After experiencing the draft, crazy offseason stories, trades, free agent signings and watching players ball out in various summer leagues, the anticipation is over. NBA basketball is back. The first two games came last Tuesday as the Boston Celtics defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 105-87.
Following that game, we saw the reigning champions, the Golden State Warriors, receive their rings along with their first win of the season over the Oklahoma City Thunder. These two rival games, that are potential conference final matchups, give us a glimpse of what to be excited for this season; There were already signs of tension shown early.
After the Celtics, we got to see the top-two favorite candidates for Rookie of the Year in Luka Dončić of the Dallas Mavericks taking on DeAndre Ayton and the Phoenix Suns. Ayton got the first laugh as he took the first win along with his first career double-double.
Fans got to see LeBron’s Los Angeles Lakers debut against Portland on Thursday. Additions include Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley along with young talents Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma will be an interesting collaboration of players to watch. Though they lost 128-119 to a solid Trail Blazers team, the Lakers are going to be one of the most exciting and scrutinized teams this season.
Another possible Easter Conference Finals matchup will take place with the Toronto Raptors taking on the Boston Celtics on Oct. 19. The DeRozan-Leonard trade is looking good for the Raptors, as Leonard is putting up early-MVP candidate numbers. It will be intriguing how this team (especially Kyle Lowry) evolves from the end of the DeRozan era.
The Rockets and Lakers faced off in LA for LeBron’s home debut. Facing the new-looking Rockets as well, the two teams battled in a Western Conference showdown. The feud between point guards Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul boiled as we saw each throw punches, and teammate Brandon Ingram got into the scuffle as well. Ingram got a four-game suspension, Rondo got three and Paul got two. Ingram was said to have gotten the worst “for aggressively returning to and escalating the altercation.”
Russell Westbrook made his season debut against the Sacramento Kings after missing the first game. He put up 32 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists. It seems Westbrook hasn’t missed a step, and the Thunder are hungrier than ever for another shot at the title.
Rookie Trae Young put up 35 points and 11 assists in the win against the Cavaliers. The last four rookies to have 35+ points and 10+ assists were Steph Curry, LeBron James and Allen Iverson. This is a fantastic company for the Hawk’s draft pick.
Way to Early Playoff Predictions
*In Order from 1-seed to 8-seed
*Numbers by teams are for the Best-of-7 series
West: Warriors, Rockets, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Jazz, Nuggets, Spurs and Pelicans
East: Celtics, Raptors, Bucks, 76ers, Pacers, Heat, Wizards and Pistons
Western Conference Finals: Warriors 4 – Jazz 2
Eastern Conference Finals: Celtics 4 – Raptors 3
Finals: Warriors 4 – Celtics 2
There have already been a handful of upsets as well as last second shots to decide games. The season ahead will hands down be one of the best seasons in the NBA to date. We are witnessing talent in various forms on every single team.
Though only the first week has passed, it will be fun to see these teams develop chemistry and tap into unreached potential over the course of the 2018-2019 basketball year.