Gonna try something new on here: Ham’s Hoops Roundup. Hoping to have these out by 8:30 every morning, today is the exception. It’ll be a quick run through anything important that happened in the NBA last night. Scores and Gambling Results. Vines and Videos. And, of course, plenty of takes.
All The NBA You Need, Nothing That You Don’t
Cleveland 117 — New York 88
Cleveland covers (-9.5)
Opening Night! Optimism everywhere! Knicks coke drip just starting to kick in! We’re going to the playoffs! We could make the Eastern Conference Finals! Kristaps is a God Dream! New York Knicks Basketball is Back!
Aaaaaaaand Lebron kicked our teeth in
I’m torn on how to react here. On the one hand, we looked awful. My wildly optimistic Knicks Season preview blog is 90% finished and set to post today and I’m honestly considering (metaphorically) tearing it up and rewriting a new, fresh, wildly depressing preview that reads something like “I hate everything and everyone associated with this franchise except Kristaps, why do I do this to myself”. Derrick Rose is a turnover machine with tunnel vision. Melo has no intention of changing how he plays. Noah is Tide Original Scent High Efficiency Liquid Detergent washed and will never be healthy again. Brandon Jennings played nothing like the guy we saw in the preseason. The bench was pathetic outside of some flashes from Mindy Kuz (shoutout to Mindy Kuz). Hornacek went long stretches with neither KP or Melo on the floor. And worst of all, Rose and Melo took 35 shots between them, 27 of which in isolation, while creating a grand total of two shots for Kristaps. TWO SHOTS created by our primary ball handlers for the best player oand centerpiece of this franchise. Thanks, Phil. Incredible work building this team.
On the other hand… it still was the defending Champs on ring night. For as much time as I spent coke dreaming about Kristaps going 35-15-5 and winning that game yesterday, I never really expected to win that game. We were never beating Lebron James, on ring night, in Cleveland, with all the incentive for him to come out and remind everyone he’s still the best player in the world and the defending champ.
One game, with a starting lineup that’s never played together, with a new coach, against the defending champs… I can write this one off.
*staring back up at myself through a coke-dusted mirror*
“I don’t know man, I still think we can make the Eastern Conference Finals”
Wildly optimistic Knicks preview coming later today!
Oh and “JR Smith, NBA Champion” will never, ever, ever, ever get old.
A+ Troll work on these rings
Portland 113 — Utah 104
Portland covers (-6)
This was the Sneaky Awesome League Pass Game Of The Night. I mean, it was was the only League Pass game of the night and the only close game of the night. I just wanted to introduce that segment.
Regardless, awesome game between Portland and Utah.
Rodney Hood dunked on Evan Turner’s soul
Rudy Gobert had a nice little putback of his own
And Joe Johnson… yes, that Joe Johnson… he’s now on the Jazz… went for 29 on 12-16 shooting #ProfessionalBucketGetter
But Portland was too much. McCollum picked up right where he left off last season with 25 points. Allen Crabbe poured in a sneaky 18. Noah Vonleh showed up with the A$AP Rocky dreads and hit all five of his shots. Meyers Leonard debuted his new Thundercats haircut.
And Dame kicked off his MVP campaign that I may or may not have VERY accurately compared to Steph Curry’s 2014 MVP season in my MVP blog yesterday #StayWoke with a quiet little 39-9-6 line on 13-20 shooting. Not saying… Just saying. Whatevs. NBD
Do not sleep on this Portland team.
San Antonio 129 — Golden State 100
San Antonio covers (+8)
Remember when I also said yesterday that Kawhi Leonard had no elite teammates?
Can’t win em all, right?
Turns out Kawhi Leonard does have an elite teammate after all. Guess he is playing with another top 20 player in the league. Egg on my face. So stupid. How could I forget Jonathan Simmons is is a superstar?
That dunk might be the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever seen. Clock winding down, up 27 points, and Simmons waved his teammates out of the way to set up that drive. Threw it down on JaVale’s head, of all people. So disrespectful. So mean. And so, so, so awesome. Jonathan Simmons is my new favorite non-Kristaps-or-JR player in the NBA and also my spirit animal. What a night.
As for Golden State…
Look, I know we shouldn’t overreact. They’re still a juggernaut. They still have more elite talent than we’ve ever seen. They’ll be fine.
San Antonio won that game more than Golden State lost it. Kawhi was the best player on the court and WILL win the MVP this season. LaMarcus Aldridge abused the Warriors inside and showed that maybe I was wrong not to call him a top 20 guy. Simmons was an animal. Paddy Mills caused havoc all over the court. Manu brought his A+ Manu game. And Pop had his guys ready to play. Golden State will be fine. Maybe this is just the kick in the ass they needed, right?
But like… I mean… is there a chance they’re permanently scarred from the Finals? Could the 3-1 comeback have killed their spirit?
Championship Loss Hangover isn’t something we typically see in the NBA. Football, Baseball, Hockey we see it all the time. ALL the time. Look at the Mets and Panthers. But rarely do we see it in the NBA. In fact, three of the last five titles were won by the team that lost the previous year.
The thing is… that wasn’t a typical Finals loss. And this isn’t a typical team.
Remember, it’s not just the returning Warriors who blew a 3-1 lead to end their season. Kevin Durant blew a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals. Everyone important on this 2016-17 Warriors team choked away the end of last season.
So much of basketball is confidence. Confidence that you’re better than your opponent. Confidence in your ability to keep shooting through slumps. Confidence to want to take the ball in a big moment. I’m not saying any of these guys lack confidence in their ability. I’m just saying maybe there’s a seed of doubt starting to creep in. Maybe the embarrassment of choking away the biggest moment of your career… or of costing your team the Finals by getting suspended… or of lowkey disappearing in the last three games… or of getting locked down by Kevin Love with the Championship on the line… or of leaving your team to play with your biggest Rival who you just blew a 3-1 lead to… or of creating a Superteam that everyone now hates…
Maybe that kills your confidence. Maybe you can’t fully recover from that. And maybe the pressure of knowing that you have no excuses now and that you absolutely, unequivocally can not NOT win the title this year creates an environment where you can’t get that confidence back so easily.
Not saying… Just saying…
Alright. Full slate of games tonight. Tomorrow’s Ham’s Hoops Roundup should be a little shorter and out by 8:30 in the morning. The NBA is back, and my god how sweet it is.
Oh and last thing… League Pass is gonna have to do something about this.