The NBA started, on Christmas, what was an unbelievable set of games. First game. Celtics, aging yet gaining BRANDON BASS? Rondo plays like he’s on fire. Ray Allen can still drop 3’s, and BRANDON BASS? WOW. They can still play. Just don’t watch them any time on a back to back. Which will be a lot. Jajuan Johnson and Etwaun Moore will have their hands full trying to sub in throughout the back half of the season. But for reasons I can’t explain, the Celtics can still throw up points and shut down opposing offenses for long stretches of a game.
Given, the Knicks had Iman Shumpert trying to shut down Rondo, Mike Bibby and Baron Davis didn’t play and to be honest, the chemistry of the Knicks is about 10 games away where it needs to be. But if the Knicks can figure out a good combination of Davis, Bibby as the starting point guards, Toney Douglas coming off the bench and Iman Shumpert putting time in between shooting and point guard, the rest will take care of itself.
As if the world wasn’t going to end, it looks like Miami is going to have a legitimate point guard out of Norris Cole, their first round draft pick out of Cleveland State. Cleveland connection? Who knows. Do they deserve it? Of course not. Miami should not get draft picks for the next 3 years and give them to the 76ers. Lets see. Udonis Haslem is healthy. Shane Battier is one of the smartest basketball players in the league (went to Duke), Mike Miller is focused, and the Wade/James duo looks like they added a few tricks and shed a few pounds over the lockout. Go watch the workouts between James and Durant if you want an explanation for some of what happened yesterday.
Miami singlehandedly set the Mavericks about 10 games back. Which means they aren’t going to take over the West like everyone thought they should after a championship a la the Packers in the NFL.
To be fair to the Mavericks, they have one of the wildest rosters in the NBA. Vince Carter? Seriously? Lamar Odom is a legitimate 6th man, Delonte West is going to have his meddle tested unlike his time with both the Celtics and Cavaliers. He will knock down 3’s, but don’t trust him as an everyday playmaker. Shawn Marion and Brendan Haywood are getting old and Jason Terry is going to be a one trick pony by the end of the season. I trust the Mavericks to make it out of the first round of the playoffs, but they already look worn out after a ridiculous run which got them a ring last year. Scratch that if it happens to be Oklahoma City they face in the first round.
Best showcase of the day? Oklahoma City meets Orlando. Kendrick Perkins may be the scariest dude in the NBA, and despite Dwight Howard’s Iron Man physique, Kenrick ain’t taking shit from nobody. He’s calling out his own guys, namely Thabo Sefelosha, and busting up everyone from Anderson to Turkoglu. Perkins knows the show revolves around Harden, Westbrook and Durant, so he’s there to do the dirty work. Add the regular efforts of Ibaka and Maynor, the Thunder are probably the most complete team in the West.
On a side note, the Magic are going to crumble under the pressure of moving Dwight before the trade deadline. If you take Dwight off this team, you’ve got a bunch of old guys, a couple 30 something veterans and some B level talent. They need to get something big and at least a first round draft pick if they’re going to try and compete next year. Need I remind that the Knicks and the Heat both have their big 3 for the next five years in place?
The last game of the night was probably the best illustration of the next five years in the NBA. Steph Curry and Montae Ellis trying to bring David Lee and the other Warriors to the playoffs. There are no all stars besides West, but there will be 3 by the end of the year. It’s going to be tough, but the Warriors will be in the top half of the league by the efforts of Ellis and Curry alone. They’ve got a bright spot in their draft pick Thompson, and if Rush can help through the stretch they might even creep into the playoffs.
The Clippers are the most hyped team in the NBA, which is probably going to be their downfall. If either Blake Griffin or Chris Paul get hurt, it’s going to be tough to compete with the rest of West on a nightly basis. I do like Chauncey Billups splitting time with Paul to keep him healthy, or sliding into the 2 guard, but Mo Williams is going to have to prove something if he wants to see significant time. There’s too much ego to split up time evenly between the 3, but splitting Chauncey and Mo at the 2 while occasionally sliding Moe into the point on Chauncey’s nights off will help ease the transition.
I’m gonna try and watch the Nets on a nightly basis, which is good because I need something to remind me that not all basketball is good basketball. Sticking to the primetime games is probably sufficient. Even at 66 games, the season seems too long.