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- DeRozan scores 15, Raptors beat Knicks 83-80 (The Associated Press) October 25, 2014The preseason is over for the Toronto Raptors, and they finished it in style. DeMar DeRozan scored 15 points, Jonas Valanciunas added 13, and Toronto beat the New York Knicks 83-80 on Friday night at the Bell Centre in the final preseason game for both teams. ''The intensity was up,'' said Lou Williams, who had 12 points for Toronto, including a crucial, go-ahead jump shot in the game's final minute. We really felt like this was a tune-up game going into Wednesday against Atlanta.'' The Raptors open the regular season Wednesday night against the Hawks at Air Canada Centre, where Toronto will play nine of its first 12 games.
- BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Sacramento Kings (Ball Don't Lie) October 24, 2014
- Brief profiles of Eastern Conference teams (Reuters) October 24, 2014(Reuters) - Following are brief profiles of the 15 teams in the National Basketball Association's Eastern Conference ahead of the 2014-15 season. ATLANTIC DIVISION BOSTON CELTICS Founded: 1946 NBA titles: 17 (2008, 1986, 1984, 1981, 1976, 1974, 1969, 1968, 1966, 1965, 1964, 1963, 1962, 1961, 1960, 1959, 1957) Head coach: Brad Stevens 2013-14 record: 25-57 (Proud Celtics finish 12th in conference after a run of six seasons in playoffs) Sorry Celtics fans, no playoff for Boston -- again. That's hard to accept for a franchise with 17 titles, but the talent is not there. ...
- Cavs, Bulls the expected frontrunners in East (The Associated Press) October 24, 2014LeBron James is again surrounded by an All-Star caliber guard, a big man who can score and 3-point sharpshooters.
- BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Phoenix Suns (Ball Don't Lie) October 24, 2014The 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 your typical 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: 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 email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach
- 2014/15 Toronto Raptors: Rising Sideways October 24, 2014(Kyle Lowry) It’s that magical time of year in the NBA, when hope springs eternal and all teams think that the upcoming season will be their best ever. While some teams will surely be rising up, the same amount will be rising down, with the rest floating along treading water (rising sideways). Since we at The Hoops Manifesto are always 100% accurate with our predictions, we’ve taken the guesswork out of it for you and will let you know which of these three categories each NBA team falls into this upcoming season. Next up: Toronto Raptors 2013/14: 48-34, lost first round (Brooklyn) Key Additions: Lou Williams (backup shooting guard) James Johnson (backup small forward) Key Losses: John Salmons Vegas Win Total: 49.5 Verdict: Rising sideways Make no mistake about it – the Raptors overachieved last season. Despite this, they still didn’t make it out of the first round. Now everyone seems to be on the bandwagon expecting the team to take the next step this season, but I...
- CelticsLife Atlantic Division Preview: The Toronto Raptors October 24, 20142013/14 Record: 48-34Expected Starting Lineup & SummaryKyle LowryDeMar DerozanTerrence RossAhmir JohnsonJonas ValancuniasThe Toronto Raptors were quietly one of the league's better stories last season. A bunch of good guys (who couldn't wait to tell anyone who would listen how much fun basketball can be when Rudy Gay's not on your team) playing in front of a tremendous fan base that's been starving for competitive basketball for a while now.Though they ended the season on a bit of a down night, losing to the Nets in the first round, the season was a pleasant surprise. Going from a team that was going through a FIRE (!) sale to a team that was able to put all that aside and finish third in the Eastern Conference. Best Dunk of 2013/14Sure, that was there best dunk. But why limit ourselves to just one Terrence Ross dunk?New Faces, New PlacesKey Additions: Lou Williams, Jordan Hamilton, James JohnsonKey Losses: John Salmons, Steve NovakHere in lies the issue with the...
- Can A Tough And Professional Will Cherry Make The Raptors? October 24, 2014Toronto Raptors very vocal leader and backup point guard Greivis Vasquez knows what rookie guard Will Cherry is going through and brings his own unique perspective to the situation.
- Can A Rejuvenated Jordan Hamilton Make The Raptors? October 23, 2014Jordan Hamilton was out of a job this summer, so he took a hard look at himself and decided he needed to do something about it. The Toronto Raptors invited him to training camp to compete for a spot on the roster and a rejuvenated Hamilton has looked pretty good in preseason games.
- Raptors Increase Security After Ottawa Shootings October 23, 2014The Toronto Raptors will have extra security in place for Wednesday night’s preseason game after the Parliament Hill shootings in Ottawa. The team is encouraging fans to arrive early for the Raptors’ game against Maccabi Haifa so they have enough time to clear security at Air Canada Centre. A Canadian Forces soldier at the National War Memorial was killed Wednesday morning by a masked gunman, who then moved up the street to launch an attack on nearby Parliament Hill, in which at least two people were injured. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, who owns the Raptors, says it will be working with Toronto police to implement the extra security. [Toronto Raptors] The post Raptors Increase Security After Ottawa Shootings appeared first on Geeks & Cleats.
- Raptors Edge Knicks October 25, 2014DeMar DeRozan scored 15 points and the Toronto Raptors beat Knicks, 83-80, in Montreal in the final preseason game for both teams.
- Back at the Garden, a Different Knicks Team Is in Search of Chemistry October 14, 2014The Knicks lost an exhibition game to the Raptors, but Coach Derek Fisher said wins and losses were not the focus of the preseason.
- Lowry Will Be Back With the Raptors July 3, 2014Point guard Kyle Lowry will re-sign with the Toronto Raptors, his agent confirmed.
- Nets Move On With a Swat at the Buzzer May 5, 2014Bounced from the first round a year ago, the Nets earned a measure of redemption as Joe Johnson scored 26 points and Paul Pierce blocked Toronto’s final shot.
- Nets’ Fate May Rest With Backcourt May 4, 2014Game 7 of the Nets-Raptors series could be decided on how well each backcourt plays and how much life is left in the legs of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.