By ZACH WOHLEKING
It’s that time again already, the NBA season is underway and there are already so many headlines and things to talk about. This season is sure to be an exciting one, as there are so many new faces on many different teams. The opening week of the season definitely did not disappoint, as it left fans with so much to talk about. So, let’s jump right in.
First on the list, who else but the Golden State Warriors.Opening night on Oct. 17 started off as one of celebration, as the Warriors’ ring ceremony took place and almost everyone in the arena could not be less than overjoyed watching their triumphant Warriors claim what is rightfully theirs from last season, everyone except for the Houston rockets players and fans that is. So as the Warriors celebrated, the Rockets got themselves ready to get to work against the reigning champs and with the new addition of point guard Chris Paul to their starting lineup, things were looking up.
The game was competitive right down to the very last shot, taken by star forward Kevin Durant but his game winning shot was a bit late, as the shot clock negated Durant’s efforts. So, the shot that would have won them the game, unfortunately did not count. Thus, the Warriors fell to the Rockets 122 to 121 and the champs started off their season with a losing record. As the week went on, the Warriors’ woes would not end with that loss.
Though they did win against New Orleans on Friday Oct. 20 by eight points, final score being 128 to 120 they did not have as much luck when they faced Memphis the very next day. The reigning champs ended up losing the game by ten and had their two biggest stars ejected at the end of the game. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant were both thrown from the game after Curry threw his mouthpiece at a referee after a no call, which in turn got him immediately ejected.
This led to the Memphis fan base getting extremely excited and cheering up a storm within their home arena. It got so bad that while Curry was being escorted off, Durant felt it necessary to show his middle finger to the Grizzlies bench and fans, which of course got him escorted out of the game as well. So, this is where the champs are at now, 1 to 2 record to start the season with controversy and foul mannered play looming.
They do not seem to be playing like the champs from last year and the whole league is just waiting to take a shot at them after seeing them fall to a subpar team like Memphis. This first week showed many weaknesses in the once thought indestructible armor of the champion Golden State Warriors. It is a bit worrisome for Golden State.
So what about the East?
The Eastern Conference lost its share of exceptional players during the offseason. With the likes of all stars such as Paul George and Carmelo Anthony both moving to the Western Conference team of Oklahoma City. This does not mean however that the East cannot produce some headlines as it still has enough star power to stir up some entertainment.
Opening night was no exception, as NBA Finals runner up, Cleveland Cavaliers took on the new and improved Boston Celtics and these teams are practically rivals at this point due to what transpired this offseason between them. To recap, long time star point guard of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving, requested a trade away from the successful team due to differences he had with their other star player LeBron James.
This led to Cleveland trading away Irving to the Celtics in return for their All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas as well as their defensive stopper Jae Crowder. This coming after an emotional season between Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics where he felt very committed to the team as their star player. Well one can see that the feeling was not mutual between Thomas and management as they traded him away for Irving without giving it a second thought.
There is a lot of resentment on both sides here, one being the tension between former teammates Irving and James, and also the anger of Isaiah Thomas toward his former team. You combine that with the Celtics acquiring star player Gordon Hayward in the offseason and you have two angry powerhouses ready to face off, and face off they did.
As the first quarter got underway, fans could tell it was going to be close battle between two teams that really wanted this opening night game. Unfortunately, then something devastating happened which changed the whole tone of the night. While going up for a finish around the rim, Gordon Hayward of the Celtics landed awkwardly on the way down, breaking his leg in the process.
The injury was gruesome and hard to look at. Players from both teams stood in utter shock as they watched one of their own in deep pain being carted off the court, most likely with a season ending injury. This changed the energy of the game, the pace was slowed, one could see how this affected the players on both teams. When the game finally came to conclusion it was still a close competitive game, just with a very somber tone.
When it was finally over players from both teams respectively congratulated each other on a hard-fought game. One of the biggest scenes being LeBron James and Kyrie Irving hugging one another after the game. One could see how the injury affected the players, this situation was bigger than all the off the court drama between the two teams, they had witnessed a man’s entire career at stake within a few seconds. Definitely a roller coaster of emotions for an opening game. The final score of the game was Cleveland 102, Boston 99.
Finally, Some Predictions
With the season just getting underway, a lot of fans enjoy making these bold predictions on how an entire season is going to go just based on seeing the first week of games. So based on this first week I am going to tell you my picks for MVP, Rookie of the Year, and the team that will end the season with the best record.
The Houston Rockets
Boasting one of the most premiere offenses in the game today, Coach Mike Diantoni of the Houston rockets cares about one thing and one thing only, scoring. Chris Paul and James Harden lead the charge for this team of “three and D” players, and oh boy do they shoot the three ball. They averaged the most three pointers attempted by any team last season and by the looks of it that number is only going to go up. With their roster and coaching in place I can see this team easily having the best record during the regular season, especially since the top teams like the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers do not seem to care about the regular season all that much.
Rookie of the year:
As much as this kid’s dad may annoy fans, he can ball. Lonzo put up 29 points 11 rebounds and 9 assists in just his second game as a pro, a near triple double. I foresee many more performances like this from him in the future. The Lakers have given him the keys to the team, and he’s about to put up some crazy stats for a rookie this season.
The Greek Freak, the guy has had quite the start to the season. In his first three games, he is averaging 38 points per game, 10 rebounds per game, and five assists per game. Last season he led his team in every stat and was a finalist for this award. Considering that he seems to have gotten even better and so has his team, I can say with confidence he will either win this award of be a close second. This is also taking into consideration that almost every good team this season has at least two superstars who share the stats and the glory. They are about to be out of this world.