Look, I was very satisfied with the last episode of “As the Harden Turns…” (the actual turning speed depends on the girth of his fat suit) but no one can argue that actually watching the 76ers play is probably just as entertaining as watching the 76ers not play, so let’s consider last night a wash. And despite Harden not being allowed to get on the team plane (is “No U!” a legitimate DNP reason?), the debut of the newly unstoppable pic n’ pop duo of Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo definitely lived up to expectations, with Dame finishing the night with 39 points with 4 assists and 8 rebounds, 12 of those points coming in the fourth quarter (with two free throws that iced the game). Oh, and there’s also this below:
Love how Joel Embiid gets that great flop in too. Or I guess that’s just how you’re supposed to “fall”. Whatever they wanna call it, I guess. Embiid’s look at the end pretty much says it all and would probably be my reaction if Giannis put me on the floor with one arm.
Not to bring up Harden again (intentionally that is, can’t control the unplanned Harden’s, amirite folks?), but in my preseason notes, I had pontificated that the Tyrese Maxey experiment at the one might not work, but it should be at least a bright spot from last night’s game that he had 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and oh yeah, 31 points in that role. It’ll be interesting (not counting the sweet-sweet drama) how this dynamic plays out a few weeks from now…
Overall though, the game was a close one, coming down to the last minute. Obviously, the new look Bucks are off to a great start, showing how dominant and new their offense is, a designed shift from last year’s defensive-minded strategy and it really showed here with a combined 235 points scored. Sixers kept it close and Embiid had a good shot going, Tobias Harris looked fresh and had some nice drives, even Kelly Oubre Jr. had some standout moments. Which is actually scary when you think about it, so tis’ the season I guess!
Over on the West Coast, we had a late night (for meeee) match-up between the Suns and Lakers featuring the first time Kevin Durant and LeBron James had faced off for five years. It was such a historic moment, both Devin Booker and Bradley Beal decided to watch the game from the stands. (Tell me its load management without showing me its load management…) though to be fair, Beal has been dealing with a nagging ankle injury that kept him out most of the preseason.
So what can we say about LeBron that we haven’t already said about LeBron? First, the most important stat of the night was LeBron James playing every minute of the fourth quarter. Now, the 10-point come from behind win was a nice one, but I’m pretty sure I remember this is how Lebron was used last season to keep the Lakers within a shot of the playoffs and it nearly gassed him out of the season. Look, ain’t no one going to complain about 21 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds and a +20, but I’m sure all of us are curious as to how the minutes will shake out, whether or not you think more or less is the way to go.
And after deciding not to score any points in his last second-half of play, Anthony Davis showed up with 30 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists with 3 steals and 3 blocks. Very typical Davis… I mean, not just last night, but his season thus far of not showing up at times to showing up a lot is pretty much who he is at this point. And not to take away from Kevin Durant, who was equally if not more impressive with a +18 in 39 minutes with 39 points and 11 rebounds. He also scored all of the Suns points in the fourth quarter! It was 9, so I’m still deciding if this is an overall good or bad… But as with these two, it’s always health at the end of the day, so here’s hopin’!
Also, I don’t want to talk about it, but Christian Wood was a +23 last night with 7 points and 10 rebounds. Look, I’m not going to take back what I’ve said, but if he can do this consistently, he’ll be very serviceable. But just a reminder this is like his 10th team and until he can do it consistently, I’ll consider him an overall net negative.
Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell.