Yesterday had our first basically full slate of NBA games–14 of them! There’s currently a free trial for NBA League Pass, so anyone that has digital cable can access all the games for the rest of the first week. Needless to say, that made last night pretty awesome. It didn’t hurt that Shane Victorino put the World Series out of reach nice and early. Let’s take a look around the league at some of the biggest stories from the start of a long season.
- The Mythical Power of Allen Iverson’s Retirement: After an emotional day of celebrating Allen Iverson’s career and officially retiring him as a 76er, the team pulled off the near impossible: beating the Heat. Granted, Miami was playing for the second straight night and without Dwyane Wade, but Philadelphia is projected to win less than 20 games this year! Michael Carter-Williams dazzled in the greatest debut I can recall and Evan Turner actually looked kind of like a #2 pick.
- Cavs take down new look Nets: Andrew Bynum’s return was a success, even if it only lasted eight minutes. It’s nice to see a truly elite talent back on the floor. Besides that, the Cavs did a great job holding on against Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and the Nets. Kyrie Irving shook off a tough shooting night to help ice the game. Deron Williams didn’t look fully recovered from offseason ankle woes, but the other starters looked pretty good.
- Dwight dazzles in debut: Dwight Howard, starting alongside former Bull Omer Asik, slapped up 26 boards in his first game in Rockets’ red. Asik chipped in 14 of his own as Houston put Charlotte away pretty easily. If Coach McHale keeps starting Asik and Howard together, the opposition is going to have major problems getting baskets.
- Paul George leads comeback: Much to the chagrin of Bulls fans, the Pacers did not join the Heat and Nets in losing to inferior opponents last night. Backed by 32 from Paul George and some key defense, the Pacers stormed back and put away the Pelicans. Jrue Holiday looked solid in his debut while Anthony Davis appears to be taking the next step. Frank Vogel’s Pacers are quickly becoming a veteran team that always feels like they can win (a lot like a certain team in Chicago).
- Kevin Love forces OT to snag a W: For the second straight night, the Orlando Magic played their asses off and came up just short. After taking a three point lead with under 30 seconds to go, the Magic watched Kevin Love force overtime on a beautifully wet, nearly uncontested three. The T-Wolves put away the young Magic in overtime, but there’s been a lot of encouraging play early on from Victor Oladipo and Andrew Nicholson among others.
- Revamped Mavs put away Hawks: Monta Ellis had it all, at least last night. With 32 points, Ellis was unstoppable. He’ll enjoy the space he gets to operate playing with the still elite Dirk Nowitzki. Jose Calderon struggled with his shot in his Mavs debut, but he still dealt out 11 assists. Paul Millsap played very well in his first game out of Utah, but it wasn’t enough.
- Thunder hold on against Jazz: Kevin Durant scored 22 of his 42 at the stripe as the Thunder held off a late Utah surge. Speaking of Serge, Ibaka struggled mightily on offense but came through with ten boards and a couple blocks late. If Russell Westbrook is really going to be back in two weeks, the rest of the league is on notice. Utah won’t quit as easy as many were suspecting, either.
- Kings take down Nuggets: In a matchup likely between two lottery teams, Sacramento put away the Nuggets on the strength of a stoked home crowd (they almost got moved to Seattle!). Ty Lawson played well, but the Nuggets don’t have much going on past that anymore.
- Warriors blow out Lakers, restore order to universe: Klay Thompson dropped 38 on 19 shots (!) and Coach Jackson was able to get his starters some rest before another big game tonight. The Lakers will have some strong games behind D’Antoni’s offensive system, but they simply don’t have enough talent to take down the better teams most nights.