As the continual and drastic changing of the NBA’s rosters during the offseason comes to a close, and the regular season looks to start in a few weeks, this preseason will be a very important glimpse into what to expect from each squad this coming year. The preseason started this past Friday, Oct. 4 with two games, one between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers, and the other between the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers.
The first game between the Clippers and Rockets was an exciting one to watch. Unfortunately, most of the big stars didn’t play. Houston Rockets’ point guard Russell Westbrook, Clippers shooting guard Kawhi Leonard and small forward Paul George were all healthy scratches for the contest. Despite these players electing to sit, Rockets’ long time shooting guard James Harden stole the show with his fancy handles. Without Westbrook on the floor, it’s difficult to judge this Rockets squad in such a small sample, but hopefully, Westbrook and Harden can be as interesting as their potential projects will be. The chemistry between George and Leonard isn’t even questioned, as everyone gets along with Leonard, and the Clippers’ camp has been quiet the majority of the offseason.
The first half of the game saw the Rockets take an early lead that the Clippers managed to keep a reduced pace with. The Rockets went on a strong run in the last few minutes of the second quarter, putting them up 57-40. Harden and the Rockets continued to pull away from the Clippers bland second-string roster heading into the third. In the fourth quarter, Los Angeles’ urgency changed, and they began playing offense with more intensity. Their effort was a little too late though, as they fell by a final score of 109-97, which additionally confirmed Harden’s dominance regardless of the time of year, as he had 37 points in the game.
The following contest between the Kings and Pacers gave fans some quality preseason action, as the game eventually forced overtime. Neither team built a significant lead through the first quarter, but Sacramento began to pull away in the second. Capping off the second quarter with a coast to coast buzzer-beater layup, point guard Yogi Ferrell gave the Kings a 13-point lead heading into the locker room. The second half opened up with the Pacers running the floor to bring the score within three. Both teams continued to score back and forth throughout the period, with Sacramento clinging to their lead. In the fourth quarter, both teams continued to run up the score. With under 10 seconds left in the game, off of an inbound pass Pacers’ small forward T.J. Warren hit an off-balance three-pointer to tie the game at 118-118. Sacramento couldn’t capitalize on the remaining regulation time, forcing the game into overtime, where the Pacers eventually came out on top. The final score of the game was 132-131.
Although it is so early in the pre-season, we can already speculate on some great matchups, dynamic duos, and up-and-coming players. Exciting matchups like the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers, in addition to the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets, are to come. With so many super teams forming and trades happening, there are many directions that the regular season can go. This is the first year in a while that people haven’t been able to truly predict with confidence at least one team that will be in the Finals. Hopefully, this preseason will at least give us a glimpse as to who our future NBA Champions will be.