After a mere 72-day offseason the 2020-21 NBA season tipped off Tuesday night. Considering the lack of an actual combine, summer league, and a very truncated training camp, my expectations for the early to mid portion of this season are very low. Nonetheless, here are may takeaways from Tuesday’s on court action.
Game 1, Brooklyn Nets 125, Golden State Warriors 99
With the unfortunate injury to Klay Thompson the Warriors went from a potential contender to a playoff question make. Thrown in the absence of Draymond Green , who not suiting up due to a foot injury, the outcome of this game was not in question, ( that was pretty well settled halfway through the second quarter) but I was very interested in seeing how the new-look Nets would look, particularly one Mr. Kevin Durant who is coming back from the same injury that will cost Thompson this season, a torn Achilles’ tendon.
Watching him in the preseason, and even with this game, I was not paying attention to the numbers he put up but more so how he looked on the court, meaning how his lower body mechanics looked. Thankfully for Nets and basketball fans as a whole, he looks a lot like the old KD. Durant moved very well and showed no hesitation to push off the repaired leg, getting a dunk on a fast break and displaying the same offensive versatility that has confounded defences and awed basketball fans for over a decade. Durant also showed somewhat of a pep in his step on defence, attempting to get a chase down block but was called for a goal tend. What this says to me is that he just playing and not thinking about the injury and that is a great thing; as anyone who has suffered a major injury such as that will tell you, the mental aspect , i.e. trusting the body part again is the toughest and last hurdle one must cross to be fully healed and it looks like KD has clearly kicked that door down.
Fellow Nets co-star Kyrie Irving looked sharp as well, scoring 26 points on very efficient shooting and dare I say even made some competent and decisive efforts and decisions on defence. His 24 point first half helped to end the competitive portion of this game very early.
Game 2 Los Angeles Clippers 116, Los Angeles Lakers 109
It was ring night for the Lakers and they came out in the first quarter with the proverbial championship hangover, falling behind 39-19 in the first quarter before rallying in the second quarter to only face a two-point deficit headed into the half.
In the third quarter,the Lakers would tie the game on a few occasions but could never over the hump and claim the lead. In the fourth quarter the Clippers would finally seize control of the game and the Lakers, who would draw with in six points twice ( 91-85 and 96-90) but would never get any closer, as the Clippers would enjoy a double-digit lead for the majority of the final quarter.
Paul George played like he was trying to make us forget about ‘Pandemic P’ scoring 33 points on a scorching 13/18 from the floor, including a stretch of ten straight points in the third quarter to keep the Clippers out front.
Kawhi Leonard added 26 on 10/26 from the floor. Sage Ibaka chipped in with 15 points in his Clippers debut.
Lebron and Anthony Davis, combined for 40 points and had their moments but neither was their normal dominant self. New Laker Dennis Schröder almost had a triple double going for 14 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists, while fellow new Laker and former Clipper Montrezl Harrell registered 17 points and 10 rebounds.
For the Lakers it is just one of 72 and it is similar to last year where they dropped the first game of the season to the other LA team ,but considering how their respective seasons turned out, there is nothing to worry about yet. For the Clippers, it appeared this would be a replay of the first game , in that a team would get run out of the gym, but to the Lakers’ credit they got back in the game. However as the Lakers made their comeback it undoubtedly brought up memories of their great bubble collapse they suffered in the Bubble. The inability to maintain leads will be something that can again end their season far earlier than the Clippers would like.