How cool would it be if every game started with the players hatching out of freaky pulsating eggs? The answer is very cool. Anyways…
The NBA officially tipped off on Tuesday, but with just three games last night it wasn’t in full swing. With a full docket tonight is when the real season started. I know because the sheer volume of games on NBA League Pass and constant refreshing of box scores literally stressed me out trying to keep up for my entire evening. It started the moment I got back to the apartment with Philly kicking off their playoff run and didn’t finish till after 1:00 AM. My initial thoughts on the games I watched big chunks of before I turn in:
Toronto 95, Philly 84
Despite the loss, the Sixers looked promising. Give them time. Thad got into foul trouble early and the bigs need time to get their legs under them. Philly fans saw some good signs, like excellent rebounding on the offensive end and fast hands on defense. On the other side, I don’t see how Chris Bosh doesn’t have a monster season. I’m not a Jermaine O’Neal fan, but he’ll take a lot of pressure off on both ends.
Atlanta 99, Orlando 85
It’s only the first game of the season, but a big win for the Hawks on the road. That was an area they needed to improve on this season and they closed out the game well. In the latest proof of the preseason’s irrelevancy, my man J-Smoove busted out with a sick line of 17 points, 10 boards, 4 steals and 5 blocks. Guy is in for a big year. Not to be outdone, Superman responded with a 4×5 in the losing effort with 22 points, 15 boards, 5 steals and 5 blocks. Massive line, but the 6-13 free-throw shooting is more of the same.
Minnesota 98, Sacramento 96
Hey, maybe the Wolves have finally figured out how to close out games. It was a little tighter than I would like to see given the 7-point lead with about two minutes remaining, but they pulled it out. ETB favorite Big Al Jefferson looked smooth and motivated. With his attitude, footwork and natural tools, the sky is the limit. And a headbanded Corey Brewer actually looked like a player, making an impact on D and gliding up and down the floor. Kudos to Kevin Love on a nice debut, I never doubted you Kev. Love finished with a game-high +20 in the +/- column and nearly chipped in a double-double with 12 points and 9 boards.
Pencil in John Salmons for early-season MIP. Dude is going to put up some big numbers sans Ron Ron.
Phoenix 103, San Antonio 98
Boo hoo and ho hum.
Los Angeles Lakers 117, Los Angeles Clippers 79
Sorry Baron, all the heart in the world won’t make this team a contender. I still think Al Thornton is in line for a breakout season.
On the other side, the Lakers are even better than they were last season, and that’s scary. With Lamar Odom coming off the bench the NBA’s second unit just got better, even if my favorite spark plug Ronny Turiaf is gone. Trevor Ariza is going to be a major asset for this club with his athleticism and defense, and with that improved outside stroke I see a starting role for him before the season is out. Andrew Bynum is Andrew Bynum.
New Orleans 108, Golden State 103
What was that Chris Paul benching all about? No matter, he still had plenty of time to drop 21 points, 11 assists, 5 boards and 3 steals on the Warriors’ heads. The James Posey signing already looks good. Having Posey on the floor at the same time as Peja gave the Warriors fits as they were just unable to close out on the shooters when New Orleans swung the ball around the perimeter.
In the Bay Area, Corey Maggette looks like a fantastic acquisition. The man is going to live at the free-throw line in Don Nelson’s up-tempo offense. The career 82% free-throw shooter is A-OK with that. He can take it to the hole like few others, starting things off with a 9-10 performance from the line with a game-high 27 points. Maggette is going to score a ton of points this year and his ability to nail free throw after free throw in tight games will be a major asset.