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Clint Capela: ‘We are better’ than Golden State

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Superstar guard James Harden called the Houston Rockets’ 116-108 win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night important “for our swag,” which was soaring after the Rockets claimed the regular-season series over the defending NBA champions.

“We’re confident because we know if we’re doing what we’re supposed to do, we’re going to beat them,” Rockets center Clint Capela told ESPN. “We’ve got to keep playing. We know that they’re going to come back if we have the lead, and we’ve just got to keep that mindset. Sometimes I feel like, in the past, we were all dragging down after mistakes. But today, we were ready. I think that if we’re doing what we’re supposed to do on defense — all the switches, the weak side — and keep playing our offense by keeping that mentality all game long, we have the weapons to beat them.

“We are better than them.”

Houston won two of three meetings with Golden State this season. The Rockets rallied from a 17-point deficit for a road win in the season opener despite Chris Paul playing on a bruised knee that sidelined him for the next month. Golden State won in Houston on Jan. 4 in a game in which Warriors star Kevin Durant and MVP front-runner Harden sat out because of injuries. The Rockets withstood a Warriors rally from a 17-point deficit, with the lead changing six times in the fourth quarter, to claim a tiebreaker that Houston hopes to make relevant.

Source: Tim MacMahon of ESPN

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Sources: NBA Targeting Pre-Christmas Start, 72-Game Regular Season

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The NBA’s league office informed the Board of Governors on Friday that it is targeting to start the 2020-21 season on Dec. 22, three days before Christmas Day, and would like to play a 72-game campaign, sources told The Athletic.

This would mean a return close to the NBA’s normal schedule, significant financial ramifications to start early, a potential finish before the 2021 Summer Olympics, and allow a window for stars to play in the Olympics, sources said. The NBA wants to continue to incorporate the play-in tournament that was utilized in the Orlando restart to determine the eighth seed in the Eastern and Western Conference playoffs, according to sources. ESPN first reported that a Christmas start and playing fewer than 82 games would be discussed on Friday’s call.

The National Basketball Players Association would need to sign off on any plan to start the season on Dec. 22.

Source: Shams Charania of The Athletic

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Sources: Pacers Interested in Gordon Hayward

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Something to keep an eye on once we find out when NBA teams can start making trades: some within the Pacers organization continue to have interest in trading for Celtics’ Gordon Hayward, per SNY sources.

It’s unknown what Boston would want in return for Hayward — or if the club is even open to moving him.

In an NBC Sports podcast in June, the Indianapolis Star noted that Hayward would be a player of interest for the Pacers in the offseason.

Hayward, who starred at Butler, can become a free agent by opting out of the final year of his deal, worth roughly $34 million. It’s hard to see Hayward opting out of his deal without the assurance of a long-term extension in place.

Source: Ian Begley of SNY.tv

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Sources: Warriors Work Out Deni Avdija

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Steve Kerr and other members of the Warriors organization worked out Maccabi Tel Aviv prospect Deni Avdija on Thursday morning in Atlanta, according to sources. By all accounts, it was a positive get together, one in which the 19-year-old Israeli impressed observers. Not only did Avdija perform well in the workouts, but Warriors officials were blown away after meeting with him. The universal takeaway was that he’s a “great kid” with an immense work ethic.

Source: Ethan Strauss of The Athletic

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