The opening night of the NBA season didn’t disappoint. The Cleveland Cavaliers lost a close game to the Chicago Bulls when Pau Gasol blocked a LeBron James layup. James who has been struggling with back issues to start the season looked less than 100%.
The Bulls, on their part, unveiled a new offense where Nikola Mirotic starts and Joakim Noah is on the bench. Mirotic is averaging 19 points on the season and gives the Bulls a lot of offensive punch yet is an average defender. The Bulls second unit is pretty dominant defensively with Noah and Taj Gibson as the anchors.
The following night the Cavaliers played Memphis and throttled them. Kevin Love was the best player on the floor. He did it all. He scored, he rebounded, he passed out of double teams and found cutters in the lane. He played solid defense. His aggression is pushing the Cavs into wins and makes up for James inability to be that all around dominant player.
Love’s numbers so far are MVP worthy: 19 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists. Love continued to be Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Love on Friday when the Cavs manhandled the Heat, mostly because they had no answer for Kevin Love. This is a vast turnaround from last year when Love was camped out on the three point line and looked lost. For the shot term, the Cavs offense is going through Love. It is working so it won’t be changed anytime soon.
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It was one thing for the media not to think Steph Curry would repeat as MVP. It was quite another for Curry to not even be included as a candidate. Rebuffed, Curry took his anger out on the court. Because a couple dozen media members chose Anthony Davis for MVP Curry torched the Pelicans on opening night, having a dazzling first quarter on route to 40 points. He played Davis’ team again Saturday night and for an encore Curry dropped 53 and had a scintillating third quarter.
Unequivocally, the MVP award is Curry’s to lose. He is in the lead, way out in front of the pack. All the doubters who thought he was a one time thing because LeBron and Durant were having off years have been schooled in Curry-speak. There is no NBA defender who can stop him. The only thing that will keep him from not repeating is if the Warriors somehow fall off. Does anyone see that happening?
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It’s hard to imagine Kevin Durant leaving Russell Westbrook. In 4th quarter of games, they find a way to get the impossible done, to twist defeat into victory, to make amazing shot after amazing shot and when they need the impossible, it happens. Such was the case against Orlando when the Thunder were down late in the game by three. Durant hit a three for the tie. The Magic answered back. They hit a three, courtesy of Victory Oladipo. No worries. Westbrook hit a 40 footer to send the game into overtime.
In overtime number one, Westbrook hit what was supposed to be the game winner with seven seconds left. Oladipo then tied it with another three. The second overtime, the Thunder pulled away. Westbrook ended the game with 48 points, Durant had 43. He credited the game. Durant is still working his way back and was appreciative of that level of intensity.
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Lamar Odom is out of the daily news cycle because his care has transitioned into long term physical therapy. He is no longer in ICU but on the physical therapy floor at Cedars Sinai. He has regained use of his kidneys and is no longer in need of dialysis. His medical team is watchful for signs of brain damage as he relearns to walk and to talk, undergoing the grueling process of regaining muscle strength and motor skills. Doctors caution that Odom is very far away from being what he used to be. Therapy will be take months. But he is handling all of his medical decisions now that he is alert. It is a miracle, considering the scope of his overdose.
Odom’s on-again, off-again wife, Khloe Kardashian, left his bedside to watch her boyfriend, James Harden play his season opener. The game against the Nuggets, who aren’t going to make the playoffs, was a disaster for Harden who has been horrible to begin the season. The Rockets are 0-3. Harden has contributed to their dreadful start by not making shots. Harden is shooting 22%, a hellish number that makes him the worst shooting guard in the league, worse than an old and tired Kobe Bryant.
The Rockets can’t linger in purgatory for much longer. The Western Conference is competitive and a grind. Losing games in a row because you can’t score only ratchets up the pressure to not fall too far behind the pack. Harden, was the MVP runner-up last year but this year he looks no better and no worse than the eighth man in the rotation. He better get it together quick.
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Thabo Sefolosha was back in Manhattan. It was the first time being in the city since his trial ended and it naturally evoked memories when he was attacked and beaten by the NYPD. Sefolosha is suing the NYPD and the city of New York for injuries he suffered in the attack.
In town to play the Knicks, Sefolsoha didn’t suit up. He has fully recovered from his injuries but the Hawks kept him out of the game on purpose for cautionary reasons. The game was one the Hawks won easily.
Beforehand, Sefolosha could not avoid questions about the lawsuit. Sefolosha stressed he didn’t think all cops were bad but he also wanted to change policy so what happened to him wouldn’t happen to anyone else. And in regards to what happened to him, Sefolosha admitted to sleepless nights and pain and anguish. The NYPD and the city of New York need to be held accountable, he stressed. Cops need to learn the right way to communicate with citizens.
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Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner, has decided to keep Hack-A-Shaq around. Silver acknowledges how ugly it makes the game seem. But, the strategy is only used on two players, Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan, so in effect policy would be created for two teams who have the misfortune of having abysmal free throw shooters. Besides, the G.M.’s love the strategy because it works. Bad free throw shooters miss. That helps the fouling team.
Silver admitted he had been in contact with coaches all over the world who begged him not to get rid of Hack-A-Shaq. Kids learning the game have to realize free throw shooting is part of being a player. If you want to be a quality athlete you have to make your free throws.
All the complaining about Hack-A-Shaq doesn’t change behavior. The television ratings reveal that even though the public complains about Hack-A-Shaq they don’t turn the telelvision off or change the station. So cover your eyes. Hack-A-Shaq is here to stay.
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Mark Cuban got in a bunch of free shots at the expense of the Clippers this week. The Mavs were in town to play the good L.A.team and Cuban went off on the Clippers…again. It’s his personal DeAndre Jordan feud and it still stings so he wastes little opportunity to slam the organization. But at the same time he’s not fooling anyone when he says the Mavericks got the better end of the deal by DeAndre Jordan not coming to Dallas. So untrue.
It’s okay that Cuban is bitter. It’s his team so he can be pissed about how it all broke apart this summer. Cuban was rejected and he can’t get over it and he’ll bang this drum everytime the Clippers and Mavs play each other which will be next week. So get used to bitter Mark Cuban.
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Western Conference Teams: 24-20
Eastern Conference Teams: 21-25
photo via llananba