The NBA season tipped off last night with the Miami Heat hosting the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers hosting the Dallas Mavericks (and the Cavaliers and Wizards played too).
The Heat and Lakers have emerged as the most popular NBA Finals pick especially after the James Harden trade so it was interesting to see each team last night for the first time with all of their new additions.
Miami looked very good beating Boston 120-107. They looked supremely comfortable in everything they did as LeBron James scored a very cool 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting in just 29 minutes. Dwyane Wade led the team with 29 points but the Heat were outscored by six in the 35 minutes he played.
Ray Allen was determined to come out and have a good game vs. his old team and he scored 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 31 minutes off the bench.
The Celtics shot 52 percent from the field but turned the ball over 16 times. Boston has a lot of new faces on their team this year and it will surely take some time for them to mesh together.
The Heat have to get an A+ for their performance last night. It was pretty perfect except for them allowing Boston to shoot such a high percentage. They played their small lineups with LeBron and Battier at the four all night and it was something the Celtics simply couldn’t match up with.
Miami seems poised for their best regular season since the Big 3 joined. Being in the easy Eastern Conference, it won’t be hard for them to wrap up the one seed very early in this season.
The Lakers home opener did not go as well. They lost to Dallas 99-91 and look to have a lot of work ahead if they are going to live up to expectations.
Dwight Howard had 19 points and 10 rebounds in his debut but went 3-for-14 from the free throw line and fouled out in 38 minutes of action. Kobe Bryant had 22 points on 11-of-14 shooting with no assists and no free throw attempts.
Pau Gasol looked the most comfortable in the new Princeton offense with 23 points, 13 boards and six assists. Steve Nash became an afterthought and had just seven points and four assists in 34 minutes.
There were times early in this one where the Lakers’ offense looked smooth and it resulted in easy baskets. But as the game went on, there was more hesitation and uncertainty by Lakers players, especially as Dallas went ahead.
Learning this offense will take some time for the Lakers but if they do master it, they will be very tough to beat. Gasol and Howard are skilled enough as bigs to make this offense work and Nash and Kobe should be fine in it as well.
This was Howard’s first game back from having surgery in the offseason and he will also need time to get his conditioning back to where it was. He seems pretty far along considering the surgery. The free throw shooting is obviously a problem but he should continue to look better as the season goes on.
The Thunder’s biggest competition was very different last night. Miami looked amazing, although maybe not too much better than they were last year in the Finals. The Lakers are a long way from reaching their potential.
The Thunder will open up their season Thursday night at 9 p.m. EST in San Antonio on TNT.