Thursday, October 31, 2013

Around the League on NBA Opening Night

By Kevin Beane

Okay, yes, opening night was last night, but this is the first night with a full slate of games. So I'll be liveblogging the festivities for a couple of hours, taking a peek at as many games as possible.

8:16 PM EST: So I got home from work a bit later than I wanted and missed the first half of the 7 PM tip-offs. I'm a Cavs fan, and the buzz around their opener at home against the Nets was whether or not Andrew Bynum would play. He hadn't been medically cleared to as of this afternoon, but I was given to understand that clearance could come at any moment. Or not. Checking the box score, he's playing! Hooray!

8:19 PM: I am also starting to think that +/- is a pretty useless stat in basketball. Anthony Bennett has 3 rebounds and 0 points for the Cavs and is +11. Tristan Thompson has 10 points on 4-7 shooting and is -10. Cavs lead by 1 at halftime.

8:25 PM: Wow, I also see the Sixers are leading the Heat by 1 early in the third quarter, and I am given to understand Philly burst out to a 23-2 lead. Playing the back end of a back-to-back is never easy, even for the Heat, and the Sixers have been given reams of bulletin board material from, well, everybody, saying they are going to challenge to be the worst NBA team of the modern era this year.

8:34 PM: The last year LeBron was with the Cavs, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce knocked them out of the playoffs with the Celtics. Now the same pair have keyed a 9-0 run for the Nets to give them the lead. They are the unkillable Chucky dolls to the Cavs, um, who is the protagonist in the Child's Play movies?

8:43 PM: I go to the bathroom and the Cavs are now up by 8 again. I am clearly bad luck for the Cavs and better switch.

8:44 PM: I switch Bucks/Knicks for probably the only time tonight because it is the only blowout this far with the Knicks up by 20. I've only heard bad about Milwaukee's uniforms, but I am glad they are re-embracing their red and green roots; why is this such a rare color scheme in sports? Too Christmasy?

8:50 PM: Knicks extend the lead to 25 at halftime. Iman Shumpert looks like a man I would not like to scrap with in a dark alley.

8:52 PM: The Celtics, like the Sixers, are given no chance to compete for a playoff spot, but while the Sixers continue to hang with the Heat, the Celtics are down by double digits to the Raptors.

8:53 PM: Kris Humphries with the last 3 points for the Celtics to cut the lead to 7. No word on whether his teammates asked Celtics brass not to bring him in because he was too much of a jackwagon.

8:59 PM: On the heels of a trivia question, the Raptors announcers on TSN2 have just spent the last several minutes waxing nostalgic about Vince Carter. They clearly still haven't gotten over the breakup, perhaps haven't even gotten out of bed and showered.

9:00 PM: This new delay-of-game rule, where the player can't touch the ball once it has gone through the net, is serious BS. Is this really taking up all kinds of time? And as the Raptors color man points out (I might as well praise him after I bury him), these players have been batting/tossing the ball back to the ref after buckets since grade school.

9:04 PM: The Celtics have come back all the way back from 16 down to tie it at the end of the third quarter, on a Brandon Bass dunk.

9:07 PM: The Wizards are a sexy pick for a huge resurgence, but they are down 10 at Detroit. I'm glad the Wizards are sticking with their Bullets-esque throwbacks.

9:08 PM: Nearly four minutes into the third quarter, neither the Wizards or the Pistons have missed a field goal (in the quarter, that is).

9:19 PM: Whoa, nearly missed the end of Sixers/Heat. Sixers up by a deuce with 27.5 seconds left.

9:21 PM: Shane Battier misses the three, Sixers get the rebound, and are shooting 2 with 19.1 seconds left ... and Evan Turner sinks them both. 13-1 run for Philadelphia. Spencer Hawes, of all people, has apparently keyed the run. Timeout Miami.

9:28 PM: The Sixers hang on to beat the Heat. That is, the consensus worst team in the NBA has defeated the consensus best team. This is why I love sports. It's the first time the Sixers have beaten Miami in the LeBron era in the regular season, in 15 tries. Michael Carter-Williams had 22 points and 9 steals, the steals being a pro-debut record. One more steal and it would have been a triple-double. I wonder if this is among the best statistical debuts in NBA history. He was not even a top 10 pick. Now on to the Nets/Cavs, tied with a minute left.

9:32 PM: Speaking of the unlikely, Anderson Varejao gives Cleveland the lead, not on a put-back or a post move but on a 15-foot jumper. 28.1 seconds left.

9:35 PM: Cavs pulling away from the Nets and I am really liking the way this evening is turning out. I'm pretty sure Austin Carr, the Cavs' color man, said, "Hell no!" after the Nets missed a three. And the Cavs do hang on to win.

9:39 PM: Back to Wizards/Pistons. Raptors hung on to beat Boston but I missed the ending.

10:11 PM: I don't know why I have stayed with this boring game for so long, but the Wizards did cut the lead from 14 to 6 so I gave them a puncher's chance. But the lead is back to 10 with 30 seconds left soooo ... Bobcats/Rockets. Bucks came back but New York hung on to win, just missed that ending.

10:15 PM: Make the Magic/Wolves, as while Yahoo reports the Rockets leading by 6, they actually have not updated a couple of minutes and Houston actually leads by 12. Minnesota leads by one with about four minutes left.

10:24 PM: Now 40 seconds left and NO ONE HAS SCORED since I've turned it here. These ... these are not good teams.

10:25 PM: Orlando finally regains the lead. They are 10.5-point underdogs.

10:28 PM: Orlando extends the lead to three with 12.5 seconds left. I checked the box score to see who was winning the Oladipo/Rubio battle, and, bizarrely, they are both 5-11 from the floor and 1-2 from the line. Both have 3 personal fouls, too. Kevin Love ties the game with a three.

10:29 PM: Arron Afflalo misses the buzzer-beater and the NBA has their first overtime game of the season.

10:50 PM: Wolves win comfortably in overtime and it is time for this intrepid reporter to turn off the broadcasting light.

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