Five Things to Watch: Philadelphia 76ers

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In a perfect world, the Philadelphia 76ers would flip a switch and have the calendar turn to 2016 or beyond. By then presumably all their wounded would not only be walking, but running at full speed. Dario Saric, the Croatian sensation, would be ready to show the NBA what made him such a hot draft commodity. Some of those other “assets’’ general manager Sam Hinkie has acquired since arriving in 2013 would have proven their value, justifying the moves that brought them

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Five Things To Watch: Miami Heat

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The Miami Heat had an offseason that gave fans numerous swings of emotion. The best player in the league, LeBron James, left for Cleveland as a free agent. But that same week, Chris Bosh turned down an offer to join James Harden and Dwight Howard in Houston and agreed to sign a maximum-level contract with the Heat. Pat Riley then quickly assembled a new team with several new players – Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts, Danny Granger and Shannon Brown, just

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Five Things To Watch: Cleveland Cavaliers

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Nice how things change so drastically and so quickly in the NBA. In the season preview that I wrote about the Cleveland Cavaliers one year ago, the five things to watch included Andrew Bynum, Anthony Bennett and Mike Brown’s defensive schemes. Obviously, things have changed dramatically as the Cavs head into the 2014-15 season. With a mere 952 words in Sports Illustrated back in July after Chris Sheridan broke the story two days earlier, LeBron James single-handedly changed the direction – and

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Five Things To Watch: Detroit Pistons

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The Detroit Pistons are in another rebuilding phase, with longtime president Joe Dumars out and Stan Van Gundy taking over both as chief executive and coach. He inherits a roster that remains largely intact, with the addition of some much needed 3-point shooting. Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe are all back. Jennings and Smith are either untradeable or Van Gundy isn’t interested in selling low, while Monroe took the somewhat unprecedented step of spurning long-term contract offers

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Five Things To Watch: Toronto Raptors

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When the final buzzer sounded on the Toronto Raptors last season, the team was left deflated on its home court after a crushing last-second Game 7 loss. It was an ending to a season that no one – not pundits, not fans, maybe not even management – could have predicted. After 18 games and a 6-12 record, it appeared as though the Raptors were destined for yet another forgettable season, lodged firmly in the bottom third of the NBA. Instead, after

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Five Things To Watch: Oklahoma City Thunder

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Coming into the 2014-15 season, the Oklahoma City Thunder figure to continue to be one of the league’s true title contenders. What’s different? A big free agent signing, the continued development of young talent, and finally a change in the starting lineup. Should everything work out, this could be the strongest Thunder team ever. Hovering over this potential perfect storm is a world of doubt. The Thunder have remained contenders for three or four years now but still have little hardware

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Five Things To Watch: Minnesota Timberwolves

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Seven years ago, the Minnesota Timberwolves traded their prized power forward (Kevin Garnett) across conferences to the Boston Celtics. This Eastern Conference squad had made headlines a few weeks earlier, acquiring a superstar wing (Ray Allen) to accompany the team’s lone All-Star (Paul Pierce). This summer, the Timberwolves traded their prized power forward (Kevin Love) across conferences to the Cleveland Cavaliers. This Eastern Conference squad had made headlines a few weeks earlier, acquiring a superstar wing (LeBron James) to accompany the

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Five Things To Watch: Los Angeles Clippers

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Talk about a fresh start … When the freshness starts in the ownership suite — or his courtside seat, as may be the case here, it is truly a new beginning. After a determined and gutty yet ultimately unsuccessful run in the 2014 postseason, the Los Angeles Clippers entered the offseason with a ton of questions regarding the future of their franchise. Although the Donald Sterling story died down a bit nationally a week or so after the initial TMZ audiotapes were released in

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