Consider this your weekly “in case you missed it” column.
Week 1 of the 2013-2014 NBA is in the books and I, for one, could not be happier. It had everything an NBA fan could want: the return of Derrick Rose, huge upsets, fights, and even a trade! Let’s rehash it all:
THE RETURN OF ROSE
The Chicago Bulls ended the offseason with the highest of hopes. Who could blame them? They were getting their best player and former MVP Derrick Rose back from injury, they replaced Marco Belinelli with Mike Dunleavy, and they added a promising rookie in Tony Snell. Everything was set for the Bulls to pick up right where they left off from last season.
If you don’t remember, the Bulls and their seriously unhealthy roster came out and beat Miami in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals before losing the next four. Despite the near-sweep, there was plenty to celebrate in Chicago. The What Ifs were rampant. What if Luol Deng didn’t have the flu? What if Joakim Noah’s foot wasn’t falling off? And, most speculated, what if Derrick Rose exchanged his tailored suit for a knee-brace?
A whole offseason of waiting and…the Bulls are 1-2. Instead of exacting that revenge on Miami during the season’s tip-off, they were completely out-classed. Rose had some bright moments, including this layup, but looked rusty overall. Rose has continued to look like he’s still regaining his sea legs throughout the rest of this first week; especially with his shot. He’s shooting under 30% in both three point field goal percentage (27%) and overall field goal percentage (29%). Those numbers leave a smell so bad, a game winner against the New York Knicks can’t wash it away.
Against all odds (seriously, look at these odds), the Sixers are a perfect 3-0. Currently, they hold bragging rights over the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Washington Wizards. For those playing at home, these are wins over two legit championship contenders and one playoff hopeful. The Sixers will definitely lose a lot of games this season, but right now they’re building their early success on getting buckets and the strong play from Michael Carter-Williams. Both strategies – scoring and relying on a rookie- are proven to be unsustainable. For now, though, the Sixers are enjoying being on top of the mountain (or they’re absolutely hating it if you believe the tank talk). While Carter-Williams has been a nice surprise, the Sixers success is not all that unpredictable. Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Lavoy Allen, and Spencer Hawes are all young, talented, and proven NBA players. More importantly, they are four players that have played together for a while. Add in the surprising play from Carter-Williams and second year man Tony Wroten and you get three big Ws.
OF COURSE I MEAN BUSINESS! CAN’T YOU SEE HOW HIGH MY SHORTS ARE!
There were two, count ‘em, two fights in the Clippers win over the Warriors game on Thursday. One, which got substantial play on ESPN, had something to do with Blake Griffin stepping on Mark Jackson’s foot. It is really hard for me to take a side in cases of foot-on-foot violence, but I’ll give it a go. In one corner you have Blake Griffin, the guy who exaggerates any and all contact. In the other corner you have Mark Jackson, who’s the quintessential old guy in the pick-up game. You know the guy wearing the basketball shorts over the sweat pants? The guy who can’t run but can foul the hell out of you every time you touch the ball.
It’s just too hard to figure out who blew this situation out of proportion more. If I had to choose, I would have to give the slight edge to Jackson. I just can’t take him seriously after the whole, “I’m not going to let the Rockets get a record for most three point makes because I’m old school” thing. That made no sense to me. If Jackson was so old school and tough, wouldn’t he coach up his players to run guys off the line instead of having them intentionally foul to prevent a three attempt?
In the heavy weight fight of the night, DeAndre Jordan took exception to a hard foul delivered by Andrew Bogut. Instead of engaging in some civil discourse, they did what all people who have no intention of actually fighting do when in a hostile situation: exchange a few shoves and walk around yelling at each other in between eight other people. So brave.
While Jordan seemed more committed to the persona with his clapping and pulling his short bottoms up to his belly button (I can think of nothing more menacing), I would have to place my bet on Bogut. His death stare has no equal.
TIT FOR GORTAT
After waking up from a three month nap to find John Wall making near-max money, Wizards’ GM Ernie Grunfeld realized that it was playoffs or bust. In order to make up for the lack of an offseason splash, Grunfeld swung a deal for Marcin Gortat. Phoenix, in full tank mode, were all too happy to take Emeka Okafor’s huge expiring contract in order to dump Kendall Marshall and Shannon Brown’s salaries.
It hasn’t exactly worked out for the Wizards so far (0-3), but a starting line-up of Gortat, Nene Hilario, Bradley Beal, Wall, and Trevor Ariza is a respectable 7th seed.