October 29, 2009
We got just a teaser on Tuesday – Wednesday night brought us the first full slate of NBA games for the 2009-10 season, with 24 teams in action. There was no shortage of bulletable info, so let's get to it.
• When a team struggles against the Celtics, you chalk it up to good defense. When a team struggles against the Raptors, you wonder what's wrong. Two games in and the Cavs' offense is struggling – Wednesday it was a 101-91 loss in Toronto. LeBron James(notes) logged a triple-double (23 points, 11 boards, 12 assists), but that was the extent of the superlatives for Cleveland. And after two games, LeBron and Shaq have combined to shoot 47 percent (30/64) while the rest of the team has shot 34 percent (31/91). Shaq's quote after the game was "It's going to be a work in progress." Thanks for the heads up, big guy.
• A very tidy offensive line from Andrea Bargnani(notes) on Wednesday: 28 points on 11-of-15 shooting, with two threes and 4-of-4 foul shots. The five boards, one steal, and one block are gravy on a night when it's falling like that for him.
• Marreese Speights(notes) took advantage of Samuel Dalembert's(notes) foul trouble (five in 16 min) in a blowout loss to the Magic to the tune of 26 points on 10-of-11 shooting. Andre Iguodala(notes) (27 minutes), Elton Brand(notes) (25 minutes), and Thaddeus Young(notes) (27 minutes) saw plenty of pine in a game that featured a 23-point differential at halftime. Speights was also productive in the preseason – Dalembert and Brand were not – and the second-year pro should be getting a look from fantasy owners in need of some big-man stats, but consistency won't be a given for as long as he's a reserve.
• What a great way to start the season for Josh Smith(notes) (18 points, 8 assists, 5 steals, 2 blocks) and Al Horford(notes) (24 points, 16 boards, 4 assists, 2 blocks); T.J. Ford(notes), not so much (23 minutes, 3 points 1-of-9 shooting, 3 assists). The Hawks compiled a 30:10 assist-to-turnover ratio as a team in their 120-109 win, while the Pacers' ratio was 23:25.
• Speaking of that Celtics defense, they held the Bobcats to 59 points on 31-percent shooting and 10 assists in the win. Gerald Wallace(notes) led Charlotte with 10 points in 38 minutes, and Raymond Felton(notes), D.J. Augustin(notes), Tyson Chandler(notes), and Stephen Graham(notes) combined to go 5-for-32 (16 percent) in the game.
• Most of the Heat did well and most of the Knicks did not is how you sum up Wednesday's box score. Of particular note for the Knicks: Danilo Gallinari's(notes) 22 points and seven threes in 28 minutes off the bench and Al Harrington's(notes) zero boards in 29 minutes. Of particular note for the Heat: Jermaine O'Neal's(notes) vaguely familiar double-double (22 points, 12 boards) and Michael Beasley's(notes) 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting.
• It shouldn't have been surprising to see Tyreke Evans(notes) struggle with his efficiency against the Thunders' skilled defenders (5-of-16 shooting, 2:3 assists-to-turnovers), but I absolutely expect it to be a recurring theme during his rookie season. What didn't help his and the rest of his teammates' production in the 102-89 loss is that Sean May(notes) and Desmond Mason(notes) are end-of-the-rotation players and have no business near the starting lineup.
• Position battle of note: Thabo Sefolosha(notes) started and played 34 minutes for the Thunder (8 points, 2 threes, 5 boards, 1 steal, 1 block), while rookie James Harden(notes) saw 13 minutes of action off the bench (5 points, 1 three, 2 boards).
• One of the best things about Yi Jianlian's(notes) line was what he didn't do, as in he took only one 3-point attempt. Keeping things closer to the basket helped him make 5-of-10 shots overall en route to 17 points, and he also grabbed 12 boards and blocked two shots. You didn't pass on this guy in Round 13 of your draft for some crusty, no-upside veteran, did you?
• Position battle of note: Chris Douglas-Roberts(notes) started and played 24 minutes for the Nets (8 points, 1 rebound), while rookie Terrence Williams(notes) posted a double-double (15 points, 10 boards) in 31 minutes as a reserve.
• Get used to taking the bad with the good when it comes to Corey Brewer(notes). His marginal offensive skills produced 3-of-14 shooting, but the eight boards, three steals, and one block certainly do play.
• If O.J. Mayo(notes) and Mike Conley(notes) are going to combine for 12 points on 3-of-16 shooting on a night when Allen Iverson(notes) doesn't play, then what hope can we possibly have for them when he's back in the mix?
• Marc Gasol(notes) had his way with the Pistons' undersized frontcourt to the tune of 21 points, 15 boards, and three blocks. Gasol may have been a bit underappreciated heading into the season, but it's also very likely that big-time production becomes a recurring theme for bigs that face Detroit.
• The Spurs looked like a deep and well-oiled machine, with 10 players seeing as many as 18 minutes and nine scoring at least nine points. Matt Bonner(notes) got the start at center and hit three treys (and led the team with 29 minutes), and DeJuan Blair(notes) did it again, this time going for 14/11 in 22 minutes. If you got Blair at little-to-no cost, then congrats – those of you that have rostered the Spurs headliners need to ponder the possibility of regular 25-ish minute nights.
• Position battle of note: Al Thornton(notes) started and played 25 minutes for the Clippers (9 points, 4 boards), while Rasual Butler(notes) played 32 minutes as a reserve (19 points, 3 threes, 4 assists).
• No surprise here, but the Warriors are going to lead the ease rankings without much difficulty again this season. Trevor Ariza(notes) (25 points, 4 threes, 5 assists), Aaron Brooks(notes) (18 points, 3 threes, 12 assists), and Luis Scola(notes) (21 points, 11 boards) were the major benefactors on Wednesday.
• Let's just assume Anthony Randolph(notes) only played 10 minutes on Wednesday because he's still not quite 100 percent and Don Nelson didn't want to risk a long-term issue with his young stud, okay?