Somehow, Sterling was removed from the league and from the Clippers’media guide with relative alacrity, a credit to both the league’s new commissioner, and common sense. New owner Steve Ballmer works with an open checkbook, and while that won’t do much for the 15 on the roster (Sterling actually did compete and pay fair salaries over the last decade or so), it will do wonders for the coaches, employees, scouts, and various other personnel that had to fight for every penny. Fears will be lifted, and the team will be better prepared. Which means, again, that this will be on the players. Contributors like J.J. Redick and Matt Barnes can’t help that they were injured last year, and Rivers couldn’t help his team’s failure to fill that final rotation spot last season, but excuses have to be out the window. Chris Paul’s game figures to age well, but he turns 30 in May. Redick, Jamal Crawford, and Barnes are even older. DeAndre Jordan is in a contract year in anticipation of a summer that will feature scads of teams with maximum cap space. Blake Griffin is very, very good. It has to happen now. The Clippers worked their way into the league’s best offense last season even with again types like Hedo Turkoglu, Antawn Jamison, Stephen Jackson, Sasha Vujacic, and Danny Granger taking up space on the wing. The defense surprisingly held nearly as steady despite the coaching upgrade and influence of Doc Rivers, and Jordan will once again have to turn in a mindful campaign on that end. Griffin needs to continue to surprise offensively, thinking on the fly and not relying on pet moves, and for the second straight season Chris Paul will have to deign to give up the damn ball. Not every score has to come off of one of his assists, or one of his gorgeous floaters or mid-range shots. The trick is that we’re dealing with the Western conference. The Clippers could roar to the top seed, and it wouldn’t (and certainly shouldn’t) be termed an upset if the squad was upended by any number of Western opponents in the second or even first round. The conference is that good, and the quality of play is that high. The only disappointment in last year’s second round ouster at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder was in how the Clippers looked –clearly, they were ready for the season, and the Sterling saga, to end. It understandably drained them. That was also a second round matchup against a higher seed working with the league’s MVP on its side. Such is life in this conference. A conference that the Clippers could make their own, in 2014-15. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Utah's Kanter runs floor in win over Thunder (Yahoo Sports)

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From Yahoo Sports

Durant struggling to deal with injury (Yahoo Sports)

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From Yahoo Sports

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