This guy thinks LeBron will be better this season

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This guy thinks LeBron will be better this season

From Comcast SportsNet
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- All LeBron James has done so far this year is win the NBA's MVP award for the third time, an NBA Finals MVP trophy to go along with that one, his elusive first championship and a second Olympic gold medal. Dwyane Wade thinks his Miami Heat teammate is just getting started. With the start of Heat training camp now just six weeks away, Wade said on Friday that he expects James to be even better this coming season now that the will-he-ever-win-a-championship question has been forever put to rest. "That monkey is off his back and now he's just playing basketball," Wade said while taking a break from his annual fantasy camp, where fans pay up to 12,500 to get a four-day luxury taste of NBA life. "I think we'll see a better LeBron James -- scary to say, three-time MVP -- than we've seen. And it's because all he has to do is play basketball now. He doesn't have to worry about what he hasn't done. It'll always be something, but he's got the biggest one off his back." Wade was a James fan instead of a James teammate this summer, when the U.S. men's basketball team won its second straight Olympic gold. Wade could not play while recovering from knee surgery but was in London for part of the Olympic tournament, and he said James made playing at a high level -- such as a triple-double against Australia in the quarterfinal round -- seem "effortless." It's been that way for a while, too. Going back to Miami's win-or-go-home Game 6 in Boston of the Eastern Conference finals, James has played in 20 games with the Heat and for USA Basketball. In those, his teams are 19-1, with the lone loss being Game 1 of the NBA Finals against Oklahoma City. Four straight wins to close that title series, then five straight exhibition victories with the U.S. team, then an 8-0 Olympic record -- 17 straight wins in all. "He's on an amazing run," Wade said. "When you're on these kind of runs, you enjoy it. You keep going because you don't know when it's going to stop. I think he's just enjoying it right now. He's doing all this stuff without thinking about it. He's breaking records. He's in the history books. He's not thinking about it; he's just doing it. He's at a gear that I've seen myself at before when it just feels easy. He's just a gear above everyone." Soon, Wade hopes to be back at his usual gear. He's starting to hit the peak of his offseason schedule. Wade hosts his annual "Wade's World" weekend for kids in Chicago next week, then begins his book tour in New York on Sept. 4. Wade spent much of the past year writing a book about his experience as a father and the custody fight for his two sons. And as he said in London, Wade reiterated on Friday his recovery from knee surgery is going according to plan, and that he intends to be back on the court to begin workouts in a couple of weeks. That means he won't be scrimmaging the fantasy campers this weekend -- though instead of dunking on them, as he did last summer, he will take them on in a 3-point contest instead. It's far from the strongest part of his game, but he's not too worried. "I'll have some fun, be able to interact with them, make sure they're able (to) say that they lost to me again," Wade said. "I won't show up and leave. I'm here. They'll see me here all day; they know I'm a part of it. They know I'll run out on the court when they do something great and know I'll say something when they don't." Campers get to stay in an upscale hotel, receive plenty of new basketball gear, and even get coached by, among others, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Indiana's Tom Crean -- who coached Wade at Marquette. Miami coach Jim Larranaga and South Carolina's Frank Martin, a Miami native, are also on the coaching lineup. "I wish I could play," Wade said. Instead, he'll be a fan this weekend, just like he was for James in London. "I'm one of LeBron's biggest fans," Wade said. "I couldn't be teammates with him if I wasn't a fan of his game. I'm one of his biggest supporters, one of his best friends. It's good to see him succeed like this, especially because I know the stuff he's dealt with. It's in the rear-view mirror now and he's going to move forward."

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3 bold predictions: Caps look to shutdown a sputtering Tampa offense

3 bold predictions: Caps look to shutdown a sputtering Tampa offense

The Capitals will look to erase the memory of Thursday’s loss to the Islanders as they return to the ice Saturday night in Tampa Bay (7 p.m. on CSN).

Here are three bold predictions for the game against the Lightning:

1. Jakub Vrana will get his first NHL point on the power play

Considering how much the Caps have struggled on the power play lately, it seems odd to think they will find success in Tampa thanks to a rookie playing in only his second NHL game. But producing on the power play is Vrana’s specialty. He is a very talented young player with a lot of confidence. A Lightning penalty kill that has only been 81.3 percent effective this season may not know how to handle the young sniper.

RELATED: CAPS CASINO NIGHT BRINGS FANS AND PLAYERS TOGETHER

2. Both teams will combine for over 15 shots on goal in the first period

The Caps have lost two straight games and three of their last five. The Lightning have lost four straight and five of their last six. These are two teams desperate to turn things around and that will show in what should be a frantic first period. Expect a frantic opening frame with both teams trying to exert control early on.

3. Tampa Bay will score two goals or fewer

The Lighting scored four goals in a loss against St. Louis, but this is a team that is struggling to find consistent offense since losing superstar forward Steven Stamkos to injury. Prior to the game against the Blues, Tampa had been held to only five goals in three games. Despite the Caps’ recent struggles, they have played well defensively and should be able to shutdown a Tampa offense that hasn’t quite figured out how to score consistently without their top threat in the lineup.

MORE CAPITALS: Q&A: IS IT TIME TO SHUFFLE THE DEFENSE?

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Barry Trotz: Capitals 'want to find out about' Paul Carey

Barry Trotz: Capitals 'want to find out about' Paul Carey

TAMPA—When the Capitals face the Lightning on Saturday night, recent minor league recall Paul Carey figures to be in the lineup.

It’ll be Carey’s second game with Washington this season and sixth dating to last year. It could also represent Carey’s best chance of carving out a bigger role with the Caps, who have scored 12 goals in the past six games, dropped three of their last five and, as Coach Barry Trotz put it, are in need of “a little push.”

“He’s been very detailed,” Trotz said, asked what he’s liked about Carey’s play in previous stints with the Caps. “He’s been fairly productive. He scored [a goal last season]. He’s made some really good plays tracking down pucks. I like his speed. I think he’s a mature guy that has been very consistent for Hershey. [Bears Coach] Troy [Mann] has talked about him having great success for them, being really consistent and valuable.”

Carey, a quick, tenacious 6-foot-1, 198-pound left wing, has five goals and nine assists in 16 games with the Bears this season.

At 28, though, Carey is running out of time to prove he can be a full-time NHL player. His age might suggest to some that he’s missed his window of opportunity. But that’s not how Trotz sees it. Trotz likes what he’s seen and heard—and he wants to get another good look before rendering a verdict.

Since being drafted in the fifth round by the Avalanche in 2007, Carey has played for Indiana (USHL), Boston College, Lake Erie (AHL), the Avalanche, Providence (AHL), the Bears and Caps. It hasn’t been the most circuitous route in hockey history, but it hasn’t been a direct route, either.

“We want to find out about him,” Trotz said. “Guys getting to the NHL have different paths. And they have different timeframes. I’ve had Joel Ward. I’ve had Andrew Brunette. I’ve had Vern Fiddler.”

“Those are all pretty good players who just took a longer path,” he continued. “Maybe [Carey] is taking a longer path. We need to find out what he can do so that we’re not missing anything with him as a player. So he’s going to get an opportunity. I think we need a little push here.”   

Carey was actually called up along with Jakub Vrana on Wednesday and was scheduled to play against Islanders on Thursday night. But he fell ill—he thinks it was food poisoning—on the 130-mile drive from Hershey to Arlington, Va.

Carey returned to practice Friday and skated on the third line alongside Lars Eller and Justin Williams, which is where he's expected to play against the Bolts.

MORE CAPITALS: 3 bold predictions: Caps look to shutdown the Tampa offense