Tweet of the Day: Players React to Selection of All-Star Reserves

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2014 NBA All-Star Game LogoFinally.

After much anticipation, and to some chagrin, the NBA’s coaches have submitted their list of reserves for the forthcoming 2014 NBA All-Star game in New Orleans, LA.

Many of the All-Star reserve selections are expected, though there were a few selections (and snubs) that were unconventional, though deserving.

In the Eastern Conference, Chris Bosh [Miami Heat], DeMar DeRozan [Toronto Raptors], Paul Millsap [Atlanta Hawks], John Wall [Washington Wizards], Joe Johnson [Brooklyn Nets], Roy Hibbert [Indiana Pacers] and Joakim Noah [Chicago Bulls] all join the team as reserves.

Out west, Dirk Nowitzki [Dallas Mavericks], LaMarcus Aldridge [Portland Trail Blazers], James Harden [Houston Rockets], Dwight Howard [Houston], Damian Lillard [Portland], Tony Parker [San Antonio Spurs] and Chris Paul [Los Angeles Clippers] are all joining the Western Conference roster.

This year marks the first time Millsap, DeRozan, Wall and Lillard have been selected to the NBA All-Star game in their respective careers.

With the announcement of the All-Star Reserves Thursday evening, many players took to Twitter to voice their appreciation, congratulations and displeasure with the selections.

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Acker: 10 Reasons Why The Blazers Are For Real

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Raise your hand if you had the Portland Trail Blazers leading the Western Conference. LaMarcus_Aldridge2

OK, now put your hand down and stop lying.

The Trail Blazers are 16-3. After a disappointing loss in Phoenix that ended a double-digit winning streak, Portland is 3-0 in December, including back-to-back home victories over the Indiana Pacers and the Oklahoma City Thunder, two of the best teams in the NBA.

There are two things every NBA fan wants to know right now. First, is this Blazers team for real? And second, how are they doing what they’re doing?

The answer to the first question is yes, this Blazers team is definitely for real. Does for real mean they will win 50 games or make the Western Conference finals? It’s too early to tell. But it does mean that their record is no fluke.

As for how the Blazers are doing what they’re doing, there are plenty of reasons. Here are just a few:

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Bernucca: With fundamentals, Spurs making NBA look like AAU

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We are all familiar with the Spurs and their uncanny efficiency. Are you familiar with AAU basketball? benched spurs

I have coached it at the high school level for the last three years. And one thing I have learned is that with just four hours of weekly practice time followed by four games every weekend, if you don’t have definitive, well-drilled schemes on both offense and defense, you have no chance to compete.

However, if you have a group that is committed to a specific style of play on both ends of the floor, you can consistently compete with, and even beat teams that are bigger, stronger, quicker and more talented than yours.

Gregg Popovich has the San Antonio Spurs committed to a system. At its roots, that system is grounded in the fundamentals that are preached – and often ignored – at every level of basketball, from AAU to NBA. On defense, pressure the ballhandler to make things difficult. Commit to playing defense as individuals and as a team. Box out and don’t allow second shots.

On offense, get the ball quickly upcourt and look for early offense. In the halfcourt, set solid picks and make hard cuts. Trust your scheme and your teammates. Give up a good shot to get a great shot.

These are the basics of the game. And right now, with these basics as their foundation, Popovich and the Spurs are making the NBA look like an AAU tournament.

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Preseason Playoff Picture: Western Conference

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Dirk NowitzkiIn a teleconference last week, we asked NBA analysts Chris Webber and Greg Anthony to pick a Western Conference team which missed the playoffs last season but will make the playoffs this season.

“Dallas, mainly because of Dirk Nowitzki,” Webber said. “He’ll be back healthy. What he does, with spacing, getting guys involved … We take his game for granted.”

“I would go with the Pelicans,” Anthony said. “I think that’s a team that could make sizeable leaps and surprise a lot of people.”

Both those teams are certainly among the half-dozen in the hunt for what appears to be two postseason spots up for grabs in the West. Those spots belonged to the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets, who also remain in the running despite taking some backward steps in the offseason.

Without getting into seeding specifics, the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets look like mortal locks to be playing in May.

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Tweet of the Day: Troy Polamalu’s Charity May Upset Dorell Wright’s Son

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When news hit that Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu pledged to cut as much as 10 inches of his hair for a noteworthy charity, Portland Trail Blazers forward Dorell Wright took notice.

His son, Devin—as pictured in his tweet, seems to favor Polamalu (and his hair).