Go East, young man: Wizards’ Rivers happy he has

Austin Rivers of the Wizards is happy to be in the Eastern Conference.

It’s no secret the Western Conference is decidedly more rugged than the East in terms of teams trying to navigate a path to the NBA Finals.

However, with LeBron James, who has led the last eight Eastern Conference champions to the Finals having taken his talents to Hollywood to join the Los Angeles Lakers, the door through the East to play for the Larry O’Brien trophy is now officially open.

Just ask Austin Rivers, the new guard for the Washington Wizards acquired in a trade June 26 from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for center Marcin Gortat.

“This training camp, this season is just gonna be a different type of mindset,” Rivers told Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “[Before] you would play and you know you’re going to run into Golden State. Here, in the East, it’s really like everybody can get there. You can go to the Finals or the conference finals if you’re a playoff-caliber team, which this team is.”

While Rivers told Hughes the Boston Celtics, who bowed to James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals the past two seasons are probably the favorites next season, he and his new teammates are anxious to get after it.

“I think that puts a different confidence, focus and energy on a team,” he said. “I think that will probably be a focal point in training camp, I’m sure the coaches and everyone will say this is something we need to take advantage of.”