The West has been set for few the last week now and there are a whole lot of storylines going on the West that will make for some great playoff meetings. With the Warriors boasting their All-Star, Olympic, Duel-MVP starting 5 is there a team that will be able to knock them off?
The NBA season has finished and at least for the Eastern Conference it took all 82 games to decide the fate of the 7th and 8th seed. With that now finalised, it’s time to look ahead to the Playoffs and try to predict even though history will continue to prove that we really don’t know what can happen. This year more than any other, the East has begun to feel less and less predictable posing the question – are we starting to see a new generation of teams on the rise?
Week 1 provided some great scoring performances and had us wondering who had entered this season with a new purpose. As we regathered ourselves from the opening week hangover, some teams dropped games while others started gaining some traction.
The second week of the NBA lead with the Golden State Warriors having an overwhelming week of games as well as media coverage that stayed at the forefront for most of the week. However, there were some other teams that deserved to be mentioned with some notable games that captured our attention.
Jazz – 106 | Spurs – 91
Just when you thought the Spurs looked to be ready to go on a run on the league, the Hayward-less Jazz stepped up to the plate and handed the Spurs their first loss and it just happened to be on San Antonio’s home floor.
By the end of the first quarter the Jazz had run up a 10+ point lead on the Spurs and didn’t look to be letting that go anytime soon. Utah gained the lead thanks in part to some very solid 3 point shooting, something that if the Jazz can find some consistency in will make them a threat as the 3 point shot becomes more and more valuable. The Spurs had a different idea as the second quarter started, dashing Utah’s lead of 15 at one point in such quick fashion that it had Patty Mills trying to break the hardwood with his towel.
The last 5 minutes was something that I hope the Jazz continue and should even increase their success once Hayward is included back into the starting line-up. It was their unselfishness and finding the best shot available, and making the shots they found. George Hill kicked it off for the Jazz and eventually with things going so well a Trey Lyles 3 pointer made an appearance. The execution that the Jazz displayed throughout this game looks very smooth for a team that has gained a few new addition, and it is because these additions of Hill and Johnson that they don’t need time to fit into the Utah system.
Warriors – 127 | Blazers – 104
After a win over the Suns and Pelicans coming off of their embarrassing loss to the Spurs the Warriors had the Blazers in their sights as one of the better teams they’ll face this year.
This game had the expectations of a close game and as far as analysis goes, it was anything but that. The Dubs looked reasonably calm from the start and something that stole the show was the Warriors bench and a little bit of crazy Steph shooting. One player that stepped up for the Warriors was back-up point guard Ian Clark who dropped in 22 points from the bench and was seemingly everywhere for Golden State.
On the Blazers side of the ball, they just let the game slip too quickly, as they kept the game close for the most part of 3 quarters, by the time the 4th quarter started the Warriors had begun their margin of separation. One of the biggest “lightning in a bottle” moments was Blazers rookie Jake Layman who stepped into garbage time and dropped 5-7 from three and in just an 8 minute span tallied 17 points. So who is this Jake Layman guy!
Suns – 118 | Blazers – 115
Taking my early vote for the best back and forth, bucket-trading game of the season was the Suns defending homecourt against a pissed off Blazers team who were coming off a loss at the hands of the super-team of Oakland.
It was quite a shock to see just how much better the Suns have been this year with a huge improvement from TJ Warren and guards Bledsoe and Knight. The team still seems to be finding offensive cohesiveness, but in the meantime they can still crush poor transition defensive teams, which caught the Blazers a few times here and there.
In a huge “monkey off my back” moment Brandon Knight threw down a momentum shifting dunk that may have slightly removed him from the NBA doghouse – but who are we kidding, even Brandon knows he’s never going to shake off the run of lowlights he accumulated over the last few years.
I was actually watching this game as it happened and the ending was so worth it, after PJ Tucker got gifted a trip to the line he missed his second free throw to win the game and couldn’t have set it up any better. I was anticipating a Dame Time moment – ok I’ll admit I had some money on the game – but nonetheless it was all set up for the moment.
Well that moment never came and as Lillard fumbled the ball the Suns went back to the other end producing a Bledsoe running banked layup. As I sank into my seat realising it was all too late the man named Meyers answered my prayers.
Overtime was a whole ‘nother beast and that beast was Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe contributed almost half of the OT point scoring and they were the most important 7 Phoenix could have asked for. The Suns have something cooking and what I once thought was a team full of guards, it seems now that the roles have been assigned and everyone knows what their role is on the team.
Warriors – 122 | Thunder – 96
The game that everyone was waiting for in Week 2 arrived with no shortage of media coverage and speculation of what team would do what and who would shake whose hand.
Westbrook’s photography vest shade throwing aside, The Thunder entered the game hot with a 4 game winning streak with the only noticeable win over an oddly distracted Clipper team the previous night.
The game kicks off and the Thunder kick off with great energy getting a headstart on the Warriors by a few points here and there. Almost instantly the team was being questioned and Russ was being elected as the most energetic and hungry player on the floor. By the end of the first we actually had a game, a Jeremy Grant dunk on Durant and a block by Westbrook good enough for a Sportscenter top 10 highlight.
Their were 2 possibilities to how the Warriors came out for the second quarter – either somebody gave transcripts of the hot-takes being given across twitter and halftime shows or Kevin Durant made it his goal to destroy the Thunder’s chances and every other Warrior just followed in his footsteps. It seems that whatever it was Durant made it his mission to get the W before heading back to OKC where I’m at least hoping for a more fired up Thunder team.
Knicks- 117 | Bulls – 104
The Bulls hosted the Knicks in spectacular fashion as longtime Bulls Noah and Rose returned to the place that they managed to build back in 2010 but then struggled to maintain for the years following. That struggle was evident as the fans rained down on Rose as he was introduced with a mix of cheers and boo’s.
As for the game, Rose looked to be in his element, in fact, all the Knicks seemed to be playing extremely well almost as if they finally had a purpose to be competitive. It was exciting to hear Noah audibly screaming at every move to the hoop by his teammates which is something that him a Carlos Boozer should be reunited just to keep me entertained and locked into a Knicks game.
Honestly speaking, even with the loss the Knicks seemed to have the inability to stop Dwyane Wade as he got anywhere he wanted and showed off the type of shooting that will have you rubbing your eyes to make sure you’re not seeing someone else.
My biggest take away from this game – GIVE PORZINGIS THE BALL!. The Latvian phenom was everywhere and it’s crazy to see someone his size, with his skill set not being exploited more in the Knicks offense.
Lakers – 117 | Warriors – 97
Before I even mention the game, we must take a second to acknowledge the Lakers throwback uniforms that they chose to bust out on the ESPN game night. The Lakers went all the way back on these ones and in a way I’d like to think it gave the young Laker team a little more juice that night.
Theres no analysis or detailed breakdown for this one unfortunately, but it had the feeling of a Warriors team that was starting to get rolling and a Laker team that was still getting things in place. I’m not sure what it is about Lakers games, but this is now the second time that the Warriors have been upset by a young and fairly inexperienced Laker.
A lot of Laker fans on twitter throughout the game were quick to appoint Luke Walton the “real coach of the Warriors” making jabs at Kerr during his time spent away from the team when Luke assumed the interim spot. Honestly, it was getting hard to argue the point after seeing the baby Lakers producing great ball movement, cutting, screening which were all things that we see the Warriors do to this day.
With all that said however, this was not the reason the Warriors lost this game.
The Dubs lost this game on multiple defensive lapses, poor rebounding and one giant shooting slump that plagued both Klay Thompson and Steph Curry. Thompson hasn’t really looked right to start the season, and this game was no different as the Warriors continued to try to find the 3 point shot but to no avail. The single slump was so bad that it broke Steph Curry’s streak of 3 point field goals in consecutive games of 157!
Call it what you want, perhaps the Lakers got a break and compounded that with great play and the Warriors simply had an off night. Either way everyone should panic as we watch the super-team go down in flames.
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.
With free agency wrapping up this past week, there were two important figures in the NBA that are now apart of different stories solely focused on the formation of what is now termed as the modern day NBA “Super-team”.