Night one of the NBA season and god DAMN does it feel good to be back. Back to Basketball Twitter. Back to League Pass. Back to Mike Breen Bang!’s and Kevin Harlan cackles. Back to starting Thursdays with the last five minutes of Bones and waking up on your couch at 3am to Castle. Back to fun storylines and personable players. Back dope highlights and hilarious moments. Back to League Pass Alerts. Back to dunks and heat checks and game winners that engulf the internet in flame emojis and caps lock tweets. And most importantly… back to the Ham’s Hoops Roundup.
I started the Ham’s Hoops Roundup last year so that you’d have one place to go digest every relevant NBA moment from the previous night. Every must-see highlight. Every funny moment. Every dazzling performance. Every tight contest. Every bit of league news. Everything that mattered – plus a few basketball takes and internet jokes from your good friend Ham sprinkled in between.
All so that you could get a full picture from around the league while killing ten minutes on the john, at your desk, our getting coffee, whatever. Everything that matters. All in one place. Everything.
Wiiiiiiith that being said I’m gonna break that promise from the jump. I didn’t put the Gordon Hayward video in here. Anyone who’s seen it knows they don’t need to see it again and anyone who hasn’t seen it probably hasn’t for a reason.
I’ll just say quickly though that was a surreal moment. I had the Yankees-Astros game on TV and Cavs-Celtics on my phone and there was enough of a delay that I saw Tweetdeck light up with “OH NOOOOO” and “OH MY GOD” before the play. Which means I thought some poster dunk was coming. I was prepping for some insane throw down… not Gordon Haywards foot detaching from his goddamn leg.
Maybe this is a wild overreaction on my part… but there was a season-defining four run eight inning Yankees comeback in Game 4 of the ALCS and I was still so shook that I didn’t jump off the sofa like I naturally would. I was still sitting there tensed up a full hour later and didn’t even realize until I went to stand up.
I have no idea how the Celtics, or the Cavs, got it together after that. I held my breath every time someone attacked the rim and it took until the last few minutes to stop thinking that. But they found a way to get past it enough to play the game and they put on a very entertaining show. Let’s get to the scores and highlights…
Scores from Tuesday, October 17th:
(Home team in CAPS)
CLEVELAND 102 – Boston 99
Houston 122 – GOLDEN STATE 121
oh yeah wait…
Bobby Portis Broke Nikola Mirotic’s Face
What’s a maxillary fracture, you ask? It’s a broken face. Literally a broken face. Bobby Portis had enough of Niko Mirotic that his broke his face.
Understandably lost behind the Hayward injury was the far that Bobby Portis and Niko Mirotic got in a fight in practice and Bobby BROKE HIS FACE. We were like 45 minutes away from opening tip and this popped up on the timeline. I’ll still hold that the Knicks own the title belt in dysfunction and likely will so long as James Dolan owns the team. But god damn if Chicago isn’t making a quiet little run of their own these last two years.
What a reintroduction to JR. This is god level code switching. And while I’m not entirely sure I can say that I mean it in the most complimentary way possibly. God damn I love this man.
Jaylen and Jayson Are For Real
There’s no way to replace Gordon Hayward… but shit if the kids didn’t at least give Boston fans a little semblance of hope last night. Jaylen Brown was absolutely unafraid to bring it to LeBron last night and is already starting to flash that Paul George-esque super-athlete turned superstar potential. Give me a super athletic guy who really gives a shit and who utilizes that athleticism on defense and I’ll put up with his flaws. Kawhi, George, Butler, Giannis. All those guys were hyper-competitive guys with superior athleticism. I’ll always, always take a chance on those guys. And Jaylen is cut right from that mold. It’s the same reason I won’t give up on Justise Winslow. You can develop a jump shot. You can’t develop that athleticism or that competitiveness. Jaylen has those in spades and is already improving as a shooter despite missing 7 of 9 threes last night. That dude is going to go to war with LeBron, Durant, Kawhi, Giannis, George, Butler, etc. and even if he never reaches their level he’ll always be a guy you feel confident throwing at those guys for four quarters.
And while Jayson Tatum won’t be Gordon Hayward anytime soon, especially not on the defensive end, he was impressive last night after an understandably rattled first quarter and a half. His offensive game is outrageously polished for a 19 year old. So while the jump from playing backups off the bench to now having to face most team’s best perimeter defender is undoubtedly massive, it’s something I think he’ll handle better than expected. What you have to worry about now is not being able to hide him defensively. Especially in games where Smart and/or Brown aren’t hitting threes and Stevens wants more offense on the floor around Kyrie. The ten rebounds were encouraging. But that physicality is bound to wear him down playing 30+ minutes a game rather than the 24-25 they were originally expecting.
Bron Still Bron
29-16-9 on a bum ankle. Handful of outrageous passes. Complete control the whole time.
One of these days we’ll sit here after Opening Night asking if that’s it for LeBron. If his game is finally starting to drop off. If he’s fallen out of the top spot. This ain’t that year.
Golden State Gets Their Rings.
Whatever. This is the only moment that mattered.
I can’t find the tweet but someone last night tweeted “someone told Swaggy before the game he’ll get a ring if he goes for 50” and I’m 100% positive that actually happened. Whether he took that as a funny form of motivation or genuinely believed it… that doesn’t matter. What matters is that Swaggy came out and put on one of the most enjoyable irrational confidence debuts I’ve ever seen. Swaggy heard this team was cool with hoisting and god damn did he hoist.
Having Pierre and Swaggy together again… as the lone lovable members of this otherwise corn cob team… is an absolute blessing.
Welcome To The NBA, Jordan Bell!
China (Food) Klay
Hilarious moment when the cameras caught fat fake Klay last night. Dudes out here in the full fit like Cousin Arnie behind the bench. I 1) respect the hell out of his dedication to the goatee and fade, and 2) very much forward to using picture for the rest of thee NBA season. I love this league.
Basketball Is Still Dope And Maybe Even Doper
That was a really really fun last six minutes. And maybe I was just so happy for basketball to be back/was popping over to the baseball game at breaks, but it does feel like with both games the new lesser timeout rules quickened the pace. Again, maybe I’m wrong. But I’m VERY juiced to see how much of a difference less timeouts makes going forward.
And KD Is Still Nails
No, it didn’t count. But anyone and everyone watching knew that was going in the second he caught that tip out. Never a doubt in my mind.
KD is corny. Just the corniest, most swagless superstar we’ve ever seen. On Bill Simmons podcast the other day Haralabob Vulgaris said KD reached out to him desperately hoping to meet the world’s single biggest tool and most fraudulent human Dan Bilzerian. That’s one of the lamest things I’ve ever heard. Ever.
But right now it’s basically all we have to hold onto because Kevin Durant is infuriatingly great at basketball and is fully aware of that fact. That shot was never not going in. And when it matters it won’t be late.
It’s Gonna Take Some Time For This Chris Paul Thing To Work
You’ll notice from that clip that there’s a pretty notable absence in the form of Chris Paul. They sat him down the stretch and went back to the James Harden and four shooters rotation that carried them until the end of the Spurs series last year. Partially because they looked disjointed with Paul and Harden out there together. But also, and most importantly, because they felt it best to go back to what they knew down the stretch against this Warriors team.
It’s game one. There’s another 81 opportunities for them to figure this out. And when you have a player as hot as Gordon was and a lineup that’s working really well and it’s the first game of the season – D’Antoni made the right call.
The Rockets Bench Was Awesome
What a fucking game from Gordon (24 points), Mbah-a-Moute (14 and 4), and especially Tucker (20-6-5 with 4 threes).
PJ Tucker won’t go for those numbers every night. But that dude is everything we thought he might be able to bring to a contender while he was stuck in Phoenix. Toughness. Defense. Rebounding. Floor spacing. And while we didn’t see Draymond (or Iggy) out there down the stretch, Tucker does feel like ideal fit for Houston to try countering the Warriors death lineup.
That Harden-Gordon-Tucker-Ariza-Mbah A Moute crunch time unit was fascinating and… as wild an overreaction as this might be… did look per-Durant Warriors Death Lineup-esque with that defensive length and switchability and offensive spacing.
Like I said, the Chris Paul situation will have to be worked out. And I think it will ultimately work. But the spacing and defensive ability of that five man crunch time lineup is something D’Antoni has to be salivating over after last night.
Draymond Is Still The Most Important Warrior
I don’t know if people are still even having this discussion but I don’t know how anyone can argue against it. Draymond is invaluable.
Durant is the second best player in the world. Curry is the fourth and the greatest shooter ever. Klay might be high I don’t know. But Draymond’s defensive presence is what keeps the floor of the Warriors so much higher than everyone else’s. Take him out, that floor drops and leaves them much more susceptible to losing games here and there as teams continue to treat every Warriors game like a playoff game trying to knock off the champs.
Just something to keep in mind as a gambler. Especially after this news today…
I’m using that title because of who this is about but I actually kind of like the idea of having a “Last Take” on every HHR with a First Take-esque take on something from the night before. Anyway…
Skip is getting all the attention for this tweet. I still don’t understand how people with a basic understanding of what Skip does can lose their minds over this. When I saw this last night I almost dropped phone and applauded. This is the type of hot take that only a handful of people are capable of. It’s like when they say a guitar player can actually see the music. It’s not a talent… it’s a gift.
But the tweet that actually got me harder was Stephen A. “Look at his leg” Yes, look at it. What a damn shame. A fascinating take on grievance from Stephen A.
And also a callback to the absolute GOAT tweet.
TAke a look at his leg, y’all: IMG_4346.jpeg
Schedule Wednesday, October 18th:
Philadelphia @ Washington (-7) ESPN
Charlotte @ Detroit (-3)
Brooklyn @ Indiana (-3)
Miami @ Orlando (+3)
Milwaukee @ Boston (-5.5)
New Orleans @ Memphis (-2.5)
Atlanta @ Dallas (-6.5)
Denver @ Utah (-2)
Minnesota @ San Antonio (-2) ESPN
Portland @ Phoenix (+1.5)
Houston @ Sacramento (+8)