The NBA regular season has begun and has shown some very interesting matchups that have been better than anticipated, like the battle for Los Angeles between the Lakers and Clippers on opening night, as well as Milwaukee Bucks and the Houston Rockets, promised intense early season action. Not only do the results of games like this deserve attention, but games where individual players take over count as well. The opening game for the Brooklyn Nets against the Minnesota Timberwolves is one example, as the Nets’ newly acquired point guard Kyrie Irving absolutely dominated on offense. This is a season where a lot of teams could make it to the NBA Finals without any surprises.
The Lakers and Clippers matchup was extremely exciting to watch since both teams have fresh faces. After an intense off-season, multiple All-Stars have come to town, with center Anthony Davis joining forces with small forward LeBron James on the Lakers, while the Clippers have both small forward Paul George and guard Kawhi Leonard. Both of the Clippers’ All-Stars are in their prime and new to the team, which already had routine defensive player of the year candidate Patrick Beverly on the roster. Most people around the league think of Leonard as one of the better players on the hardwood today, after he carried the Toronto Raptors to their first championship in franchise history last season.
Despite being new to the franchise, both Leonard and Geroge showed why they hold the status that they do. The game started with the Lakers taking the lead, but that lead shrunk as the first quarter played out. Going into the second quarter, both teams exchanged the lead several times, working on chemistry and easing into the season before heading to the locker room to tweak both offenses and defenses. Coming out of the half, the Clippers came out on fire, quickly gaining a 14-point lead in the first few minutes. The Lakers mounted a comeback towards the end of the third, but the Clippers continued to pick up their offensive effort and made smart decisions with the basketball. The Lakers did end up taking the lead midway through the fourth, but Leonard and George rallied their squad back to take the eventual 112-102 victory.
The matchup between the Houston Rockets and the Milwaukee Bucks, providing three former league MVPs all in one contest, is another favorable matchup for fans to begin the season. Following a speculation-filled offseason regarding chemistry, All-Star guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden finally showed everyone what they could do on the hardwood together, again. Reigning league MVP and Bucks’ point guard Giannis Antkenoumpou, gave Westbrook and Harden a run for their money the entire night. Harden and Westbrook finished the night with 19 points and 24 points, respectively, but couldn’t overcome Antkenoumpou and his squad, as the Rockets fell 117-111.
The last game that was both interesting in terms of team play and individual play was the game between the Nets and the Timberwolves. This contest ended up going into overtime when the Nets failed to make both foul shots when tied with a just a few seconds on the clock. This inability to be clutch lost the Nets the game, as the Timberwolves won in overtime. Despite this loss, there was still a lot of promise with this Nets’ roster, now that they have “The Man” in Irving. Irving scored 50 points and had seven assists. Although he wasn’t moving the ball around quite as much as the typical point guard would, Irving’s scoring ability beyond the arc and driving to the paint made up for his lack of passing. Despite this great scoring performance, he didn’t work well with his team. Although it was just the first game, it follows the pattern that was made in Cleveland when he was a Cavalier and continued into his disappointing time as a Boston Celtic.
Through week one the NBA regular season, players are already beginning to mull over their decisions from the past offseason, and Irving may find he should’ve chosen a team with better chemistry suited to his means where he can focus on being the scoring machine instead of distributing the ball. After failing to work with James, and the entirety of Boston’s deep roster, how Irving gets along with Durant upon his return will spell the future of Irving’s legacy. For now, it’s back to the hardwood in a drive to the Finals.