Podcast: 2014-14 NBA Season Preview

Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day

McNeill and Mark and back with another Hoops Addict Podcast. We break down the big changes in each conference, make some fearless predictions for the upcoming season, talk about Byron Scott ripping on Dwight Howard, Steve Nash not playing this season and the brilliance of LeBron James.

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Stephen Curry: The Perfect Shot

Leading up to the start of the regular season, the Muscle Milk brand produced a two-minute content video telling the story of how Stephen Curry changed his entire shot form in high school to set him apart from taller opponents.  

Curry channels his “I Can Do All Things” mindset in the piece to give you a quick inside look at the practice, process and perseverance that led him to develop the perfect shot.

LeBron James Raves About Steve Nash

“It’s tough. You hate to see anyone have the game be taken away from him because of injury and especially a talent like that. Obviously he’s worked his tail off to try to be healthy and play for that franchise and over his career he’s always kept his body in shape, we all knew that. For his body to fail him at a time where he still feels like he has something to give to the game, I think it sucks. At the same time, he has nothing to be ashamed of. He should be proud of every moment that he had in this league — from him waiting behind and sitting on the bench behind J-Kidd (Jason Kidd) to finally getting his opportunity in Dallas and going back to Phoenix and having an unbelievable career, the two MVPs, and doing the things that he did. You just look at him, you would never (know). If you’re playing street basketball and he’s out on the side, you’re not going to pick him. And then when he finally gets his chance to pick the four guys that he wants to run with, then you’re going to be like, ‘Damn! I should have took that guy. I should have took him.’ And he’s part of that 90-50-40 club (with) a few guys — (Kevin) Durant, (Larry) Bird, Dirk (Nowitzki). Nash, he did it multiple years. I think 4-5 years straight, which is crazy. And never one of the most athletic guys. Always just played with his mind and his agility. So it sucks. It’s always bad when a guy, like I said before, I’ll harp on it again, when your career is kind of shortened because of injury.”

LeBron James raves about Steve Nash

Derrick Rose Introduced His New “D Rose 5 Boost”

On Saturday, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose introduced his new signature shoe, the D Rose 5 Boost to fans in Chicago.

He hosted 20 kids from local nonprofit After School Matters at the adidas store for an intimate Q&A session where he gave advice on how to pursue your dreams,  work hard and stay hungry. Rose gave each fan with their own pair of the D Rose 5 Boost, signed autographs and took photos to commemorate the moment.

Here are some photos of the event.

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Best Beards In Basketball Infographic

A big thanks to the fine folks at Wahl for sending me this fantastic infographic about the best beards in basketball.

One of my favourite stats is that in each of the past eight seasons, the league’s MVP has rocked a beard, in one form or another.

Wahl_NBA_infographic

Podcap: Raptors Beat Celtics 116-109

Here’s audio from DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Lou Williams, Greivis Vasquez and Dwane Casey after Toronto’s 116-109 win over Boston.

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Observations From Toronto Raptors Locker Room

Here are some observations, notes and quotes from the Toronto Raptors locker room after the team beat the Boston Celtics 116-109:

  • Jonas Valanciunas was rocking a Mike Tyson shirt.
  • DeMar DeRozan: “Honestly, I don’t worry about nothing anymore. My confidence is that high. I feel like I can do anything once I’m on the court. I’m not trying to put any limitations on my game when I’m out there on the court.”
  • Bruno Caboclo was showing teammates a video of Leandro Barbosa crossing over an opponent. Terrence Ross couldn’t get enough of the video clip.
  • DeRozan gave Valanciunas some friendly ribbing over his beard.
  • Dwane Casey wasn’t ornery, but he wasn’t happy with the defensive effort from his team. I expect the team to go through a bunch of defensive drills during practice this weekend.
  • Kyle Lowry still has a sign that his son made for him last season hanging in his locker.
  • Greivis Vasquez on the Air Canada Centre: “This is the best atmosphere in the entire NBA.”

Game Notes: Raptors 116 – Celtics 109

Here are some at-the-buzzer observations and analysis from The Gondola about the Raptors’ third preseason game of the year:

  • I thought it was interesting that Boston’s first points were a three-pointer by Brandon Bass and Toronto’s first points were a long two by Amir Johnson.
  • DeRozan oozing confidence. Hit a three-pointer early in first quarter from just to the left of the tip of the arc and nailed another tough three early in the second half. Avery Bradley is noted for being a strong defender but he had problems slowing DeRozan down throughout the game. Even a larger Evan Turner had his share of issues. DeRozan finished with 18 points with relative ease.
  • Boston started game 3-10 from the field and finished the first quarter shooting 42% (8-19) from the field. Throw in five turnovers and it’s the kind of defensive effort which had to make Dwane Casey smile after he blasted his team’s effort on the defensive end against the Sacramento Kings.
  • Raptors went on a 11-5 run when they went small with DeMar DeRozan, Lou Williams and Kyle Lowry at the end of the first quarter. The scoring spark was expected, but a pleasant surprise was seeing how that trio shared and moved the ball among themselves as well as with Patrick Patterson and Tyler Hansbrough.
  • Things fell apart in the second quarter as Toronto allowed Boston to shoot 5-7 from the field to start the quarter. This helped Boston steal the lead back at 37-36. Things didn’t get get better before the half ended as Boston went 12-19 from the field in the second quarter. Avery Bradley was one of the main benefactors for a lethargic defensive effort from Toronto as he went off for 17 points in the second quarter. Ouch.
  • Jonas Valanciunas had six rebounds in his first 10 minutes of playing time. He finished with nine boards in 22 minutes.
  • Kyle Lowry picked up his fifth foul early in the third quarter. Weird considering Lowry rarely found himself in foul trouble. Perhaps he was pressing too much against Boston’s relatively inexperienced point guards.
  • Greivis Vasquez grabbed the opportunity and score 13 points in his first 15 minutes of burn. He finished the game with 13 points in 19 minutes.
  • Terrence Ross has bulked up this season which will help him defend larger wing players. However, James Johnson is an even better option on the defensive end at this point. Casey has a lot more options now than he had against the Nets last year in the playoffs.
  • I loved Kyle Lowry picking Kelly Olynyk’s pocket in the fourth quarter. Despite having five fouls, Lowry went after the steal and it resulted in two easy points for the Raptors. It also gave the team a much-needed bump in energy.
  • Toronto put the clamps on Boston defensively in the fourth quarter. After allowing 93 points through the first three quarters, Toronto held Boston to six points through the first seven minutes of the quarter (a 26-6 run). Boston only scored 16 points in the fourth quarter.

What To Watch For: Raptors vs. Celtics

The Toronto Raptors (1-1) and Boston Celtics (2-0) meet in the second game of the preseason for both teams at Air Canada Centre. Here are five things to watch for:

  • Boston has three Canadian “bigs” on their roster. Kelly Olynyk is hoping to carve out a spot in the rotation where he plays more than the 20 minutes per game he did as a rookie, Joel Anthony is trying to prove he’s still a rotation player in the NBA and Dwight Powell is trying to crack the rotation as a rookie. All three have lots to prove in training camp.
  • Boston’s head coach, Brad Stevens, implored his team to shoot more before their last game and the result was the Celtics scored 106 points while shooting 48% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc. Dwane Casey lit into his team earlier this week for a lack of effort on the defensive end. If Toronto doesn’t show more effort on the defensive end it could get ugly quick at the Air Canada Centre.
  • With Rajon Rondo out of action due to an injury, Boston has had to rely on a rookie combo guard (Marcus Smart), a 5’11” undrafted point guard (Phil Pressey) and a former lottery pick who has played most of his career as a wing (Evan Turner). It will be interesting to see if Toronto’s point guards can exploit this.
  • Landry Fields is penciled in as a probable starter tonight in the Raptors’ Media Notes. Interesting. That may change between now and the 7:30 EST opening tip.
  • Eric Koreen had an article today where the Raptors coaching staff has a goal for Jonas Valanciunas to become one of the elite defensive players in the NBA. Against the Sacramento Kings he got roughed up by DeMarcus Cousins but Valanciunas faces a noticeably weaker frontcourt tonight.