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NBA AM: New Champion Crowned In The East?
Posted By Lang Greene On October 25, 2013 @ 9:48 am In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Houston Rockets forward/center Greg Smith gives an update on the team’s progress through the preseason and gives his unique perspective on just how much Dwight Howard is changing things in Houston.Watch More Video Here
Championship Or Bust Expectations In Indiana This Season?
The Indiana Pacers are one of the select few teams in the league who enter the 2013-14 campaign with legitimate title aspirations. The Pacers are coming off a season in which they finished 49-32 and fell just one win short of reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since the 2000 campaign.
It is clear to anyone who talks to a player from this unit that hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the season is the ultimate objective for Indiana.
“To get to the next step is our goal,” Pacers starting point guard George Hill told HOOPSWORLD. “The end of last year we were one step away. So we’ve come back in better shape and everyone has come back a better player than what they were last year. The way guys have chiseled down their bodies, picked up weight or worked on certain things with their game I think as a unit everyone came back with a solid mindset. It may not tell you in preseason, but preseason is a whole different ballgame when it comes to wins and losses. I think we have a special group here.”
The Pacers have pushed the two-time defending champion Miami HEAT to the brink of elimination in consecutive seasons, but Hill maintains the club’s goal is not only set on knocking off the champions, but securing the franchise’s first title since 1973 (ABA).
“Our goal is to always win a championship,” Hill said. “I think that’s the goal you always need to have coming into camp. I’m not just saying it. I really feel deep down inside that this group is something special. We have a lot of talent. We have guys who can play on both sides of the floor and you don’t normally see that on teams. Almost a whole team who can play on both ends individually. I tip my hat to this team. I’m just ready to get this season started.”
Part of Hill’s optimism revolves around the additions the team made during the offseason. The club signed veteran forward Luis Scola and reserve guard C.J. Watson in free agency. Both players have been known throughout their careers as solid locker room guys but most importantly, productive members of a team’s rotation.
“Phenomenal,” Hill said regarding the additions. “Luis Scola can be a starter anywhere. He has proven himself, not just in the NBA but in international play also. So bringing in a great leader like him and a great guy who has been around some really good teams like C.J. Watson who is a great backup point guard is something that you don’t normally get on a team. I’m happy with what we brought in and I think once everyone gets settled on what their role is and how they can be effective for this team, I think we should be okay.”
The Pacers have struggled throughout the preseason and will likely start the campaign without former All-Star forward Danny Granger in the rotation, but come season’s end the squad should be among the Eastern Conference’s elite.
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Kobe Bryant Talks Return To Court, Motivation
The Los Angeles Lakers have reached the playoffs the past eight seasons, winning two championships during the current run. However, if the Lakers are to extend their postseason streak in 2014 the franchise will need the health of All-Star guard Kobe Bryant to round into form.
Bryant is recovering from a torn left Achilles suffered toward the end of the 2013 campaign and his return to action is still up in the air. Bryant says the constant skepticism on his potential effectiveness upon his return is being used as motivation during his rehabilitation – especially being ranked No. 25 in ESPN’s player rankings.
“It can get to you a little bit and it will make you a little impatient, especially when you hear the doubt and, ‘Will I be able to come back?’” Bryant said according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “Well, it’s not even, ‘Will I be able to come back and play well?’ It’s more like, ‘I won’t be able to come back and play well.’ And when you hear those things, you want to push and come back and play right away to shut a lot of people up, but you have to be patient, you have to rest and relax and come back when you’re ready.
“I certainly don’t [need any more motivation]. The motivation’s always been there for me because it’s always come from inside of me, the motivation. The external stuff is kind of like the cherry on top of the cake. The way I looked at it, it’s pretty silly to me. Twenty-five was pretty silly. It was pretty laughable. But still in all, it’s a challenge that I willingly accept.”
Bryant currently ranks fourth on the all-time NBA scoring list with 31,617 points, which is just 675 points shy of Hall of Fame guard Michael Jordan who ranks third.
Dr. Travis Heath, a professional psychologist and former NBA scout, recently handed out advice for some of the NBA’s worst teams. Click here to see what he prescribed for teams poised to occupy the league’s cellar this upcoming season!
LeBron James Remains Mum On Free Agency Plans
The 2014 NBA free agent class could be bolstered by the presence of four-time league MVP and two-time titlist LeBron James. The forward can opt out of his current deal next summer and test the free agency waters.
However, James is playing it cool when asked about any potential free agency plans, preferring to keep his thoughts close to the vest this time around.
“When that bridge comes, I’ll cross it with my family,” James said according to Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald. “And we’re going to make the right choice. We’ve been in this position before, I’ve been in this position before, and I’ll be excited about it, but we’ll see what happens.
“Winning, that’s my only concern right now, winning. I want to put a third ring on the guys that have two. I want to put a first ring on the guys that don’t have any and I want to put a fourth on [Udonis Haslem] and D-Wade. So, that’s my goal.”
James is owed roughly $61.8 million over the next three seasons should he decide not to opt out of his current deal.
The start of the college basketball season is right around the corner! This season the NCAA will feature one of the most intriguing potential draft classes since John Wall and Paul George were still in college. Click here to read in-depth profiles on the top 40 prospects for the 2014 NBA Draft!
Magic guard Ronnie Price talks about free agency, choosing the Orlando Magic and playing for Jacque Vaughn.
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