On Your Mark… Set.. Go!
November 7, 2012
The start of one the most anticipated NBA regular seasons ever, has been as good as advertised. The elite teams have been vulnerable to start. The Lakers have lacked chemistry and limped to a 1-4 start (0-2 at Home). The Heat ran the Celtics out the gym on ring night in Miami, then got rocked in the Garden, surrendering 19 3’s in a 20 point loss to the Knicks. OKC has turned the ball over a ton, and lacked defensive intensity in the backcourt. They seem to miss Harden’s playmaking abilities (Who is BALLIN’ for the Rockets by the way).
Kobe has been efficient scoring 25 ppg including a 40 point outburst against the Clippers. Dwight Howard doesn’t look 100%, but has shown flashes of brilliance, but hasn’t fully returned to his DPOY level. He seems to lack the elite athleticism that has helped him dominate the league for years. Despite not being fully recovered from offseason back surgery, Howard has still managed to average a career best 23.3 ppg. Steve Nash has had a rough start in LA. He is averaging a pedestrian 4 and 4 and will miss 4 weeks due to a small fracture in his leg. The Lakers “Princeton offense” has looked out of whack at times, but the defense has been a concern. Teams are exploiting LA’s lack of quickness, and the Lakers haven’t found many answers. They gave up 116 to Portland and 105 to the Clippers. Despite the boat loads of talent, the Lakers have a lot of work to do this season.
The defending champion Miami Heat seem ready to win again with free agent pick ups Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis in the fold. This season will present new and difficult challenges, as the Heat have found out early. There have been moments when this team has looked unstoppable like their opening night win against the Celtics. The Heat are at their best when they are causing turnovers and racking up transition buckets. Ray Allen has produced well for Miami off the bench so far this year. His production has helped them tremendously In the Heat’s 4 wins Allen has averaged 19 ppg, in their lone loss he had 5 points. Miami will surely get everyone’s best shot this year, so they must continue to improve if they want to win back to back titles.
The Thunder have been up and down to begin the 2012 season. Durant has turned the ball over too much (5+ turnovers pg), and Westbrook has been been streaky to say the least (38% on FGs). Kevin Martin, who was acquired in the Harden trade, has had no problem scoring for OKC. He has averaged 19 ppg and shooting 51% from the field. Despite being a little careless with the ball, Durant is averaging a career best 12 rebounds pg. This young OKC team will definitely miss Harden’s playmaking ability, but with elite talents like Westbrook and Durant I’m sure that by the end of the regular season this team will be ready for another deep playoff run.
In addition to the elite teams experiencing a few hiccups to start the season, there have also been a few other surprises The New York Knicks are 3-0 and haven’t seemed to miss Amar’e Stoudemire who is out 8 weeks with a knee injury. Carmelo Anthony has carried the team, averaging 26 and 7. New York has also received key contributions from veterans like Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas, and Rasheed Wallace. Led by 2nd year head coach Mark Jackson, the Golden State Warriors are tied for 1st atop the Pacific Division at 3-2. They have played solid defense and shared the ball. They have allowed over 100 points once this year and have 4 players that average double digits in scoring. The Dallas Mavericks have also turned some heads and have a 4-1 start to the year. Despite missing their All Star Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs have played well with a sound group of veterans. All 5 starters are scoring 10+ pg, lead by OJ Mayo who is averaging 21 ppg. Once Dirk gets healthy again, this team could be a legit contender.
The NBA is back, and certainly won’t disappoint as the season progresses. The West Conference is as deep as ever, and there will be several teams fighting to reach the Finals. In the East, the Heat can’t dwell on the past, as teams like the Knicks, Celtics, and the 76ers will give Miami all that they can handle. After a fast and furious start to the NBA season, basketball will surely have my full attention as the year moves forward.