The NBA came back last night with two fairly close, slightly sloppy games. The Boston Celtics showed off just how scary they can be with a fully healthy roster in their 105–87 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Golden State Warriors shook of the rust just in time to outlast a Russell Westbrook-less Oklahoma City Thunder squad 108–100. Both games had a healthy mix of exciting plays including this sick over the back pass from Ben Simmons to Markelle Fultz:
The Jaylen Brown’s dunk/layup poster over Embiid (see photo above) also stands out. There was the expected first-game sloppiness: 64 combined turnovers between the four teams, but who cares! It’s so great to have basketball back in a meaningful way.
This is going to be especially interesting season for me when it comes to watching/writing about the NBA as my wife and I have just had our first child. KJ is a delightful, ever smiling baby who has brought a ton of joy into our lives. Her arrival has, admittedly, made it bit more difficult to watch sports, write about sports, or basically do anything other than cater to her every need. As someone who works from home I do enjoy having the extra company, but the added workload of being a full time parent means I’m honestly not sure what this years basketball blog is going to look like. There are days when I don’t step foot outdoors or change out of my pajamas, so the idea of covering the entire league on a nightly basis is pretty laughable.
That all said, I do still very much intend on writing about the NBA this season. I’ve also been thinking about writing about my experience as a stay at home dad. I’m not quite sure how the two subjects will intertwine yet, but I’m going to give it my best shot. The plan is to write a post every single day of the season. I’m not promising that every post will be world shattering in its content or scope, but taking the time to sit down and think critically about the NBA, and my life in general, is going to be crucial to keeping me sane in these early parent months. Shout outs to my wife for agreeing to give me an hour or two every day to escape to my dungeon work. If nothing else — this writing exercise gives me an excuse to use my office, which has accumulated a lot of dust in the past three months.
I’m not sure what better way to start this year’s basketball diary than with my finals prediction. I already posted the quick and dirty version on Twitter, along with some other season award prognostications, but here it is with a little more explanation.
At the risk of sounding boring I have the Golden State Warriors over the Boston Celtics in six games. I’m sorry to not have a sexier pick to start this blog off with, but it’s the best I can do on four hours sleep.
In a lot of ways this year’s Boston squad reminds me a lot of the 2015 Warriors, which is to say that they are a young, incredibly talented squad that can play 10-men deep. This is certainly a team that Danny Ainge has molded using the Golden State formula. Injuries to Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward last year let players like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum get meaningful playoff reps. Tatum spent time in the offseason working on his game with Kobe Bryant, and you can see just how much the second swingman has already improved when it comes to his footwork and ball handling. Just look at what Tatum does to poor Joel Embiid on this iso:
The Celtics have a starting lineup that can all shoot and create for others when called on, as well as play the same kind of switch heavy D that teams like the Warriors have used to great effect over the last couple of years. They have a gamebreaker in Kyrie Irving who has already taken out a historic Warriors team in the finals. They are well coached, hungry, and will not back down when the moment comes. All that said, they still don’t stand a chance against a healthy, fully interested Golden State Squad.
We are not even a week into the season and people are already pointing to a number of signs that this will be Kevin Durant’s last season with the Warriors. All of the rumors about KD going to the Knicks in the off season have made for fun speculation, but I don’t think it will keep Golden State from winning their third title in a row. If the past five years has showed us anything it’s that today’s NBA players are savvy enough to be able to keep their future plans from effecting their play in the present. LeBron James practically had his bags waiting at the door for much of last season, yet put up MVP numbers in Cleveland.
You can probably expect the Warriors to rest a lot of guys in the regular season. I half expected them to put Andre Iguodala in a cryogenic freezer until the playoffs started. There are going to be times in which the players look like they are going through the motions on the court, and just turning it on when they need to. Even in last night’s win over the Thunder it felt like they were doing the bare minimum they had to in order to win. Every time the game would get too close Steph would hit one his patented 35 footers, or Kevin Durant would win a one-on-one possession. Even if Draymond Green is not quite the bulldog we have seen in the past few years, and the bench seems thinner, this is still a team that features two of the best players we have ever seen in Durant and Curry, and one of the all-time scariest heat check guys in Thompson. They are the Beatles at the end of their run, maybe not at the peak of their powers, but still talented enough to make Abbey Road without breaking a sweat.