The 67th NBA regular season tipped off in style last night with three great games. Finally a dramatic off-season ended and teams returned to the 82 game grind.
The first game of a triple-header was the Cleveland Cavaliers vs the Washington Wizards. However some of the sting of this game was lost due to the absence of John Wall and Nene for Washington. Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving took full advantage of this, leading all scorers with 29 points and guiding Cleveland to the win.
Rookie Dion Waiters scored 17 points in his regular season debut to go with 3 steals. The combination of Irving and Waiters looks set to be a potent one based on their performances in this game. Anderson Varejao also had a monster night, reaching career highs in rebounds and assists with 23 and 9 respectively. Cleveland has been through a tough few seasons but fans have reason for optimism watching the maturation and success of the Cavs’ young talent.
The second game of the night brought us to South-Beach and the home of the reigning NBA champion Miami Heat. After LeBron James got his first ring and the ‘11/’12 championship banner was raised to the rafters, there was the little matter of some basketball to be played.
In a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals it was the Boston Celtics that the Heat faced. Though both teams started strong the Heat put their noses in front early and never really looked back. These two teams have no love for each other, with Kevin Garnett completely snubbing former teammate Ray Allen pre-game.
Allen’s firepower was a big part of the game for the Heat and he finished with 19 points. The Celtic defence just couldn’t keep track of Miami’s arsenal of weapons. The Heat moved the ball well, finding the open shooter or cutter with some fantastic precision passing. Despite playing most of the second half without LeBron, who went to the locker room with cramps, Miami had enough firepower to comfortably account for the Celtics.
It does not bode well for the rest of the league that the Champs could comfortably put 120 points past one of the best defences in the league on opening night. Their quest to go back-to-back looks alive and well. The game finished 120-107.
The final game Tuesday night brought us to Staples centre for the regular season debut of the new-look Lakers. After going 0-8 in the pre-season the Lake-show were looking for that elusive first win as they faced the Dallas Mavericks.
The Lakers started well and were ahead after the first quarter following a 9-0 run. However the Mavericks clawed their way back into the game playing an attractive style of team basketball, sharing the ball and getting everyone involved.
Despite an overwhelming advantage in the post, where Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol sized up against Elton Brand and Brandan Wright, the Lakers could not make the most of the mismatch. The Mavs spread the ball and found the best shot available, with Howard’s frustration becoming evident following a flagrant foul on Brand in the third quarter.
The tie finished 99-91 in favour of Dallas, pushing the Lakers to a 0-9 record, including pre-season. With their talent there is no doubt the Lakers will be contenders at the business end of the season, but how long will it take them to click? And how much will their fan base tolerate?
The action continues tonight with a 9 game card.