On The Real: NBA Week 1 Review
Posted November 08, 2008 - 07:38 AM
On The Real: NBA Week 1 Review
by Brandon Neal
A free trial subscription to NBA League Pass was only the beginning of what has turned out to be an extremely exciting NBA season. Although I collided with a blackout for my Lakers game, and a couple of others here and there, it gave me time to tune in on other games around the league, which provided me absolutely no reason to complain. Beside the fact that the Boston Celtics are still winning games, the Utah Jazz have managed to stay undefeated, and my new local team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, are playing like they did last season in Seattle, I've found that nothing is impossible in the NBA.
Who would've guessed that the San Antonio Spurs were one injury away from a complete train wreck? Their defense, which is near the bottom of the league at this point, has done little to boost their offense, and if you're a basketball fanatic, you understand that a good defense creates opportunities when the ball is in your hands, mainly because it puts the ball, well, into your hands, in desirable situations. Speaking of injuries, Tony Parker's injury only adds to the stack of problems the Spurs are facing, as if losing Manu Ginobili wasn't enough already. Without Parker and Ginobili slashing to the rim, the Spurs have to rely on Tim Duncan and their three-point shooting. Unfortunately, the many attempts they took beyond the arc against the Miami Heat did little to nothing for them, as they were embarrassed at home. Expect more of the same until the two star guards return.
Since we are discussing surprisingly bad teams, even just four or five games into the season, why not bring up the Philadelphia 76ers? Other than Thaddeus Young, who is the Sixers' leading scorer at 16.5 points per game, Philadelphia fans really have no reason to cheer. Andre Miller and Andre Iguodala are both shooting under 40 percent from the field, and Elton Brand is averaging a career low in points per game and field goal percentage (keep in mind, I don't count the eight games he played last season). If you're Maurice Cheeks, you have to ask yourself if it's a chemistry issue, a coaching deficiency, or just bad luck. After most fans predicted a top four finish in the Eastern Conference, the Sixers appear to be starting off on the wrong foot, and that's bad news for Cheeks and the players who may see their positions on the line before the new year arrives. Miller could be the odd man out, as guard Louis Williams seems to be ready to take the starting role with open arms.
The Indiana Pacers have found their leader in Danny Granger, who is playing amazing basketball so far this season. With an average of 27 points per game on 52 percent shooting, Granger's only issues are his turnovers and fouls per game. Nevertheless, after a shocking victory against the Celtics, the Pacers seem to be in good hands. TJ Ford, who was dealt to Indiana for Jermaine O'Neal, has also given the Pacers that backcourt stability they've been looking for since Reggie Miller's retirement. Indiana may have a poor record, but after playing the Detroit Pistons, Celtics, Phoenix Suns and the Cleveland Cavaliers in their four games, it's no wonder they are sitting at the bottom of the Central Division.
The rookies have done well. Offensively, Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley and OJ Mayo seem to be the three most impressive, while Mario Chalmers has stolen a starting role with the Miami Heat by his quick hands and the ability to intercept passes. Kevin Love, Marc Gasol and Jason Thompson are three big men who are giving their teams reason to slide them into the starting fives, the three having similar numbers for scoring and rebounds, with the addition of an impressive percentage from the floor.
The biggest surprise of the week was the Allen Iverson trade. I suppose we knew it was coming sooner or later, but my guess was that it would happen sometime between January and February, and the Denver Nuggets would settle for an offensive-minded, fast break point guard who played as much defense as Carmelo Anthony does. Instead, they rake in Chauncey Billups, a player who not only has a Finals MVP award, but also likes the fact that defense is an important element of winning in professional basketball. For Denver, this couldn't have been any better, but what about the benefits for Detroit? It wasn't evident in Iverson's debut versus the Nets, but his ability to score at will can put the Pistons over the top against teams like the Cavaliers and the Sixers, who have no way of defending Iverson on the perimeter. In fact, in three career games against Boston's Rajon Rondo, Allen Iverson is averaging 26 points per game almost nine assists, and two and a half steals, while shooting 45 percent from the floor. The Celtics might try avoiding Detroit in the playoffs this season.
Overall, the NBA season couldn't have started any better, minus the injuries. As always, progression leads to fatigue, rookies are separated from the veterans, and only the strongest survive, but with just one week completed, players and teams have been under the microscope, showcasing their talents and drawing interest from NBA fans spanning the globe. If your daily dose of NBA action is currently limited to what you watch on your television, try joining a message board, visiting plenty of NBA news sites, or even purchasing tickets to see a game or two. Whichever way you define yourself as a true fan, be sure to continue watching the season as much as possible -- if you slack off, you might just get crossed and left behind.
Posted November 08, 2008 - 10:24 AM
No love for Toronto?
Edited by L.A.K.E.R, November 08, 2008 - 10:25 AM.
Posted November 08, 2008 - 10:26 AM
Posted November 08, 2008 - 11:39 AM
The Spurs are probably the biggest surprise for me this season. Their calling card for practically the last decade has been that no matter what happens they always manage to find a way to suck it up and get through the tough times. Seeing them get dismantled like this is almost surreal. I can't imagine them playing at this level for very long though. Who knows though, maybe this is the year that the Spurs fall of the face of the title contender planet.
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