Basketball is Back!
Gosh its been awhile. I didn’t even realize how much I’d missed it until Ernie, Kenny, and Shaq started ripping on Charles Barkley for a totally normal pair of glasses he’d chosen to wear, calling them “lenses to the future”. That and Poppovich stumping what must be his 1000th on-court interviewer, causing the guy to break out into the kind of nervous laughter that usually precedes some kind of mental breakdown. Words can’t even express how much I’ve missed this.
Opening night featured three games. Like any red-blooded American I chose to watch the defending champs take on their in-state rival Mavericks over the Magic-Pelicans contest happening at the same time (The Spurs were also on cable).
Dallas Mavericks vs. San Antonio Spurs
First of all, great game. The Mavericks really looked like they got the most out of the offseason. Chandler looked like his old self, batting out long offensive rebounds, trying to destroy the glass on pick-and-roll finishes, and playing with a ton of heart. Chandler Parsons had a rough shooting night but did slam home a huge dunk in the first quarter. What I really liked about this team, though, is the second unit. It features a lot of weird, hybrid guys like Jae Crowder and Richard Jefferson who can lock down a couple of positions defensively and inject some nice energy. Devin Harris also had a nice game and hit a couple of HUGE shots backing up Jameer Nelson. (Raymond Felton sadly did not play. I felt bad when I realized he was on this team and Tyson once again has to share the bench with Ramie).
Unfortunately the Spurs are the Spurs. Even without Kawhi Leonard and down 8 at the half, these guys came out SHOOTING. I think how a team plays in the 3rd quarter is a huge reflection on their coaching. The coach has to be both a motivational force and the guy to make defensive/lineup adjustments. Even against someone as good as Rick Carlisle, its easy enough to see that Poppovich is still the grandmaster. Manu had a big game. Tony Parker went 100% from deep and they came away with this game.
It was pretty close down the stretch, though. Especially after Tim Duncan maybe-flopped on an accidental smack from Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki got the foul and got FIRED up. Seriously, never seen this guy that chippy. He started knocking down his Dirk step-backs and brought the Mavs to within one down the stretch. But then he inexplicably passed up the last look of the game to hit Parsons with a cross-court pass so the new Mav could miss the game-sealing 3. Champs stay da champs.
Orlando Magic vs. New Orleans Pelicans
During the interval between the TNT double-header I took a minute to check out the boxscore from the game I’d missed. Me scrolling down. “Oooh Tobias Harris 25 points nice.” “WOW VUCEVIC HAD 23 REBOUNDS!!” and then I got to the Pelicans.
Anthony Davis stat line: 26 points. 17 rebounds. 9 blocks (!!). 2 assists. 3 steals. 0 turnovers.
I. Can’t. Even.
Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Ahhh the Dwight-Kobe reunion game. The Kobe coming out party. The… oh god this was an ugly one.
After watching this, I became convinced of one thing. The Lakers are going to be reeeal bad this season. While I was anticipating this, I thought their on-court drama would make them at least entertaining to watch. Couldn’t even finish this one. I watched long enough for the inevitable confrontation (Kobe calling Dwight “Soft”.) and turned this the fuck off.
The Lakers look as garbage defensively as we all thought, especially because the Rockets last night resembled a one trick pony with Harden taking the whole scoring load upon himself. Carlos Boozer (WATCH THAT ONE!!) got the start over the actually surprisingly good Ed Davis and their lottery pick Julius Randle. Poor Randle, by the way. Watching him play I remarked that he seemed invisible on the court, making basically no impact on the game. Then he broke his leg, is out for the season, and I felt like a monster. Lin was underwhelming, Swaggy P didn’t play, and Kobe got his points but showed us “It ain’t gonna be enough”. Rough season comin’ up.