Five Things To Watch: Boston Celtics

brandon-bass

In all their years in the NBA, the Boston Celtics had only put together six seasons worse than the one they muddled through in 2013-14.  The shattered remains of their former glory were cobbled into a team built to lose games and win ping pong balls in a draft allegedly top-heavy with potential franchise players. But 25 wins and the sixth pick later, the Celtics are setting forth on the slow journey upward.Their coach, Brad Stevens, having suffered through the

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Five Things to Watch: Chicago Bulls

Bulls jersey sleeves

For the first time in years, the Chicago Bulls entered the offseason with salary cap flexibility and great expectations in the free agent market. But they finished second in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, whiffed on Kevin Love and settled for veteran Pau Gasol as a consolation prize. However, if this team has the look of the same old Bulls, that may not be all bad. Derrick Rose returns from what amounts to a two-year layoff, and if the former MVP can

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Five Things to Watch: Atlanta Hawks

Hawks core for 2014

When the Atlanta Hawks hired Danny Ferry as general manager in the summer of 2012, one of the first things he impressed upon the organization was the importance of patience. The Hawks promptly traded Joe Johnson for replacement-level flotsam to keep their payroll flexible and patiently waited for Josh Smith’s contract to expire to determine where their newfound wealth would be allocated. With the exceptions of signing Paul Millsap to a two-year, $19 million deal and re-signing Jeff Teague for four years

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Five Things To Watch: Washington Wizards

Nene

It’s been a long, long time since the Washington Wizards were expected to be a top team in the Eastern Conference. But after defeating the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the 2014 NBA playoffs for their first postseason series win in nine years, the Wizards are entering a season with high expectations. How high? Well, there is some talk that after last season’s 44-38 mark, the Wizards could win 50 games – which they haven’t done since the 1978-79 season. Here

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Five Things To Watch: Orlando Magic

Orlando Magic players

Despite the Orlando Magic becoming a better and deeper squad this offseason, a playoff push in the 2014-15 campaign still seems a step too far, even in the weaker Eastern Conference. GM Rob Hennigan has done a good job of moving on from Dwight Howard, creating a manageable payroll and rebuilding the Magic with young, exciting and athletic players. Orlando has 10 players on their rookie contracts, several of whom have already established themselves as legitimate NBA players. For now, those players

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Five Things To Watch: Indiana Pacers

Larry Bird

Although the departure of Lance Stephenson has been seen as a crucial loss for the Indiana Pacers, the team was prepared to move forward without him. Was the five-year, $44 million deal scoffed at by Stephenson more of a calculated play by Larry Bird and the front office than an irreversible blunder? The takeaway from Stephenson’s departure was the team believing, to a certain degree, that Lance was a bigger factor in Indiana’s dysfunctional quasi-collapse following last season’s All-Star break than Paul

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Five Things To Watch: Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets

Coming off the first playoff appearance since 2010 and turning the page on some miserable years, Charlotte now has new hope — and a new old nickname. The Charlotte Hornets have rediscovered their sting and are for real.  Guided a year ago by first-year coach Steve Clifford, Charlotte restructured its entire defensive system, and along with star big man Al Jefferson saw its win total spike from 21 all the way to 43. According to analyst David Locke, the Hornets shaved off

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Eisenberg: With Management Mess, Hawks Look For Stability on Court

NBA: Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks

Before Bruce Levenson’s infamous email and Danny Ferry’s infamous scouting recital, the Atlanta Hawks were actually one of the quietest teams in the NBA this offseason. In the face of one of the most active transaction cycles in NBA history, Atlanta’s limited action in free agency was by design. General sentiment within the organization was – and remains – that the team will take an important leap forward as long as they remain healthy. After all, before center Al Horford tore his right pectoral –

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