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Paul Pierce is even better, big changes for the Pistons, and Marbury at small forward?

By 10.05.08
Kevin GarnettKevin Garnett, Dime #30

In between college football on Saturday we caught NBA TV’s “Real Training Camp” with the Celtics. During the week we noticed the “We can win this thing” swagger surrounding the Hornets during their episode, but the C’s had that definite “We DID win this thing” swag. Paul Pierce, who lost about seven pounds over the summer, was looking like he increased his vertical as well. He got up for some dunks, and during the five-on-five scrimmage he chased down Eddie House from behind and swatted his shot against the glass (which the ref whistled for goaltending). Kevin Garnett was in his usual dark place, cussing at everyone and everything from himself to his water bottle … Kendrick Perkins (shoulder) didn’t practice but looked ripped; Danny Ainge said he might be the most in-shape player in camp. Then again, Ainge also said Brian Scalabrine “can be a very good complementary player,” and said Boston’s defense played its best when Scal was on the court, so there’s a solid chance he’d been drinking … Darius Miles looked old and pudgy. If you glanced at the screen real quick and saw him in his green #7, you’d think he was Al Jefferson. The five-on-five pitted first team versus second team, with Patrick O’Bryant taking Perk’s spot and engaging in a less-than-epic battle with Big Baby. The 7-foot O’Bryant hit a couple shots over 6-9 Big Baby, but Baby also got him with a block and some tough D … The NBA preseason tips off today, with Heat/Pistons and Warriors/Hornets on the schedule. And Detroit will officially go into this year with a new look, as coach Michael Curry just named Amir Johnson the starting power forward, with Antonio McDyess and Jason Maxiell backing him up. We’ll have to wait and see if Amir actually produces or if he ends up being like Royal Ivey in Atlanta a couple years ago, a “starter” who gets taken out in the first quarter and you never see him again … Don’t count out the Jamaal Tinsley-to-Denver deal just yet. After killing the initial reports of the trade on Friday, the Indianapolis Star cited a source who said it’s a “strong possibility” that the trade could happen in the next few days. As far as we know it’s still Chucky Atkins and Steven Hunter in the deal. Whether they get Tinsley or not, Denver’s biggest concern going into this year is replacing Marcus Camby‘s defense and rebounding. Of course, no one said they had to trade him, but that’s beside the point. Anyway, Camby has been sick and missing practice in L.A., but said he’s still bitter over the way the Nuggets shipped him out for basically nothing. Mark your calendar for the first Nuggets/Clippers game of the year, where Camby might put up a points-boards-blocks triple double … Since we’ve got to read between the lines in everything that’s going on with the Knicks, it raised lots of eyebrows when Donnie Walsh was asked about the team’s point guard situation and didn’t mention Stephon Marbury, instead talking about Chris Duhon, Nate Robinson and Mardy Collins. Then when someone asked about Steph specifically, Walsh said he sees Steph maybe playing three positions. We know Mike D’Antoni can do small-ball, but 6-foot-2 Steph playing the three? Not feeling that. But Steph did say he’s always been a good teammate, so he shouldn’t have a problem mixing it up … Speaking of, you don’t have to read too hard between the lines of this quote from Rudy Gay: “Whereas Pau (Gasol) is a guy who would rather play out on the perimeter, Marc (Gasol) doesn’t mind banging with guys. He’s doesn’t mind confrontation down there. That’s kind of refreshing. He wants to be his own player, and he’s working toward that. He’s definitely asserting himself.” … Keeping with the training camp theme of big expectations, here’s Jameer Nelson: “I’m trying to become an All-Star and an Olympian,” Nelson told the Orlando Sentinel. “But I’m trying to win a championship first and foremost.” We like the confidence and everyone needs to set goals — we just see the championship happening for Jameer way before an All-Star nod or a Team USA spot. And that first part will only happen on the back of Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis, if Rashard lives up to his price tag … Amare Stoudemire is gonna have to wear goggles while he recovers from the eye-poke doled out by Boris Diaw a few days ago, prompting Shaq to call him “Kareem Abdul-Amare.” If Amare makes it to Opening Night still wearing them, what are the chances he starts a trend? We’ve seen the headband make a comeback; everyone was rocking a rubber band around their wrist for a while; then the “compression” tights came and went; it’s about time for for an ’80s-style goggles resurgence. Get Amare and another star like LeBron to do it, and it’ll be big … We’re out like Jameer’s gold medal …


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