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Home at last: Islanders play opener at new UBS Arena

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NEW YORK — The New York Islanders‘ long wait is finally over.

Nearly four years after winning the bid to build a new home next to Belmont Park, the Islanders opened the doors to UBS Arena on Saturday night. The Calgary Flames were the Islanders’ first home opponent this season after the team spent the first 5 1/2 weeks of the season playing 13 road games.

“It’s a beautiful building,” said Lonny Lehman, a first-time season-ticket holder from East Meadow, New York, a short drive from the Coliseum. “(Looking forward to) just having a home again. … It’s been a long time coming. Our politicians failed us. Fortunately, our new owners kept us here and they’re going to have a nice following.”

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The Flames won 5-2 spoiling the debut of the new arena.

The Islanders are home at last
After a decades-long run at Nassau Coliseum, an indelible if flawed part of the Long Island hockey experience, and a brief stint at the Barclays Center while waiting for their new home, the Islanders finally opened the doors to UBS Arena. Here are the best moments from opening night.

The $1.1 billion building is the culmination of a campaign that started more than a decade ago by previous Islanders owner Charles Wang. First came the proposed Lighthouse Project in 2007 that was part of redevelopment plan, but went nowhere. Then, Nassau County voters rejected an attempt to secure public financing for a new arena four years later, and the unpopular move to Brooklyn in 2015 eventually saw the team splitting home games between Barclays Center and the Coliseum.

Now, the new arena is here and the years of uncertainty over the team’s future are over.

Lehman also praised Islanders owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky, saying: “They’re fantastic. I wish they owned the (NFL’s New York) Jets.”

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Tickets for the home opener were sold out months in advance, and there was a waitlist for season tickets. Sellers were listing tickets for the first game from $230 for the cheapest seats in the corner to more than $800 on StubHub.com a few hours before puck drop.

UBS Arena has a capacity of 17,250 — larger than the 13,917 at the renovated Coliseum and 15,795 at Barclays Center.

“This is awesome,” Jason Saltsberg said. “This is definitely much more luxurious than the Coliseum was. Everything has been trending in the right direction. As soon as they announced the arena, the team seemed turn the corner and its all happening at once and its fantastic.”

The Islanders went 5-6-2 on their season-opening stretch of road games, including four straight losses. Twenty-five of their next 36 games will be at home, and they don’t play more than two consecutive games on the road until a four-game trip from Jan. 4-11.

“Hopefully, they can bring the Cup home,” said Holly Baratta, who bought season tickets for the last season of the Coliseum, but didn’t get to use them because of limited seating due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The players got a chance to practice on the ice at the new rink Thursday and were impressed.

“It absolutely blew me away,” the Islanders’ Mathew Barzal said. “I walked right in, saw the gym, saw the eating area and I couldn’t wait to see more. The entire facility and the rink and how it was set up was so high-end. … We’re a really lucky group.”



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Zion Williamson Has His Return On The Schedule

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(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

 

Fans of the New Orleans Pelicans have been eagerly anticipating the start of the 2022-23 season.

It’s not just because the team did surprisingly well last year and it feels like great things are on the horizon.

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No, followers of the Pels are elated because 2022 will mark the return of the team’s centerpiece, Zion Williamson.

Williamson has been away from the game for more than a year as he has rehabbed from a serious foot injury but he looks ready to go.

Now we know when he will fire up his engines once again.

On October 19, the Pelicans will face off against the Brooklyn Nets in New York.

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This will be the first time that fans have seen Williamson play in ages – and it will also be the first time that Ben Simmons has ever suited up for his Nets.

This is going to be must-see TV.

 

Winning With Williamson

There is a lot riding on Williamson’s return to his team.

The squad showed an awful lot of promise without him but they are very excited to have him back, healthier and stronger than ever.

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If the team was able to make the playoffs last season without Williamson, imagine what they can accomplish when he is back and tearing through the competition like a runaway freight train.

As for the Nets, opening night will be interesting because it will have Simmons finally playing for the team – but he might be missing his two biggest co-stars.

We don’t know what is happening with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving but there is a good chance neither player is on the Nets’ roster when the new season starts.

As you can see, this scheduled game will have plenty of reasons to watch.

The post Zion Williamson Has His Return On The Schedule appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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What Would It Take For The Nuggets To Win A Title?

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(Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images)

 

The Denver Nuggets have assembled a very strong squad over the last few years.

They boast two-time reigning regular season MVP Nikola Jokic, a throwback wide-bodied center who is a load to deal with in the paint but can also handle the ball and facilitate a bit like some other modern big men.

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In the backcourt, they have Jamal Murray, who has become an All-Star caliber point guard and has shown some ability to go off in big games.

Denver also has Michael Porter Jr., a forward whom many feel has All-Star potential, plus strong supporting players such as Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Jeff Green.

Many expect the Nuggets to be one of the top teams in the Western Conference, assuming Murray and Porter, both of whom are coming off serious injuries, return to their pre-injury form.

But are the Nuggets legitimate championship contenders, or just a bit short of that category?

They can win it all, but there is a checklist of things that would need to happen.

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Jokic Needs To Maintain His MVP Form

Jokic, the 27-year-old Serbian native, is one of the most unique players ever, as he doesn’t just score and rebound at a high level.

He is also one of the league’s best passers, despite being a 6-foot-11, 284-pound center who isn’t too mobile.

He averaged 7.9 assists per game last season, and the year before that he put up 8.3 dimes a game.

Outside of perhaps Wilt Chamberlain, who actually led the entire NBA in assists one year, and Bill Walton, Jokic is probably the best passing big man ever.

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One thing Jokic can and should improve on is his 3-point shooting, which has fluctuated throughout his seven-year career.

In the 2021-22 season, he made just 33.7 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc, but the year before, he shot a robust 38.8 percent from deep.

 

Murray Needs To Be His Best Self

In the 2019-20 season, his last fully healthy season, Murray put up fine regular season numbers of 18.5 points and 4.8 assists per game.

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But during the playoffs, he went into volcano mode, averaging 26.5 points a contest on 50.5 percent overall shooting and 45.3 percent from 3-point range.

In that postseason, he had four 40-point-plus games, as well as two 50-point outings.

When Denver upset the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 of the second round and overcame a 3-1 series deficit, Murray led the way with 40 points on 15-of-26 shooting.

He improved to 21.2 points a game the following season while significantly boosting his 3-point shooting accuracy before an ACL injury ended his year late in the schedule.

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For the Nuggets to win the world title, Murray has to continue where he left off in 2021 while putting up huge playoff games when they really need him to.

 

Better Depth

The Nuggets are not a particularly deep team, and so, they will need some unheralded men to step up.

The backcourt and wing rotations look solid, but they could use some better depth up front.

As of now, Jokic’s main backup will be DeAndre Jordan, who is 34 and coming off a season with the Los Angeles Lakers in which he looked washed.

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If Jordan doesn’t cut it, Denver will be at a sizable disadvantage when Jokic is resting.

The team could also use one more serviceable forward with legitimate forward height.

As of now, Bruce Brown is slated to be its backup 3, and even though he’s a solid 3-and-D player, he is just 6-foot-4.

The post What Would It Take For The Nuggets To Win A Title? appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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The Dodgers Are First To An Impressive 2022 Mark

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(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

 

Thanks to the recent slide of the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers now have the best record in all of baseball and are dominating everybody in their path.

After signing Freddie Freeman, the Dodgers became instant favorites to win another World Series title, just as they did in 2020.

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They’re in a good position to potentially do that again.

Last night, they opened up a series against the struggling Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field.

They had learned of some tough news earlier in the day when it was revealed that Walker Buehler would be out for the rest of the season.

But that didn’t stop Julio Urias, who dominated the Brewers for five innings and led the way as the Dodgers became the first team in all of baseball to reach 80 wins.

 

80 Wins For The Dodgers

Once again, these Dodgers are at the top of the heap.

Even with all of the injuries they have dealt with, they remain as one of the top teams in all of baseball.

Even more impressive, they’ve picked up their 80th win before they even reached 40 losses on the year.

They expanded their lead in the NL West to 17 games.

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They’ve effectively buried the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants.

The new “Evil Empire” resides in Los Angeles now.

This is one of, if not the best team in all of baseball from top to bottom.

The wins keep piling up.

Despite the end of their 12-game winning streak, they remain hot and are showing no signs of slowing down.

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The Dodgers are going to be a tough team to deal with come October, which is where they always shine the brightest.

The post The Dodgers Are First To An Impressive 2022 Mark appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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