NBA Opening Night Quick Hitters

Opening night in the NBA featured two great opening games, games that could be a predictor of both the Eastern and Western Conference finals next spring. Cleveland and Houston were victorious on opening night, a Tuesday evening that featured highlights and lowlights. Let’s take a look at some things of note and (likely) overreactions coming out of Tuesday nights opening slate:

Hayward Injured

First things first, the Gordon Hayward injury was as gruesome as it gets, and nothing in this article will replicate the sheer sound and reaction that took place early in the first quarter in Cleveland. It will be hard for the Celtics to replace Hayward and the firepower he would have given the Boston offense. The most important thing is to send positive thoughts Hayward’s way and hope for the quickest, healthiest recovery possible.

Boston Still Has Young Talent

While the Celtics will miss Hayward’s presence, back-to-back draft picks, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, both showed a ton of promise on opening night. Brown scored 25 points and looked comfortable within the offense. While he shot a poor 2-9 from the Three-Point line, and registered zero assists, his ability to score looks to be improved over his rookie campaign. He also continues to show that he will be a plus defender for the entirety of his career. Tatum looked very comfortable for a rookie making his debut on the road. He finished with his first career double-double and showed that he will be a key factor in the Celtics offense. Tatum will undoubtedly take his lumps as a rookie, but it is going to be a treat for fans to watch his development as he begins to get his feet wet in the league.

Kyrie and Lebron

It was great to see the mutual respect between LeBron and Kyrie at the end of the game. Following a nasty summer breakup, it was good to see the divisiveness off the court was not able to trump the respect for their games on the floor.

Cavs Played Small Ball

Cleveland went small with their starting lineup of Rose/Wade/LeBron/Crowder/Love. Coach Tyronn Lue will tweak the lineups throughout the season, when intermittent rest becomes a priority for Rose/Wade/Bron. Plus, it will be interesting to see how the rotation looks once Isaiah Thomas is back from his injury. Jae Crowder struggled from Three Point land (1-5) on Tuesday, but he will serve as an upgrade over the streaky JR Smith and Iman Shumpert.

Durant a Millisecond Late

Kevin Durant’s game winner was just a touch too late, as the Rockets upset the Warriors to open the season. It is not even close to time to hit the panic button on the Warriors, but it was surprising to see them drop the home opener.

Houston’s Bench Was Deep

Houston’s bench outscored Golden State’s 58-48 on the strength of 20 point outings from PJ Tucker and Eric Gordon and was a key in the victory. If Houston is going to have a chance at contending with the Warriors come May, the bench will need to continue to be as productive as possible. Gordon is a lethal 6th man in a Mike D’Antoni coached offense, while PJ Tucker and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute must continue to produce on both ends off the bench for the Rockets. Nick Young looks to be a good pick-up for the Warriors if he plays within himself and becomes a consistent scoring threat off of the bench.

CP3 Still The Same Floor General

Chris Paul only scored 4 points, and struggled from the floor in his Houston debut, but he played extremely well in every other facet of the game. He chipped in 11 assists (to only one turnover), and grabbed 8 rebounds and showed great command of the offense. The dynamic between Harden and Paul will be interesting to follow as the season progresses, but so far so good 1/82nd of the way through the season.

Off Night For the Golden State Trio

Durant/Curry/Thompson combined for ONLY 58 points, which was as much as the Houston bench. No cause for concern, as it was opening night, but an interesting statistic that caught my eye while looking through the Box Scores from last night.

NBA opening night 2017 was an interesting one, setting the tone for many more compelling nights of NBA hoops forthcoming this season.

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