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What we’ve learned from the first week of the NBA season

After just three nights of action, it might be a little too early for experts to draw too many conclusions pertaining to the new NBA season. Fortunately, the Sports Bloke isn’t an expert and is more than happy to pontificate on the games he’s watched so far.

It’s all just a little bit of history repeating Part 1
Anyone under the misapprehension that the addition of Shaquille O’Neal would propel the Cavaliers to that elusive first championship will surely feel chastened after Cleveland, despite two titanic performances from Lebron James, lost their opening two games to Boston and Toronto.
The Cavs were made to look lumbering as they were outfought by the Celtics and outpaced by the Raptors. Their shortlived attempt to evoke the 1986 Houston Rockets’ Twin Towers offence using Shaq and Big Z was truly horrible and quickly ditched. Even worse, in the crucial moments in the Celtics game, “coach” Mike Brown reverted to the “give it to Lebron and stand aside” ploy that drew so much criticism in last season’s playoffs. Despite signing a rash of free agents and hyping their chances for the year, it seems the Cavs have left LBJ bereft of the second and third wheels he so desperately needs.

The wisdom of NBA scouts shines through again
Two words. Dejuan Blair. The Spurs rookie might not have any ACLs but, judging by his double-double against the Hornets (14 points and 11 boards on 7-of-10 shooting), he’s got just about everything else. Conventional scouting wisdom over Blair’s slim chances of a long-term career caused team after team to pass on him in the draft. He slipped down into the second round where he was picked up by the Spurs whose point surely was: even if his career lasts three years, at least we get three years of low cost, high production from the guy so why not sign him? Why not, indeed?

Kevin McHale has the worst posture in television history
International League Pass used TNT’s coverage of opening night which meant viewers from all around the world got to see the ever-excellent banter between EJ, Kenny Smith and Sir Charles at half time and after the games. I was looking forward to this until, inexplicably, TNT returned to the studio for a segment where, rather than being sat behind their desks, the team, replete with new addition Kevin McHale, did a segment where they were standing on the studio floor. Look, I know basketball players are tall, but McHale loomed over Ernie Johnson in a manner akin to Herman Munster. I was glad to see the Celtics legend back behind a desk for Thursday’s coverage.

SVG not impressed by pre-game hoopla
The Orlando Magic were playing there first home game of the season, also their first since becoming Eastern Conference champions. The fans were in fine voice, the players buzzing for their first meaningful action and the PA announcer doing his level best to hype things to the absolute maximum. After introducing Howard, Nelson, Carter and Co, the announcer got to Stan Van Gundy. Cue a close-up of the portly porn star coach looking about as interested as a teenage son being taught how to rewire a plug by his father. C’mon Stan, it’s the first week of the season, stop killing our buzz.

It’s all just a little bit of history repeating Part 2
It may be unfair to draw conclusions after just one game, but the Knicks blowout at the hands of the Miami Heat suggested that Mike (No D’) Antoni has again failed to address the defensive issues that made his team an entertaining liability for the whole of last season. Things didn’t look too bad for two quarters with Jared “Mr Fumbles” Jeffries switching to guard Mario Chalmers. Sadly for the Knicks, the Heat worked out D’Antoni’s scheme after a quarter and a half and, with no Plan B, the Knicks subsided to an all-too-familiar 20 point road defeat.

The return of the Dos Equis advert
Yes, the most interesting man in the world is back, occasionally experiencing moments of self-doubt and living vicariously through himself. I live in the UK and this advert had been sadly missing from my life since the League Pass coverage of the NBA finals. In these five months, I have found out that Dos Equis is available in one place in London (a Mexican restaurant in Covent Garden). For me, the Dos Equis ad is inexorably associated with watching basketball and seeing it again was like meeting up with an old friend. It was the icing on the cake of the end of basketball’s tedious summer drought. Stay thirsty, my friends.


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NBA season on the sofa: opening night live blog

The long wait is finally over, the 2009/10 NBA season is upon us. And if you thought the time difference and having a day job would stop the Sports Bloke from delivering his thoughts on baskteball’s opening night from his London lair, you’d be badly mistaken.

With Lebron, Shaq, KG, Jesus, Paul Pierce, Dirk, Gilbert, Brandon Roy, Boom Dizzle and Kobe and Co all on show, the NBA’s opening night promises much. The only big name absentee will be the Clippers No 1 draft pick Blake Griffin, whose fractured kneecap is likely to keep him off the court for six weeks.

With the clock ticking towards tip-off, it’s time to boot up League Pass and settle in for some high quality hoops. God, I’ve missed the NBA!

League Pass is showing a test card as opposed to player warm-ups. Hmmmmmm

Multi-coloured screen of death is no substitute for hoops. It’s 6-2 Celtics, but I can’t see it.

So, 130 US dollars isn’t enough to persuade the NBA to provide a service that works. Found a less legal stream that works. It’s 19-5 to the Cavs and I have no idea what these Chinese commentators are saying.

League Pass finally trundles into action. We have live and legal hoops but I’ve missed most of the first quarter. 26-17 Cavs. Rasheed Wallace seems to be auditioning for a part in a Kid N Play video with his new haircut.

Enormous block on Rondo by Lebron. That’s his third rejection of the game (as many as the Knicks managed in the whole of last season).

Aside from a smooth Marquis Daniels drive to the hoop, it’s been raining bricks in the final two minutes of the first quarter. Cavs lead 28-21 at the break.

Is it me or does Milos in the South West Airlines advert look a lot like Michael Phelps?

Woo-hoo! My favourite American advert. I haven’t seen it since the NBA finals. Stay thirsty, my friends!

Cavs can’t buy a bucket. And yes, Lebron is on the bench. Haven’t we seen somewhere before? No field goals for five minutes.

Sheed drains a rainbow three. 32-32.

Humility from Shaq re: not taking LBJ’s spotlight. We’ll see how long that lasts this year. Just ask Penny, Kobe, D-Wade or Nash.

Instant replay disallows Lebron’s last basket for a shot clock violation. Are you watching, Bud Selig?

Half time. Celts up 51-45. 7 of 9 from three.

Away we go in Dallas. No sound – thanks again League Pass. I’m really feeling the value for money right now. Gilbert opens the scoring with two free throws.

Looks like Sir Charles has fallen off the diet wagon again. I know how that goes. Still no sound on Wiz vs Mavs. It’s like watching an Oakland Athletics home game.

Shaq leathers KG with a hard foul. Lovely reverse from Rondo. 59-47 Celtics.

Still trying to recover from Slam’s tweet comparing Kevin McHale to Herman Munster. It’s what we were all thinking.

Sloppy play from the Celtics. Cavs get three straight stops. A big Anthony Parker three forces a Doc Rivers time out. Ten point game.

Stay thirsty, my friends. Again.

Ray Allen takes three and half steps before getting fouled at the rim. The new crackdown on travelling has officially lasted two and a half quarters.

Lebron’s heating up now. Gets his fourth block, drains a three then earns an and1 taking it to the hoop. 72-65 Celtics after three quarters.

Roadhouse Blues by The Doors. Good work, TNT.

Cavs go to their Twin Towers line-up: Shaq and Big Z. 80-71 Celtics.

Wizards 10 points up on the Mavs after scoring on 8 straight possessions.

Garnett runs the floor, rises up and, erm, blows the dunk. No Boston field goals for almost four minutes. Cavs within five.

Just as it seems neither team will ever score again, LBJ ends the collective brick-fest with a glorious three pointer to cu the lead to four. Celtics cold as the worst possible time.

With 3:42 left in the game, Shaq gets to the line for the first time. Is this some sort of record?

Pierce drains a jumper with 1:08 left – Celts lead by six. Seconds earlier, Rondo performed heroics on the offensive boards but failed to convert.

Great replay of Celts GM Danny Ainge calling for the hack-a-Shaq in the final minutes. He is greyer than Desert Orchid.

Dagger from Paul Pierce. He did nothing all second half then made two crucial shots in the final minute. Ain’t that The Truth.

After a free throw fest in the final seconds, Celtics close out for a 95-89 win. Lebron had 38 but it wasn’t enough. Celts record their first win in Cleveland since 2004. Hold tight for the Lakers ring presentation.

Class move from the Lakers. Bringing back legends of the past for the ring ceremony. West, Worthy, Nixon, AC Green and Magic. Big Jack seems to approve.

Special congratulations to Marko the Lakers massage therapist. That’s worth a ring is it, mate?

Someone should take Adam Morrison’s ring away. It’s not deserved.

It’s very rare to see Kobe this happy. He looks in his element, almost bursting with pride.

It must kill Charles Barkley to watch Adam Morrison pick up a championship ring.

Will the Clippers gatecrash the Lakers’ party or just make up the numbers? I’m leaning towards the latter owing to Mike Dunleavy’s unparalleled ability to demotivate players in any given situation.

Blake Griffin in street clothes for six weeks. Will the curse of the Clippers ever cease?

Kobe completes an and1 and a sweet fadeaway to hear MVP chants two minutes into the season. I’m guessing that is some sort of record.

Ron Artest is sporting a Lakers ‘L’ and other intricate designs on his head. Aside from being called for a soft offensive foul and putting up a rather desperate finger roll, it’s been a quiet start for Ron Ron.

Wizards complete a convincing 102-91 win over the Mavericks while Portland are cruising against Houston, leading 46-32 in the second quarter. Andre Miller has stopped sulking long enough to record five assists.

Who dresses Craig Sager? Stevie Wonder?

Nine turnovers for the Clippers in the first quarter. Great way to start the season. Lakers lead 32-22 after one without really breaking sweat.

I’m starting to struggle now – been awake for 22 hours, Anyway, with the Laker starters taking a breather, the Clippers cut the lead to three with an 11-1 run. Kobe’s back on the court unsurprisingly.

Another Clippers turnover. Dunleavy squints his disapproval.

A last second Bynum bucket makes it 59-49 Lakers at half time.

One point game after three quarters. 76-75 Lakers.

An 18-6 runs puts away the Clippers. Solid efforts from Kobe and Odom, Final score Lakers 99, Clippers 92. Time for bed. Goodnight all.

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Filed under Basketball, nba, Season on the sofa