NBA Media Day 2014: Live Updates, Photos, Highlights from Monday’s Events

After the Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs were introduced to the media Friday, the NBA‘s other 25 franchises will kick off their preseasons Monday. 

Things get started at 10:30 a.m. ET with the Charlotte Hornets, followed by the Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers and Washington Wizards at 11:00 a.m. ET.

A complete list of start times can be found here

Keep it locked on Bleacher Report throughout the day for highlights, photos and more from the festivities across the Association as training camps get underway. 

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Spurs sticking to ‘live in the moment’ philosophy (Yahoo Sports)

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Gregg Popovich has a ”live in the moment” philosophy.

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NBA Media Day 2014: Live Updates, Photos, Highlights from Friday’s Events

NBA media days are finally upon us. 

And on Friday, clubs participating in the league’s slate of global preseason gamesthe Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Sacramento Kings and reigning champion San Antonio Spurswill meet the media. 

Times are as follows: 

Brooklyn Nets: 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET

Cleveland Cavaliers: 12:15-3:30 p.m. ET

Miami Heat: TBA

Sacramento Kings: 5:00-8:00 p.m. ET

San Antonio Spurs: 12:00-2:00 p.m. ET

As the festivities tip off, keep it locked here on Bleacher Report throughout the day for the latest updates, highlights, photos and more as teams roll out new looks and revamped rosters. 

NBA TV will also cover media days live starting at 1 p.m. ET. 

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Miami Heat Have No Choice but to Live and Die with Small-Ball Blueprint

In the wake of LeBron James’ devastating departure, the Miami Heat had little choice but to retain Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade—to guarantee Erik Spoelstra’s “pace-and-space” philosophy remained as close to intact as possible.

Ironically, Miami’s subsequent free-agent moves may have made Spoelstra’s small-ball system, rather than his stars, the team’s most indispensable commodity.

With the NBA moving evermore steadily toward a overwhelmingly perimeter orientation, the Heat’s offseason was as much about internal continuity as it was heeding the league’s prevailing strategy.

In a recent column, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel underscored precisely this point:

If Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts are your starting power players, and with Pat Riley already talking about Granger getting time in the power rotation, that again appears to be the direction.

And it’s not as if there is much of a Plan B, with Chris Andersen at an age where limited minutes are the preferred approach, and with Udonis Haslem having been marginalized in recent seasons.

Of course small ball is mostly an approach on one side of the ball. The reality is the Heat will face legitimate challenges against legitimate beef, be it Joakim Noah, Al Jefferson, Brook Lopez, Andre Drummond or Roy Hibbert in the East. As was the case previously, there are no easy answers there.

Between the patchwork frontcourt and the loss of James’ peerless playmaking, the Heat have no choice but to live and die by Spoelstra’s “pace-and-space” approach, first adopted after an impromptu visit with former University of Oregon head football and current Philadelphia Eagles skipper Chip Kelly.

As ESPN.com’s Tom Haberstroh writes, Spoelstra was enamored by the idea of turning a “collection of world-class athletes into a merciless scoring machine.”

Hyperbolic though that might sound, the results weren’t that far off, with the Heat finishing in the top six in overall offensive efficiency in each of the last three seasons.

James’ departure is all but certain to derail Miami’s status as one of the NBA’s most punishingly potent attacks. But that doesn’t mean the Heat can’t catch the Eastern Conference by surprise.

Indeed, one of the more underrated stories of this summer’s free-agency period was how Pat Riley—doubtless jaded over losing the game’s principal chess piece—managed to cobble together a more-than-passable board formation.

Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts? These are far from NBA also-rans.

Danny Granger, Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem: a trio of eminently serviceable veterans, even if their best days are behind them.

Shabazz Napier and Khem Birch? A pair of rookies with enough palpable promise to instill within Heat fans hope for what’s to come.

Most of them fit—in theory, anyway—Spoelstra’s pace-and-space mold, albeit to varying degrees. In Deng, you have a more-than-passable LeBron analog, while McRoberts offers a better, more versatile version of Rashard Lewis. Granger gives you a classic stretch 4. Napier, meanwhile, is Norris Cole with the potential for something more.

More importantly, the man tasked with running Spoelstra’s show—the always polarizing Mario Chalmers—seems more determined than anyone to prove Miami’s offensive success was more about gestalt than any single god of the hardwood:

“I feel like I’ve finally got a chance to shine, show my real game,” Chalmers recently told Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick. “Me, CB, D-Wade and the rest of the guys, we’re going to pick it up, we’re still going to play Miami Heat basketball, and we’re still gonna be a competitor.”

Playing in a historically weak Eastern Conference will only help Miami’s cause. Beyond the Chicago Bulls and James’ Cleveland Cavaliers, the East remains very much a hodgepodge of hopeful upstarts and tenuous talents. What few teams can claim to have, however, is a skipper of Spoelstra’s cut and caliber.

And while the 43-year-old coach seems committed to transposing his offensive template on this year’s jarringly disparate talent, the other side of the ball could find Spoelstra scaling back his traditionally cavalier approach. From AllUCanHeat.com’s Wes Goldberg:

The last thing you will see change is the ‘gambling’ the Heat official talked about. Heat players were trained to jump passing lanes and try to get out in fearsome transition. Without James, now, the Heat won’t be as inclined to get on the fast break.

That Miami’s defense was so often the catalyst for its offense is, of course, a conundrum worth considering. Forced to rely more on wile and patience than opportunistic lane hawking, Spoelstra and Co. are almost certain to see fewer possessions at the other end of the floor.

So while the “space” in Spoelstra’s system should remain the offensive mantra, Miami’s more conservative approach on defense might result in a somewhat slower overall pace.

This will be nothing new for players like McRoberts and Deng, embedded as they’ve been the past few years with some of the East’s slowest teams (McRobertsCharlotte Hornets finished 21st in the league in pace last season, while Deng’s former team, the Chicago Bulls, have consistently ranked at or near the bottom in that category).

Similarly, you’d be hard pressed to find a duo more suited to multiple styles than Bosh and Wade, who both labored under similarly deliberate systems before joining forces with James in Miami four years ago.

As with any team undergoing a monumental roster overhaul, the Heat are bound to endure their fair share of growing pains. Whether their on-the-job-learning proves fruitful or fitful depends heavily on Spoelstra’s ability to recognize what system specifics are worth salvaging and which must be tossed by the wayside.

Still, the stratagems Spoelstra nurtured over the past three years have undoubtedly proven a strategic sword worth living by. Even if losing the player who wielded it best means possibly dying by it as well.

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USA vs. Serbia: Live Score, Highlights for 2014 FIBA World Cup Championship Game

After two weeks of play, the field for the 2014 FIBA World Cup has been narrowed down to Serbia and Team USA for the title game Sunday in Madrid, Spain.

The Americans have coasted to this point, as they’re undefeated and the smallest margin of victory was 21 points against Turkey.

Serbia may be the toughest test yet, thanks in large part to Milos Teodosic.

The 6’5″ Serbian guard is averaging 14 points during the tournament, but he’s been especially dangerous lately, averaging 23.5 points in his team’s last two games.

U.S. guards Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry and James Harden have never been known for their defense, so reserve Klay Thompson could have a bigger role. The three-and-D specialist should have a better shot at slowing Teodosic down than any other American.

 

Tipoff3 p.m. ET

Coverage: ESPN2

 

Keys to the Game

Serbia will need a miracle, maybe even a few miracles, to upset the heavily favored Team USA. The Serbians will have to try to slow the pace way down, pack the paint, hope USA goes cold from the outside and get a huge game from Teodosic.

On the other end, the Americans have done their best work in this tournament during second halves, when their opponents wear down and fast-break opportunities are more readily available.

If they work the ball inside to their more athletic bigs, Kenneth Faried and Anthony Davis, early, they could get to that point sooner.

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USA vs. Serbia: TV Info, Live Stream and Preview for 2014 FIBA Championship

One game remains in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, as the United States and Serbia will battle for a gold medal.

Team USA has dominated the competition to this point, winning all eight of its games by at least 20 points. With a roster full of NBA All-Stars and other top players in the league, there is no questioning the talent on the squad.

On the other hand, Serbia had a much tougher path to the final. The team went just 2-3 in the group stage to barely earn a spot in the knockout round. Things turned around from there, though, as wins over Greece, Brazil and France show the team just keeps getting better.

While defeating the U.S. will be a tough task, we should have learned by now not to count out this quality group. This is certain to be an exciting matchup, so take a look at this guide to keep you informed with everything you need to know. 

 

When: Sunday, Sept. 14

Time: 3 p.m. ET

Where: Madrid, Spain

Watch: ESPN2

Live Stream: ESPN3

 

Key Player for Serbia: Miroslav Raduljica

While Miroslav Raduljica is not the team’s leading scorer, he might be the most important player on the floor in this game.

The U.S. has gotten by with its size and athleticism in the low post, getting plenty of second-chance points and other easy buckets in the paint. The 7-foot Serbian star has to be able to keep the ball away from Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried and others.

Raduljica spent last season with the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 3.8 points in 9.7 minutes per game. He has fared much better in this tournament, averaging 13.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. He has reached double figures each time out as a quality inside presence for Serbia.

The key for him is to use his size to contribute more on the boards. He has to not only score but also give his team second opportunities on offense, as well as limiting opposing possessions to one shot.

If he can pick up his defensive efforts, Serbia will be in good shape.

 

Key Player for USA: Kyrie Irving

On a team full of talented players, you need someone who can help get the most out of everyone. 

Kyrie Irving has done a good job at point guard, making plays for himself while also spreading the ball around to everyone on the floor.

He spoke earlier in the tournament about becoming something of a leader on the court, via ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:

There’s no one main leader on this team.

I just try to bring the confidence that I have in myself to this team that we’re the best in the world. We have respect for all the other countries and what they do, but…we have the best players in the world playing for our team [and now] we just have to go out and prove it every night.

Irving is averaging 10.8 points and 3.5 assists per game and is coming off arguably his best performance with 18 points against Lithuania.

Still, it is not the points that the U.S. needs. Irving has to figure out ways to create ball movement in the offense and make sure the squad can keep scoring as well as it has to this point.

 

Prediction

Serbia has showcased a lot of balance offensively with Milos Teodosic doing a great job creating plays at point guard. With Raduljica and Nemanja Bjelica scoring down low and Bogdan Bogdanovic shooting well from the outside, this team can score with anyone.

John Schuhmann of NBA.com notes how well the offense has played in recent games:

However, the U.S. is simply too good to beat. Every player who comes on the floor is an elite talent who can create his own shot and score with incredible efficiency.

Davis and Faried have also been forces down low and should be able to keep dominating the boards.

Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press even provided his own recap before the Sunday tipoff:

Expect the contest to be close in the early going as both teams bring their best effort. The problem is Team USA plays too fast and has too much depth for Serbia to stick around in the game. 

The Americans should be able to pull away late in this one and secure the gold medal.

Predicted Score: USA 91, Serbia 72

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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France vs. Lithuania: Live Score, Highlights for FIBA World Cup 3rd-Place Game

After losing to USA and Serbia in their respective semifinal matchups, France and Lithuania are set to do battle in the consolation game at the 2014 FIBA World Cup on Saturday.

Lithuania will likely look to pound the ball inside with big man Jonas Valanciunas, while France will attack from the perimeter with Nicolas Batum and Boris Diaw.

 

Tipoff12 p.m. ET

Coverage: ESPN3.com

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Lithuania vs. France: 2014 FIBA 3rd Place Game Live Stream and Preview

For Lithuania and France, the journey is far from over at the 2014 FIBA World Cup after losses in the semifinals.

Saturday, the two sides will meet in the 3rd Place Game for one final fleeting shot at glory on the international stage before the United States takes on Serbia in the final.

Lithuania encountered Team USA at precisely the wrong time as Mike Krzyzewski’s team seemed to hit full stride, while France rallied and lost a heartbreaker at the hands of Serbia late.

Below, let’s profile the two teams and everything else there is to know about Saturday’s showdown.

 

When: Saturday, September 13 at 12 p.m. ET 

Where: Palacio de Los Deportes, Madrid, Spain

Live Stream: ESPN3

 

The Road for Lithuania

After a somewhat mediocre performance in Group play, Jonas Valanciunas of the NBA‘s Toronto Raptors got off to a hot start in the knockout stages and never looked back.

In fact, Valanciunas had a coming out party of sorts in the team’s first knockout game against New Zealand. En route to the 76-71 triumph, he did much to counteract 26 points from Corey Webster by posting 22 of his own to go with 13 rebound and three blocks.

Valanciunas then took a back seat to Renaldas Seibutis in the next round, despite what was supposed to be an epic matchup beneath the rim between he and Omer Asik.

It wound up being a 73-61 victory over Turkey. Seibutis scored 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field, including a perfect mark on all three of his attempts from deep and four attempts at the foul line.

As hinted, though, the streak of good fortune for the Lithuanians came to a screeching halt in the semifinals against Team USA. Valanciunas poured in 15 points, as did Mindaugas Kuzminskas, but the impressive dominance the team had displayed beneath the rim to that point was nullified by a ridiculous shooting night from the Americans.

Led by Kyrie Irving‘s 18 points, Team USA shot 47.5 percent from the field while Lithuania mostly relied on trips to the foul line for production, attempting 42 shots. It obviously was not the desired end result, but Valanciunas and Co. can take solace in the fact that if they connect on more than just 17 field goals, the will stand a great chance in Saturday’s game.

 

The Road for France

Led by NBA players such as Nicolas Batum (Portland Trail Blazers), Evan Fournier (Orlando Magic), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), and Boris Diaw (Spurs), France followed a somewhat similar path through the knockout portion of the bracket after a showing that can only be described as lackluster in the Group stage.

Thanks to a consistent second half in which the French side scored 46 if its 69 points, the team scored a five-point win over Croatia to advance. Batum led the way with 14 points despite missing on all six of his attempts from deep.

Still, Batum’s performance was a sign of much bigger things to come.

France then did the unthinkable by taking down Spain and an elite front line consisting of Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka. That trio was limited to just 22 points in the 65-52 upset, 17 of which came from Pau.

Diaw led the way for France there, scoring 15 points while Gobert controlled the glass with 13 boards. He said after the fact that his team rallied around his efforts in the paint.

“I knew everybody was expecting me to help the team,” said Gobert, per ESPN.com’s Mark Woods. “Everybody knew I could stop them. That was just my mission. Everyone else played great offensively. I just had to stop Pau. He’s one of the best players in the world and if you stop him, they’re not as strong.”

Like Lithuania, though, the French appeared gassed Friday in the semifinals against Serbia in the 90-85 loss. Even a ridiculous 35 points from Batum was not enough to stop the Serbian side, which shot 57.1 percent from the field.

As Sportando documents, though, Batum’s recent momentum seems to bode well for Saturday’s contest:

Indeed, the game that takes a back seat to the final seems sure to entertain with plenty of offense.

 

3rd Place Game Preview and Prediction

As one can glean from their respective paths, this one has the making of an inside-out battle of epic proportions.

Valanciunas and Lithuania can rather easily take over a game in the paint, control the tempo via the glass and steal a win, especially with France coming off less recovery time after a loss. As Adam Papageorgiou of Magicbasketballonline.com muses, the team might be too gassed to give 100 percent:

Then again, that same time gap could mean Batum and the French side come out red hot, continue their superb shooting ways and run the Lithuanians out of the gym. 

Expect that to happen Saturday. France is on fire at the moment, and not only is it impressive the team shut down the likes of Spain in the paint, players such as Diaw (13 points and 10 rebounds in Friday’s loss) put things over the top as he can once again help turn the tide beneath the rim.

Regardless of the winner, kudos goes to both sides for making it this far. Lithuania managed to do it without Mantas Kalnietis, while France made a deep run sans Tony Parker and Joakim Noah.

Still, it is difficult to get past the spotty shooting from Lithuania at times, and although both teams lost in the semifinals, France has a ton of positive momentum in comparison to Lithuania.

Prediction: France 88, Lithuania 84

 

Full updated tournament bracket can be viewed at FIBA.com. Stats and info via ESPN and FIBA.com unless otherwise specified.

 

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Serbia vs. France: Live Score, Highlights for FIBA World Cup 2014 Semifinal

After stunning upsets in the quarterfinals against Brazil and Spain, Serbia and France are now set to take each other on in the semifinals of the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

Serbia demolished Brazil Wednesday by a final score of 84-56, thanks in large part to a huge 23-point performance from Milos Teodosic.

Later that day, France pulled off the upset of the tourney, beating Spain 65-52 thanks to a stifling defensive effort led by reserve center Rudy Gobert, whose 13 rebounds were more than the combined total of Marc and Pau Gasol.

 

TipoffESPN2

Coverage: 4 p.m. ET

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Beck/Bucher Debate: Which Players Will Live Up to Their Big-Money Deals?

There was no shortage of big-name free agents on the move this offseason, with the landscape of the NBA transformed by some big-money deals. Which teams will ultimately regret giving out such large contracts?

Find out which players Howard Beck and Ric Bucher believe will earn their money as they debate the topic in the video above. 

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