First Impressions of the 2013-14 SeasonThe NBA season is a long grind and it would be foolish to draw definitive conclusions just two days into the process but every team has played at least one game and we have seen some interesting things so far:
- Mike Brown will once again transform the Cavaliers into a top notch defensive team; in their home debut, they held the Brooklyn Nets to .402 field goal shooting while also winning the rebounding battle 48-37. Cleveland's 98-94 victory over a team that most people expect to be an Eastern Conference contender is surprising only to those who do not understand that Brown is one of the league's best coaches.
- The L.A. Lakers added some three point shooters and they will have a chance to win on the nights when their long range bombs hit their targets--but they are terrible defensively, they are soft mentally and physically and they will only make the playoffs if Kobe Bryant not only returns to action but if he is able to score 28-30 ppg.
- Derrick Rose looked OK physically in his regular season debut but he is very rusty; he scored just 12 points on 4-15 field goal shooting as his Chicago Bulls fell 107-95 to the Miami Heat. He also had four assists and five turnovers. If the Bulls are going to beat the Heat in a playoff series Rose must produce at least 23-25 ppg while shooting at least .450 from the field.
- There is no question that LeBron James is an excellent passer, rebounder and defender--but, despite what anyone (including James himself) says, his greatest skill is scoring: he ranks third in NBA/ABA regular season history with a 27.5 ppg scoring average (trailing only Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain) and he ranks fifth in NBA/ABA playoff history with a 28.1 ppg scoring average (trailing only Jordan, Allen Iverson, Jerry West and Kevin Durant). James led the NBA in playoff scoring in 2009 (35.3 ppg) and 2012 (30.3 ppg) and he has averaged at least 25.1 ppg in seven of his eight postseason campaigns. James' signature playoff performances during his two championship seasons have all included outstanding scoring numbers, including 37 points on 12-23 field goal shooting in game seven of the 2013 NBA Finals, 32 points on 8-17 field goal shooting in game seven of the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals, 26 points on 9-19 field goal shooting in the clinching game five of the 2012 NBA Finals, 31 points on 9-21 field goal shooting in game seven of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals and 45 points on 19-26 field goal shooting in game six of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. With Dwyane Wade declining and Chris Bosh relegated to a glorified Horace Grant-jump shooting role, the Miami Heat need for James to continue to score prolifically and efficiently.
- The Memphis Grizzlies miss Rudy Gay's scoring and Lionel Hollins' coaching; they shot just .419 from the field in their 101-94 season-opening loss to the San Antonio Spurs, failing to capitalize on an injury that limited Tim Duncan to three points in just 17 minutes.
- Gay scored a team-high 19 points on 8-18 field goal shooting as his Toronto Raptors beat the Boston Celtics 93-87 in the first game of the season for both teams.
- The Oklahoma City Thunder will need for Kevin Durant to be in Kobe Bryant 2006 mode just to tread water until Russell Westbrook returns from his knee injury; Durant scored 42 points on 9-24 field goal shooting as the Thunder barely held off the rebuilding Utah Jazz, 101-98.
posted by David Friedman @ 1:26 PM