Bernucca: Skiles Working His Defensive Magic in Orlando

Magic pregame huddle

As an NBA coach, Scott Skiles has always had a definitive modus operandi. In his three previous jobs, Skiles has dramatically improved his team’s defense, in some cases taking it from near the bottom of the league to near the top. That improvement helps the team become an absolute pain in the neck to play and make a quantum leap from the lottery to the playoffs. Then at some point, Skiles and his hypercompetitive nature become a bit overbearing for some players,

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Five Things To Watch: Oklahoma City Thunder

kevin-durant-signs-with-roc-nation-sports-1

One couldn’t have imagined a worse outcome for the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2014-15 season. A massive plague of injuries kept the team below full strength for the entire campaign. Specifically, Kevin Durant missed 55 games, Serge Ibaka missed 18 games and Russell Westbrook missed 15 games. The other four rotation players who started and finished the season with OKC – Anthony Morrow, Steven Adams, Andre Roberson and Nick Collison – missed between eight and 16 games each. All those missed

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Heisler: Trade deadline widens gap between best, worst teams

dragic

Why is the trade deadline different from all other nights of the year? It’s not. The West just got tougher. In the East, where there’s no life-or-death importance attached to getting better, the top teams sat this one out while the bad teams—your Knicks and 76ers—dumped, shut down or otherwise disposed of their best players in order to tank more definitively. [Read more…]

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Bernucca: “Soft” Wizards Staggering Toward All-Star Break

paulwall

After the Washington Wizards ended a season-high five-game losing streak Saturday with a 37-point victory over the Brooklyn Nets, Marcin Gortat wasn’t quite ready to declare that their earth was back on its axis. “At the end of the day, it was Brooklyn, so we can’t get really excited,” he said. There’s nothing like perspective. And Gortat is right: One win against a plodding, tired team is nothing to get excited about. What the Wizards should be is concerned. Prior to the win

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Fantasy Spin: Three DFS Start Times On Busy Sunday

Nikola Vucevic

What a Saturday night. The completely unexpected —and courageous — return of LaMarcus Aldridge (torn thumb ligament) was a success, but the plague of NBA injuries continues. Playing the best basketball of his promising career over the last month, Brandon Jennings will have an MRI on a possible torn Achilles tendon and could be lost for the season. [Read more…]

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Bernucca: Knicks, Pistons Aren’t Tanking, But Sure Look Like It

Stan Van Gundy with hands

We all know what the Philadelphia 76ers are doing. Call it whatever you want – tanking, rebuilding, deconstructing, hoarding – the 76ers are openly, unabashedly and intentionally sinking to the bottom of the NBA, because GM Sam Hinkie has convinced ownership that is the fastest way to get back to the top. Hinkie has constructed a roster that is inherently non-competitive. The Sixers have the fewest first-round picks and the most undrafted free agents of any team. Their highest-paid player makes $6.6

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Five Things To Watch: Detroit Pistons

Stan Van Gundy with hands

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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