It’s been incredibly easy to dig in and be consumed with some great NBA action this past week. Opening week can sometimes show the ugly side of professional basketball as teams come out of training camp and begin to get into the coveted “mid-season” form.
I’ve heard a few people say it but coming into this season it hasn’t been easy to forget what occurred just a few months back in June – and so far – becoming a faint cloud over this current NBA season.
Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.
The first week definitely triggered an onslaught of hot takes that only exist to drive conversation among the “sports talk” groups. However there were some things that stood out to us at the CC staff post-discussion before the season began.
Select any team to face the Cavaliers in the first game of the season and with the Knicks being scheduled it would seem they drew the short straw. From the first play however the Knicks appeared to have a tiny boost in their step as the newly acquired Derrick Rose drive to the hoop finishing with his signature gather-jump lay-up. As the game progressed the Knicks stayed relatively close to the Cavs right up until the 3rd quarter where the Knicks became the Knicks and the C’s rolled them over and into an eventual 29 point loss.
The game was a direct reflection of a team that stayed together for the majority and have entered the season in great condition physically and mentally. Physically the Cavs are not a question as long as LeBron is at the helm, but the mental advantage this team now has will more than likely land them right back into the NBA Finals for the 3rd straight season. The release for everybody on this roster made everything they’d been through as a group making their bond stronger than simply winning a championship together.
Down in Oregon the team that was once a very promising payoff team is now a scary playoff team being lead by one of the most underrated players in the league. Coming off an All-Star worthy year last season, the Lillard lead Blazers are hungry for more.
It always amazes me how Blazers head coach Terry Stots constantly improves the offense around Lillard and McCollum. They run great PnR’s with Plumlee, Davis and Aminu who can also play dynamically and shoot from range. They always seem to get great energy from their shooters in Crabbe and Harkless who can deadly from doing the simple things while the defense is preoccupied with Lillard and McCollum.
On the other side, the Jazz are deserving of a playoff spot, and so far they seem to have a clear direction for how they want to attack this season. They’ve treated themselves to a good point guard in George Hill who is more than capable of scoring but will also keep the ball moving. If you only saw the boxscore and thought that Joe Johnson’s 29 was a typo, you need to watch the second half of this game as the rebirth of Johnson seems to have engulfed him in Salt Lake City.
Utah was missing 3 of their key pieces in this game of Hayward, Favors and Burkes which could have been a factor in this game being a possible W for the Jazz. It’s clear they missed the offense these 3 can bring and will be something to re-visit once they do finally return to the starting line-up.
I’ve finally given in to my hubris and still refuse to believe that #35 is actually Kevin Durant in a Warriors jersey. It’s become so bad that I find myself shaking my head in disbelief as soon as the Dubs take the floor… EVERYTIME!
Pre-season storyline, here we were with our first meaningful look at the Warriors and against who else but the San Antonio Spurs (thanks NBA schedule makers!).
The Warriors looked incredible during the pre-season but on their home floor on opening night that quickly turned into shaming from fan of the 31 other NBA teams. Everyone tuned in to see a great game which in almost no time at all turned into a thumping by the Spurs and ultimately making it one of the greatest games of the season so far.
The Warriors were met with an onslaught from both Kawhi Leonard and Lamarcus Aldridge along with some great contribution from gamer of the night Jonathan Simmons. The Spurs never once seemed to lose control of the game and the Warriors looked like they were still playing a pre-season game. * It’s only on game but…* the Spurs look ready to top the West and in the meantime continue to encourage Leonard to go after any award or achievement he damn well pleases.
On a bit of a hectic day of NBA action with 10 games being played, most casual fans would have been patiently waiting for the Rockets v Lakers game to begin. Well if that was you then you may have only found out later that this game was both amazing and awful.
The Nuggets are relatively the same this year and while they continue to build team chemistry and grow their young core they showed quite the fight against the Pelicans. The Nuggets survived one of the greatest stat lines in recent NBA history and did so as a team. The eye-popping figure that gave the Nuggets the W was their rebounding with 58 boards and 47 coming from the defensive side of the ball Denver was everywhere the Pelicans weren’t.
Alright, so the Pels lost the rebounding battle (eventually losing the game in the process) but they had one huge positive by the way of Anthony Davis. Davis has been injured for what seems like forever a this point, so much that it cost him millions in contract money. On the Pelicans opening night game however, Davis reminded the city and the league why we all jumped at the chance to crown him an MVP candidate just a season ago. With a 50Pt-15Rbd-5Stl statline he appeared to be unstoppable but none of that meant whole lot when only 2 other players on your entire roster cracked double figure points, 4 scored more than 2 points and 3 others scored 0.
When I saw this game on the schedule I didn’t need a second longer to decide if I was in wholeheartedly to see how this would play out.
First of all, I (Jordan) lead the charge against CC staffers Tom and Rob that James Harden would be my clear-cut MVP winner for this season, and after this game it wasn’t easy to argue. Although, with all that said, Harden’s MVP chances require he have nights like these against LA, putting up 30+ points and 10+ assists. Harden is quite capable of these accolades with his new supporting cast and they didn’t disappoint as new acquisitions Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon dropped 33 points combined.
The Lakers scoring scope was a lot wider than that of Houston’s – they shared the wealth and managed to keep up with the Rockets the whole 48 minutes. This game made it very difficult to gauge both teams when they combine for 29 turnovers each and play the equivalent of an all-star game allowing 134 points combined in the first half!
It was for this reason however that this is my pick for most entertaining game of the week, and here’s hoping that for the Lakers fans they’ll continue to see Clarkson and Russell have these types of games more often.
Theres 2 teams that the Blazers play every season that will continue to grab my attention and I don’t need to question if the game will be anything short of pure entertainment. Whenever the Clippers or Warriors roll into the Moda Center it almost always feels like a rivalry playoff game and the competition is always at its highest.
The Clippers are finally at full health to start another season and with some minor additions to the roster all systems appear to be good but whether or not that will last…. we’ll find out. CP3 and Blake gave the Clips huge games respectively, along with 15 a piece from Speights and Crawford to help give the Clippers the win. It appeared the Clippers were happy to let Damian Lillard try to win the game for the Blazers even when Harkless poured in 23 for Portland, and yet I feel like this was a big red flag for the Blazers.
Going forward, the Blazers won’t need to worry about Lillard’s offense as it will require guys like Harkless, Crabbe and Vonleh to provide the spark and scoring that will push this team higher up the Western Conference ladder and make them even more of a threat than past seasons.
This was amongst the many games played over the first weekend in the league and while its still early in the season the Raptors have a lot to prove this season. This rematch with the Cavs was a good way to kick off the Raps season and it didn’t disappoint.
DeRozan looks to be in a new mode coming into this season and if it remains consistent then not only will his contract seem reasonable, but would likely get the Raptors back in the Eastern Conference Finals. In a game that the Raptors could have won, the Cavs were too much from outside and what they gave the Raptors inside the paint – much like any Warriors statistic – the 3pt shot will do more damage.