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Monday, October 11, 2004
The Contenders


Ford: Pacers try move from first to champs
Indiana won a league-high 61 games last season. Now they want to take the next step.

NBA Insider: The trio at the top
The Pistons, Spurs and Wolves have what it takes to win a championship this year. But are all title contenders created equal?




Darlings Who Must Deliver

Stein: Nuggets' hopes remain mile high
Carmelo Anthony's had a rough offseason, but Denver expects to keep climbing.

Ford: Does the slipper still fit?
How will last season's feel-good stories – the Grizzlies, Cavs, Jazz and Bucks – fare now that expectations are higher?




Identity Crisis

Bucher: Sacramento on slippery slope
The Sacramento Kings are not the same happy-go-lucky bunch we're accustomed to.

Ford: Teams in transition
The Nets, Knicks, Sixers and Hornets have moved from playoff contenders to big question marks this season.

SportsNation: Worst identity crisis?



Reinventing Themselves

Stein: Nash's task -- lift Phoenix from ashes
Steve Nash returns to Phoenix, where his legs and teammates appear faster than ever.

Ford: Breaking the mold
Five NBA teams are in the process of radically (re)defining themselves.

SportsNation: Who can win again?



In a Rut

Bucher: Either 'learn or die'
Golden State hopes to open a new book with former Stanford coach Mike Montgomery.

Ford: Same old story
The Clippers, Bulls, Blazers, Raptors and Sonics have fallen and they can't get up.

SportsNation: Who's 'in a rut'?



Under The Gun

Stein: Lakers ready to disprove doubts
Experts and fans may be writing off the Lakers without Shaq and Phil, but the players aren't.

Ford: Offseason slam dunks?
Miami, Dallas and Houston must make good on their dramatic offseason makeovers.

SportsNation: Who's 'under the gun'?



HOT SPOTS
ESPN.com visited 10 of most talked-about teams during training camp.
MONDAY, OCT. 11
Los Angeles Lakers

• Stein: Loss of pressure
• Inside Lakers camp
MONDAY, OCT. 18
Utah Jazz

• Ford: A different tune
• Inside Jazz camp
TUESDAY, OCT. 12
Charlotte Bobcats

• Ford: Who are these 'Cats?
• Inside Bobcats camp
TUESDAY, OCT. 19
Houston Rockets

• Bucher: Van Gundy's team
• Inside Rockets camp
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 13
Cleveland Cavaliers

• Stein: Playoffs or bust
• Inside Cavaliers camp
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 20
Orlando Magic

• Ford: The IceMan Buildeth
• Inside Magic camp
THURSDAY, OCT. 14
Detroit Pistons

• Ford: Firing on all cylinders
• Inside Pistons camp
THURSDAY, OCT. 21
Miami Heat

• Ford: The Big Copernicus
• Inside Heat camp
FRIDAY, OCT. 15
Dallas Mavericks

• Stein: Nellie's best defense
• Inside Mavericks camp
FRIDAY, OCT. 22
San Antonio Spurs

• Stein: Expecting the best
• Inside Spurs camp