They rolled in. At a pace that mortals should not be able...
NBA Kickoff! Which Opening-Night Loss Was Most Damning?
You might think this premise is faulty. If so, you might be correct. Three total games have been played so far in the entire league. But I don’t think you have to watch a team for very long to get a “read” on them. Looking at the big-picture, Tuesday night’s games gave us all the information we have thus far. For three teams, that information is not good. How they take that information and improve will decide their respective seasons.
Cleveland 94 , Wahington 84
Let’s start off with the worst two teams that played on Tuesday night. While Kyrie Iring looks like a star in the making, John Wall didn’t play for the Wizards (out for about a month with a knee injury). The Wizards have made some really head-scratching moves in the offseason, leaving Wall as really their only reliable player. Irving scored 29 for the Cavs and nobody scored more than 11 for the Wiz.
Looking at the Cavs nucleus, including Irving, rookie Dion Waiters, and second-year forward Tristan Thompson, they are actually poised to be a lot beter this year than last. Veterans C.J. Miles and Daniel Gibson anchor a young bench that could help the Cavs to at least 10 more wins than the 21 they managed last season.
The Wizards, well…. it’s going to be a while before they see the 30 win mark again. Any loss for Washington is no surprise, but realizing that you are definitely not as good as Cleveland has to be a real downer for Wiz fans on Day one of the season.
Miami 120, Boston 107
Miami has come into their own. They look like a team that could win “not one, not two. not three, etc…” rings. LeBron James played under 30 minutes and still managed a double-double (26 points, 10 rebounds) in a blowout win over the team that is tabbed to be the Heat’s biggest Eastern Conference rival this year.
It will be important for Miami to limit James’ and Dwayne Wade’s minutes as much as possible on the heels of a very short offseason, but if Tuesday night’s game is any indication, that shouldn’t be an issue. The loss is potentially crushing for Boston and their fans. There will be other chances to beat Miami, but the Heat, on a night they received their championship rings, sent a message to the Celtics and the rest of the league: The title still goes through Miami.Dallas 99, Lakers 91
OK, so there isn’t really a question. Nationally, this was the biggest disappointment. The headline on Yaho0! Sports called it a “flop.” After scoring 29 points in the first quarter, the Lakers managed only 37 points in the next two combined. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle made the adjustments a championship coach makes and Dallas was able to largely shut-down new Lakers additions Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.
Howard had 19 points and 10 rebounds, but shot his free throws worse than Shaq, making only 3 of 14 free-throws in the 8-point loss. I wonder how his back has impacted his ability to shoot free throws in the offseason… Howard missed his first dunk too. It was pretty much uncontested. I wonder how often a healthy Howard has had that happen too.
For a team whose fans are expecting the world this season, it was an inauspicious debut. This year’s Lake-Show is winless in the preseason and regular season – ’bout nine games, and counting. If you are going to win 55 games, as “experts” have predicted for the Lakers, then losing to a Dirk-less Mavs team at home is probably not going to get you there. With four stars on a particular roster, expectations are through the roof. One has to wonder what the threshold for is for Mike Brown’s seat to start warming-up.
Dallas, a team that many experts tabbed to finish with a win total in the mid-30′s, showed that their roster isn’t THAT bad, even without the injured Dirk Nowitzki. With eclectic additions of Elton Brand, OJ Mayo, and Darren Collison, the Mavs have guys who know how to play the game and who will buy-in to the established system of their championship coach. The underrated Collison, who learned under Chris Paul in New Orleans and was a big part of Indiana’s success last season, is a flat-out winner. Dallas is better than people think this season. They’ll be over .500 and in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Lakers are still struggling to find their identity. They better hurry-up. Lakers fans are not a patient bunch.