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Don't sleep on the Pacers

Don't sleep on the Pacers

The Indiana Pacers had eventual champion Miami on the ropes in the second round of the eastern conference playoffs last spring. Up 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, the Pacers were at home with a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead but they let it slip away and saw the Heat run off three straight victories to win the series in 6 games.
Despite thedisappointingending, the Pacers have a young core of players and the future looks good going forward, especially for a team that just three years ago waslanguishing near the bottom of the eastern conference. The Pacers got back to the playoffs for the secondstraightseason with solid draft picks and the addition of hard-nosed, but not flashy, veteran players like David West through free-agency.
The big decision for the Pacers this off-season was whether to re-sign center Roy Hibbert to a big 4-year, 58 million deal, which they did. Hibbert is coming off his best season in the NBA as the 7-footer averaged 13 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks a game and made his first all-star game. The ever-improving Hibbert also saw the teamretain veteran guard George Hill to a 5-year, 40 million deal.
Hill averaged 9 points and 3 assists last season as a backup point guard, but he will step in as the starter this season with Darren Collison getting traded to Dallas for forward Ian Mahinmi.
The Pacers also brought free agents D.J. Augustin and Gerald Green on board. Augustin averaged 10 points and 4 assists over a four-year span in Charlotte and will back up Hill. Green can provide a spark off the bench. After being called up from the D-League, Green averaged 13 points and 4 rebounds in 31 games for New Jersey.
In the draft -- where the Pacers have shined recently with picks like Paul George, Tyler Hansbrough and Hibbert -- Indiana took center Mile Plumlee with the 26th overall selection. The 6'-10" Plumlee averaged only 6 points and 7 rebounds in his senior season at Duke but the Pacers hope he can provide depth up-front.
Leading scorer Danny Granger is back as well for Indiana. Granger averaged 18 points last season but three years ago the veteran put up 25 points a game and was an all-star.The Pacers are hoping he can return to something closer to his 2008-09 form.
Larry Bird, the hall of fame player who helped orchestrate the quick turnaround, left the team this summer as general manager, handing the reins over to one-time Blazers g.m. Kevin Pritchard. Frank Vogel, considered one of the rising young coaches in the NBA, is back for his second full season.
The Pacers feel like they have a solid nucleus that can take them even farther in the post-season this year. With Hibbert, West, George and Granger in the mix, they are probably right.

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Swaggy Picasso's Sole Talk had the Wizards taking notice opening night

Swaggy Picasso's Sole Talk had the Wizards taking notice opening night

The connection between athletes and their fans is a powerful thing in sports. The NBA is one of the trendiest, fashion-forward leagues in the world. From shoe design to overall wardrobe to eccentric personalities...the Association has it all on display for fans across the globe to consume. 

Lloyd Ferguson, a fan himself and native of Silver Spring, Md., is bursting onto the customized sneakers scene as an up-and-coming artist. 

His Instagram (@SwaggyPicasso) serves as his personal laboratory and a platform to share his creations. 

Prior to the start of Thursday night's Wizards-Heat game, NBC Sports Washington invited Ferguson to Capital One Arena for what would become a memorable night for the 23-year-old. 

Chris Miller and Drew Gooden featured Swaggy Picasso on the pregame show for an interview and sneaker showcase.

"The inside of my body was jiggling and moving. I was like 'I gotta keep composed and stay cool. You're on national televison, Lloyd.'" 

You would have never known it. 

Ferguson, who was a basketball player himself locally, grew up a Wizards and D.C. sports fan all around. 

Little did he know several Wizards would take notice of his artwork. 

Kelly Oubre, Devin Robinson and John Wall - each known for their wardrobes and respective styles - stopped by to take a peek at Ferguson's kicks. 

"Their reactions to my art was all I needed, honestly. They see the potential and growth. It's very overwhelming." 

It was a groundbreaking night for a young talent with lofty dreams and aspirations. 

Swaggy Picasso has no plans of stopping anytime soon. 

"I've been busting out these shoes day and night. I don't sleep. My desire to paint shoes is ridiculous." 



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Wizards vs. Raptors: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Wizards vs. Raptors: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Wizards take to the court Saturday night looking for their first win of the season against the Toronto Raptors. 

In their first game of the season the Wizards laid an egg after the Miami Heat were missing three rotation players on the second end of a back-to-back. Similar problems emerged even with new offseason additions Jeff Green and Austin Rivers having stellar debuts. Dwight Howard did not play in the contest, still dealing with a butt injury. 

Now, the Wizards will go up against one of the favorites to win the Eastern Conference, the Raptors. They also acquired a former All-Star in Kwahi Leonard this offseason, trading away DeMar DeRozan. Besides the switch, this is pretty much the same squad that knocked the Wizards out of the First Round of the playoffs last season.

On Saturday the Raptors will be coming off a back-to-back after hosting the Boston Celtics on Friday night. Once again, another big opportunity for the Wizards against an Eastern Conference foe early in the season.

The Wizards-Raptors will take place on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 7:00 p.m. at Capital One Arena and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.


What: Washington Wizards vs. Toronto Raptors, 2018 NBA regular season Game 2
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Wizards vs. Raptors will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)
Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Raptors on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the new MyTeams App.
Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

6:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)
6:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)
7:00 PM: Toronto Raptors @ Wizards (LIVE)
9:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)
10:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)
10:30 PM: Redskins GameDay: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)


Wizards: Dwight Howard (questionable)
Raptors: Delon Wright (day-to-day), OG Anunoby (probable)


John Wall, Wizards: After speculation on if Wall would return to his peak form, he showed out on Thursday night. With 26 points, nine assists, and four blocks, the point guard was all around the court for the Wizards. 

Otto Porter Jr./ Jeff Green, Wizards: Covering Leonard is going to be a tall task. It is anticipated that the taller Otto Porter Jr. and Jeff Green to be the duo that will be covering the lengthy guard.  Neither guy are going to light-up the stat sheet on the offensive end, but after a nice showing by Green on Thursday look for them to split time defensively. 

Khawi Leonard: Leonard had 24 points and 12 rebounds in his debut with the Raptors, picking up right where he left off before his injury. Will a back-to-back affect the star that hasn't played consistently since 2016? 


Number of all-time Meetings: 95 games
Regular Season Record: Raptors lead 48-37
Postseason Record: Wizards lead 6-4
Last Meeting: Raptors won 102-92
Last 10: Raptors lead 6-4