The NBA has been in a weird limbo since the COVID-19 pandemic began; at one time, they were in “the bubble,” and then last season opened in December and had the Finals in July. We are now in the third season of the pandemic, and it feels as though the NBA is attempting to get back to a sense of normalcy.
The big matchup of the tipoff night was the Los Angeles Lakers against the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors pulled it off 121-114, Steph Curry had a triple-double with 21/10/10 despite shooting only 5/21 from the floor. Unfortunately, Lebron’s 34-point day wasn’t good enough to overcome the team he currently has a 1-3 record against in the NBA Finals. The Lakers will have to wait until February 12 to get their revenge. Nevertheless, the win was crucial for the Warriors. Who is coming off of a 39-33 season in which they lost in the play-in bracket. It was their first time watching the playoffs from their couches in eight years.
In the Eastern conference, the Milwaukee Bucks blew out the Brooklyn Nets 127-104 on the opening tipoff night. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 32 and added 14 rebounds. Nets forward Kevin Durant also finished with a comparable 32 points and 11 rebounds, but that was not enough to escape a blowout from the Bucks.
Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green, the top two picks in this year’s NBA Draft. Both had disappointing starts to their career. Cunningham was ruled out and did not participate in the season opener. At the same time, Green, selected by the Houston Rockets with the second overall pick, began his NBA career with 9 points and 4 rebounds in and 4 assists against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Luckily for the two of them, the NBA season is a marathon, not a sprint, so expect the two rookies to find their groove sooner than later.
The Brooklyn Nets looked like they could use Kyrie Irving in their first game, as he is sitting out due to not wanting to get the vaccine. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the 76ers deal with one of their stars, Ben Simmons, wanting out. From playoffs to work ethic, Simmons time with the 76ers has been rough. So a trade does feel inevitable but finding suitors has proven to be somewhat difficult.
Even if the wait was shorter than usual, it is great to have the NBA back already. A new season means new rookies, veterans on new teams, and there is a long way to go before a playoff picture becomes clear.
Basketball Reference, ESPN, NBA.com, NBC Sports