Opening Night Game Predictions:
Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers
We once again start the season off in “The Land”, where last year, LeBron and co. dominated a dysfunctional Knicks team. This year, we see the much anticipated Kyrie vs LeBron grudge match between two much better teams. Not to mention, I guarantee that Jae Crowder stares down Brad Stevens and that he trips Gordon Hayward at least twice. The Celtics will trot out their starting lineup of Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown being forced to play the 2, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford (lying to himself that he is power forward rather than the perfect small-ball 5), and big Aron Baynes, with exciting rookie Jayson Tatum and their real power forward, Marcus Morris. The Cavs will start with the 2011 all stars of D-Rose and Dwyane Wade in the backcourt, LeBron and Jae Crowder at forwards, and Kevin Love giving his first try at starting center. Off the bench, they have two of last year’s starters with J.R. and Tristian Thompson, all with their final new asset, Isaiah Thomas, trying to fix his hip. I was originally going to pick the Cavs in an easy win as LeBron exerts his will upon poor Hayward, but there are now reports that LeBron has hurt his calf and his doubtful for his game. Even if he plays, he won’t go all out, and combine that with a metrics-nightmare backcourt with Rose and old man Wade, and I don’t think the Cavs will look that great. I think Kyrie is super motivated to score while the Cavs struggle to defend Brad Steven’s brilliant offensive schemes.
Celtics 108 Cavaliers 102 – leading scorer: Kyrie Irving – 35 points
The other opening game is a battle between the ultimate super team and the team that tries to keep pace with them, the Rockets. Last year, the Dubs came out flat against the Spurs and got their butts handed to them courtesy of Kawhi, Jonathon Simmons, and Coach Poppovich. Curry was the only one of the core 4 who really showed up to play that night. Klay was firing up bricks, Kevin Durant looked confused and unaggressive, and Draymond was yelling at everybody. So one thing to remember is that a loss tonight probably won’t do anything to the Warriors’ quest for a 3rd title. They could lose by 40 and I’d still bet the house that they raise the O’Brien trophy in June. But that was just a warning for over-reacters, I believe the Dubs will get the dub in their first game. I like the Rockets as a team a lot. They are a metrics dream with the “point god”, Chris Paul, now running the show with the best shooting guard in the league and reigning assist king James Harden. I think the losses of Beverly, Dekker, and Lou-Will will hurt, but whenever you can trade for a top 15 player in the league, you should usually do it. P.J. Tucker is always a solid addition, and everyone is forgetting about my favorite 6th man, the lights-out Eric Gordon. If anyone can beat the Warriors in a 3-point shootout, it’s D’Antoni, CP3, Harden, and the rest of the Houston gunslingers playing Moreyball. Last year, the Rockets made 4.4 more 3 pointers per game than their opponents, making them one of the most efficient shooting teams of all time. However, despite the Warriors only making 3.0 more 3-balls per game, the Rockets attempted an earth-shattering 11.4 more deep bombs than their opponents did, while Golden State shot relatively the same amount of 3s. I think Curry, Klay, and Durant are just too much for any team to handle, and Kerr’s offensive system is the most brilliant one ever developed. I’ll take the Warriors in a late-night shootout.
Warriors 128 Rockets 117