The season is now upon us and this can mean only one thing, it’s time to overreact. If we are being honest with ourselves, we know that there is not much to be taken of value from the opening games. It’s a good thing I shirk honesty at every possible turn, since it makes me the perfect person to overreact to the opening season games.
Opening Night Reactions:
1. Derrick Rose’s knee looks good.
Physically he looks to be back at 100%, but still has to get back to game shape mentally. When he decided to take it to the basket he was unstoppable last night, but very often he saw that Miami was blitzing the screen and didn’t even bother to probe the defense before passing it up. With the Bull’s personnel, Rose is going to need to be constantly attacking if they want to win a high scoring game. Last year the Bulls were great when they could turn the game into a brawl, but when the game sped up they were liable to get blown out. If they are to live up to their championship aspirations, they need to learn to compete in games out of their comfort zone, to do that they need an aggressive, attacking Rose.
2. Jacque Vaughn does not believe in the hot hand principal
Going into halftime the Magic were leading a game against an elite eastern conference power, only a year removed from gutting their team after Dwight wanted out. Their first round draft pick from the post Dwight draft, Andrew Nicholson, had 18 points at the half. Nicholson was absolutely on fire. So Vaughn did the only rational thing and sat him on the bench for the entire 3rd quarter. Of course they lost as they struggled to score in the second half, taking a lot of contested shots that lead to Pacers transition opportunities. Hopefully as the season goes on Vaughn will misplace the bucket of water he used to squelch Nicholson’s fire.
3. The Heat are still the best
When the Heat are on top of their game, they are the most disruptive defensive force that the league has seen in a while. They make trapping off of pick and rolls an art form. If they are engaged other teams really have a hard time scoring. Combine that defense with good 3 point shooting, a number of high percentage opportunities in transition and the Heat are still the most dominant force in the league.
4. Kobe Bryant might kill Nick Young
With Kobe Bryant out, the Lakers had a huge void on their team. During the offseason, everyone was wondering what the Lakers would do without a shooting guard that takes ill advised shots that ruin the flow of the offense. Luckily for the Lakers Nick “Swaggy P” Young, got signed just in time to take up this mantle. After Swaggy P hit a few shots early, he felt that his normal run of the mill terrible fade aways weren’t enough, so he stepped up his game and bricked turnaround fadeaways instead. While this was happening Kobe could be seen on the bench shaking his head. Apparently Kobe’s own medicine does not taste good.
5. The Clippers could struggle early
Doc River’s defensive scheme depends on every player on his team playing defense on a string, a cohesive unit that is more a team than a collection of 5 players. Every year the Celtics added players to their rotation it would throw off their defense as a whole for the early part of the season (except for 2007). Their defense will take time to come together in the meantime you will see more offensively challenged teams score 116 on them like the Laker’s did last night. In the short term this is a terrible thing for the Clippers, in the long term Doc will change a team focused on highlights and youtube videos into one that smothers opponents with their defense. This brand of smothering defense should lead to even more transition opportunities than last year, which will make Lob City even more potent, it will just take time.