By Chuck Araneta
After four L-O-N-G months of Lebron, Free Agency, Lockout fears, Lebron, World Championships, Lebron and so much more in between, we’re finally at the start of the NBA Season! It’s safe to say that this season is one of the most hotly anticipated ones, with so many teams raring to prove themselves as more than pretenders. We just concluded Opening Night in the NBA with three quality games on tap for us to peruse, starting with the Miami Heat taking on the Boston Celtics. If we’re gonna start this thing, it’s best to go hard!
Boston beats Miami 88-80
Nope, the world didn’t implode; Lebron and co. didn’t spank the C’s by 50 points. If anything, this opening game showed how much work they still have to put in to be even considered in the same breath as Orlando and Boston. The Celtics played solidly all throughout, with Rajon Rondo planting himself as the go-to leader on the floor for his Celtics. In the first quarter he orchestrated the Celtics attack like a maestro, setting up Shaq for two monster dunks, Ray Allen for Sweet Js and Paul Pierce for his dynamic scoring. It’s safe to say that Rondo is the puppet master for the Celtics, and they are definitely in good hands. And while Miami is now 0-1, this definitely won’t last. They’re too talented and too powerful not to put things together. And when all else fails, they can just get the ball to Lebron and follow his lead. Wade’s gotta get his mind in the game though.
Portland rallies against Phoenix 106-92
It’s going to be a tough season for Phoenix. Heck, even Steve Nash admitted as much in a recent interview. But this team has shades of that overachieving 2006 season when they lost Amare to injuries, and would gut out wins by playing together and sniping from outside. So their first game against the Portland Trailblazers was a test of how cohesive they would be without a single inside presence to dump the ball into. It worked for 3 quarters, but the offense sputtered when Portland decided to small-ball against the Suns, inserting Nicolas Batum at the 4th. And from there, Portland gave them a taste of their own medicine, hitting trey after trey to rally and grab the victory. How good did Batum look? While Brandon Roy is unquestionably their best player, he may be catching up to LaMarcus Aldridge in the hierarchy for the Blazers. And he’s making me regret passing on him in my fantasy drafts! Phoenix will battle, but that may not be enough.
Lakers come from behind and take out Houston, 112-110
All off-season, Lakers faithful were talking how great Steve Blake would be for the bench of LA. I didn’t see it, and thought he would just be a nice piece to have but would wilt under the bright LA lights. Well for one game, I was completely wrong. Teaming up with Shannon Brown (really?!?!), LA stole this one from the Rockets with some timely shooting from outside, on championship ring night. Nice way for the Lakers to grab the victory even while sleepwalking through the first three quarters. Just goes to show how much talent the defending back to back champions have. Houston also showed how talented they are, now that they have Yao back to man the middle. At least for 24 minutes. Kevin Martin and Aaron Brooks will be a headache of a backcourt (for the opposition as well as Rick Adelman given their poor defense), and Luis Scola continues to be awesome. If the Rockets can learn how to finish games strongly, they may make some noise in the Playoffs.
So that concludes Opening Night in the NBA. Tonight is gonna be awesome with so many great games lined up.
Can’t wait to get things poppin’!