Sprung: What Has Gone Right and Wrong for Eastern Conference Contenders

NBA-Eastern-Conference

For the first time in roughly two decades, the Eastern Conference is better than the Western Conference from top to bottom. Nine East teams are at .500 or better – nearly twice as many teams as last season, when sixth-seeded Milwaukee finished 41-41. And the East actually has a winning record against the West this season at 100-98 What changed so quickly from last season, when articles were written about how there was the greatest disparity in conference strength in recent memory? “I

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Five Things To Watch: Toronto Raptors

Raptors claw

There is no way to sum up the 2014-15 season for the Toronto Raptors without including the word disappointment. You can debate the extent of it, of course – the team did win a franchise-record 49 games and saw point guard Kyle Lowry start in the All-Star Game – but the basic conclusion remains the same. Touted as a new power in the Eastern Conference, the Raptors exploded into last season borne on a wave of “We the North” expectation. This

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How the Raptors recruited DeMarre Carroll

DeMarre-Carroll

LAS VEGAS– In a free agency period where LaMarcus Aldridge took what seemed like two dozen meetings and DeAndre Jordan’s recruiting process turned into the most bizarre sequences in years, the Toronto Raptors lured prized wing DeMarre Carroll away from the Atlanta Hawks before he left to meet with anyone else. So how did they do it? Well, $60 million over four years certainly helped. But it was more than that. SheridanHoops conducted one-on-one interviews with Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri, coach Dwane

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SH Blog: Love’s season-ending injury puts East playoffs, free agency in chaos; Lakers may be cooling on Rondo

Kevin Love Cavaliers

Kevin Love’s left labrum has torn away from the bone and needs at least 4-to-6 weeks to heal, reports Bleacher Report‘s Howard Beck. As a result, there’s “virtually zero chance” that Love plays again this postseason, even if the Cavaliers make the Finals. Moreover, if the labrum tear doesn’t heal on its own, offseason surgery is a possibility as well, according to Beck’s sources. “I want to make it clear that’s highly unlikely,” Cavs general manager David Griffin said, in comments transcribed

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Bernucca: Handing Out My Midseason Awards

James Harden

One of the biggest knocks against the NBA is that when the season starts, there are only five or six teams that can truly win the championship, making the regular season and the early playoff rounds interminably tedious. Not this season. As we reach the midway point – 18 teams have played at least 41 games, another nine have played 40 – there are no less than a dozen teams with legitimate title aspirations, including a handful that haven’t been in the

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SH Blog: With tanking en vogue, Knicks encourage Anthony to rest knee

Carmelo Anthony postgame

The Philadelphia 76ers aren’t even the best tankers in their own division these days. After the Sixers boosted their record to 5-28 with a win over the Cavs, the worst team in the Atlantic — and the entire NBA, for that matter — is undoubtedly the 5-32 New York Knicks. The Knicks have now lost 12 straight, and dealt away both Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday in a deal aimed solely at cap relief (Smith has

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Sprung: Kyle Lowry is the Early Eastern Conference MVP

Kyle Lowry

The Eastern Conference’s leader in Win Shares signed a highly publicized free agent contract this past offseason with the East’s best team. That player is not LeBron James but Kyle Lowry, the undisputed leader of the Toronto Raptors. And it is Toronto – not Cleveland – which has the East’s best record at 18-6. Lowry and the Raptors are 5-3 without All-Star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, who injured his groin the day after Thanksgiving in a loss to Dallas. SheridanHoops went one-on-one with Raptors

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Raptors Adjusting Well, Analytically, to Life without DeRozan

DeMarDeRozanSH1

Beasts of the East we can call them. And no, unlike what was projected in the preseason, we are not talking about the Bulls or Cavaliers. The Toronto Raptors (16-6) have been one of the more interesting teams to follow this season. Their place atop the Eastern Conference standings and the sixth-best record in the NBA is made all the more impressive by the fact that in a league where the best teams usually have at least one superstar, generally a multi-time All-Star, this

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