5 Predictions Expert Analysts Should Immediately Retract After One Night of NBA
A three-game smack across the face reminded us all why we're idiots as the NBA opened up on Halloween Eve when the Cavaliers took down the Wizards, Miami beat Boston and the Lakers flopped badly against the Mavericks.
That's one of my favorite things about the start of the NBA season, the immediateness of it. There's a general feeling about what's going to go down during the season for a few months, and when you combine that with the buildup that the preseason creates, we get this kind of anxious explosion of wrongness that is just terrific.
Let me throw out a few things I know for sure I was wrong about right off the bat. First, Boston still has a lot of work to do if they want to beat Miami in the playoffs, Miami's just really good. Then there's Dion Waiters. I was completely against him initially, but he had a nice little game for Cleveland. Finally comes Dallas. My bad, Mavericks, I shouldn't ever count out a Rick Carlisle-coached basketball team.
There you go, that's why I suck. Now let's take a look at what pretty much everybody got wrong before the season started so far as we can tell.
5. Los Angeles' Over/under Win Total
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Most of the reports and oddsmakers have the Lakers dominating the Western Conference, setting the over/under win total at 59.5 or 60.5, depending on who you take a look at.
One thing seems for sure after the Lakers struggled with the Dallas Mavericks on opening night; the Lakers are going to have to take some serious time to get oriented and facing in the right direction if they want to get to 60 wins.
Why am I so sure that the Lakers won't be able to reach 60? Well, we've only had nine 60-win teams (or the equivalent of 60 wins last season) in the past five seasons.
The teams that were able to jump up to the 60-win plateau were teams that had been together for at least a year, knew how to play together and, preferably, were in the Eastern Conference.
Los Angeles is going to have to deal with much harsher competition than the teams in the East on a nightly basis, making a trek to 60 even more difficult.
I still say the Lakers have a great shot at a title, but getting coordinated and really coming together in a complex offensive system is going to take some time, and some losses, to really figure out.
4. Randy Wittman Not Being a Disaster
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I was almost ready to accept the notion that Randy Wittman could be good for the Washington Wizards, that he could end up helping them in the playoff race. Then they played the Cavs.
Okay, I'll cut him some slack in that his team was without his two best players, but the way this team played with no conviction until the fourth quarter seemed to be a real sign of things to come for Wittman.
He's been a head coach for six seasons; this is his seventh. In that time he's been fired mid-season once, made the playoffs zero times and finished with 30 wins or more just twice.
I'll go back to remembering Wittman for what he is, a stopgap for teams waiting a season to make a leap forward until the real coach comes in.
3. Dallas Mavericks Doubters
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Dirk Nowitzki's bum knee had everybody selling the Mavericks quicker than Mike Trout rookie cards over the Summer, and it was a legitimate concern.
You know what I and just about every other basketball writer in the world forgot about the Dallas Mavericks? Rick Carlisle is a great coach. Like really good.
As I was watching the Mavericks run an offense around Shawn Marion and Vince Carter (and of course Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo) and a defense around Elton Brand, Brandan Wright and Eddy Curry, I felt like there was a lot to say about Carlisle's coaching prowess.
Dallas never faltered, they never really fell behind too far and when they ended up with the lead they never gave it up.
It's hard to really gauge an entire team based on one game, but it seems like this team could survive even if Dirk Nowitzki goes out for another few weeks at some point during the season.
2. Anderson Varejao's Value
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There's a lot I'm still trying to figure out about Anderson Varejao's game last night. While I'm one of the few people who stuck with it even after the Boston-Heat game started, it all seemed impossible the way he was able to rack up 23 rebounds.
Varejao was helped, of course, by the fact that Nene wasn't in the game and the best rebounding big man Washington had left after Emeka Okafor was Trevor Booker, who's average at best. However, the last time I can remember seeing someone with a legitimate chance to grab every single rebound that came his way was Ben Wallace.
Dwight Howard rebounds because he's huge, Kevin Love rebounds because he's smart, but Varejao rebounds like he might die if he doesn't grab the board.
Over the Summer the hot trade rumor was that the Cavs were thinking about sending Andy to Golden State for Harrison Barnes, the No. 7 pick in the draft. It seems obvious to me now that Andy is worth more than that. Varejao is a legitimate game-changer who can contribute to a championship team.
I'm not so sure that Cleveland would want to trade him at this point; maybe they're down to keep him to help with a playoff run next season.
1. Anything About Jeff Green
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There's been a lot of hope surrounding this Boston Celtics team over the Summer, especially with their new-and-improved bench mob.
Between Jason Terry, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger and even Darko Milicic, it's nearly a given that they'd be a much-improved team, and I still think that's true even after they were blown out by the Miami Heat on opening night.
One thing I can't let happen, however, is the perpetuation of Jeff Green as a game-changer, at least until he proves it by actually, well, changing a game.
If the game against the Heat on Tuesday night showed us anything, it's that Green is most certainly not Worthy, and the comparisons are ridiculous.
Even further, Green isn't even close to being able to guard LeBron James, at least not yet. He couldn't even guard Rashard Lewis last night.
Green's return to basketball is great, for both him and the Celtics, but let's let him get a few months of basketball under his belt before we start making assumptions.