On an evening when there is a coronation of Lebron James and his 2012 championship teammates, it was bound to be an opening night to remember. But that was not the only compelling factor. Ray Allen would be playing against his former team, the Boston Celtics, who were seeking to get revenge for losing in the Eastern Conference Finals. The newly revamped Lakers would play the Mavericks, who were banged up at the big man spot. But the starting unit for the Lakers alone would draw the attention of millions. Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers also took on the Wizards, who were missing there two best players, John Wall and Nene, to injury.
Celtic vs. Heat
Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee got the start. Lebron started at the 4, a possible preview at what to expect in the playoffs. Bosh started at the 5, which should create great spacing all season. Bass guarded Battier(which should be an interesting matchup if these two teams meet in the playoffs considering Battier’s corner 3 prowess) and Pierce was stuck on James.
From the get-go the Heat defense looked spry, fast, and energized. The rotations were crisp as always, resulting in a couple of blocks on the game’s first possession.
Miami’s defense seemed to bother KG, as he turned the ball over, committed a couple fouls, and missed some usually routine shots.
Courtney Lee, a key pickup by Boston in the offseason, looked very good. He hounded Dwyane Wade early on defense, forcing Wade into contested shots. Wade seemed to figure it out as Lee went to the bench. His teammate, Jason Terry, looked a bit lost early on, committing a couple of turnovers. He managed to shoot 2-4 in the first half, however.
Ray Allen looked like he had being playing with the Heat for years. He made three field goals, including two three points (both at the end of the shot clock) in the first half, finishing with 19. If Allen can continue to give the Heat quality minutes(31 tonight) like this, the Heat would be very, very dangerous.
The Celtics were very sloppy with the ball in the first half, committing 10 turnovers in the first half. The Heat only had 5 in the first half.
I watched to see how Lebron operates in the post. On his first trip down there, with Pierce guarding him, he drove and drew a foul. He looks very comfortable as opposed to seasons of past. This, I believe, is the single most important factor when potentially going against the likes of the Lakers, Thunder in the playoffs.
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh looked like their usual selves. Rajon Rondo looked stronger, finishing on drives with contact. Jeff Green looked semi-aggressive and semi-tentative.
Jared Sullinger did some good things but his lack of athleticism showed a bit given Miami’s athletes. Rashard Lewis certainly benefited from the attacking styles of Lebron and Dwyane Wade, shooting and making a couple of open shots.
In the second half, the Celtics struggled. Leaondro Barbosa added some quick 9 points and was one of the bright spots for the Celtics, but the Heat are too overbearing. They shredded the Celtics defense with passes inside for easy Dunks.
The Celtics were visibly upset proven by a technical on Rondo and a hard fouls delivered by KG.
Wade was able to get much easier buckets in the 2nd half.
After Lebron went to the locker room( for the second time in the game), the Heat struggled mightily to keep the lead. Lebron is the Most Valuable Player, indeed.
But like all championship teams, the Heat are more than just one player, holding on to beat the celtics 120 to 107.
Lakers vs. Mavericks
With Chris Kaman and Dirk Nowitzki out due to injury, Elton Brand and Brandon Wright filled in. It was easy to assume that Pau and Howard would have a field day. But the NBA isn’t that simple, given Brand’s and Wright’s competency. Oj Mayo guarding Kobe would also provide some intrigue.
On the first possession, the Lakers defense looked stout, closing off all holes in the Mavericks attack. I can’t read too much into it though with two starters injured.
Kobe scored easily when he was off the ball; one, of a cut, and the other from a handoff. With this much talent around Kobe, there is no reason to be doing herky-jerky, flim-flam that he usually does. It was amazing that he looked so on point given the fact that he was out all week nursing a sore foot.
Howard looked as though he hasn’t missed a beat, as he was on the receiving end of many of Pau’s entry passes. Teams are going to rack up fouls trying to prevent him from dunking. The Princeton sets were often initiated by Pau. Nash looked good, connecting on his first couple shots.
Oj Mayo (OJAM) was ballin’ to begin the game. He didn’t care who was guarding him. It will be very vital for Mayo to step up his play with Jason Terry gone. Eddy Curry can be very effective if he simply uses his size to pin his defender. I truly believe that he should work out with Shaq in the summer.
The Lakers bench looked surprisingly in tune at times but out of sync during others.
Dallas’ role players provided much of the scoring punch to put the Mavs up 48-46 at the half. Given the talent the Lakers have, there is no excuse for them to only have a two point lead on an injury riddled Mavs team. None. To shoot 55% and still be down speaks more to the Mavericks resiliency than Laker mishaps.
Coming out of halftime, the Lakers looked more formDwight Howard down low. He was fouled but didn’t capitalize on his free throws. This aspect of his game needs to I prove so that the Lakers can be better in crunch time.
The Mavs picked up from where they left off with Darren Collision making buckets and pushing the ball. Oj Mayo played some solid defense on Kobe to no avail.
Dwight Howard became frustrated resulting in a flagrant. Howard must remain calm during the season. The bigs for the Mavs are a feisty bunch and showed no fear of the heralded Lakers bigs. His back and jello legs seemed to be limiting his normally excellent mobility on the court.
The Mavs played very well and very consistent. They stuck to the game plan and executed by committee.
The Lakers’ defensive rotations looked very slow. The Mavs’ ball movement was splendid and caught LA off guards often.
The Mavs deserved to win tonight, and did.
I caught a bit of this game but not much.
Brad Beal and Dion Waiters looked very solid.
Anderson Varajao is a work horse, always playing hard.
Kyrie Irving looked like uncle drew out on the floor. I am not the least bit surprised at his success. I saw it coming going back to his days at St. Patrick’s. He has the perfect blend of athleticism, grace, and guile.
The cavs beat the wizards 94-84.