What we learned from opening tip-off in the NBA
The NBA swung open its doors to the 2018-19 season Tuesday night. Here’s what we noticed:
The Warriors and the Celtics are both alone in first place — just like it’ll end up in June.
The two best teams in each conference, Boston and Golden State, got wins, with the Warriors working a little harder for theirs.
Boston controlled most of the game against Philadelphia, capitalizing on the 76ers’ biggest potential weakness — a lack of depth. In the shuffle of offseason moves, the 76ers lost free agents Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli to Milwaukee and San Antonio, respectively.
Both players were key pieces for Philadelphia late last season, and on Tuesday, Boston (one of the deepest teams in the NBA) outscored the 76ers’ reserves 44-26, with Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris accounting for 27 alone.
That depth helped handle off-nights for Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, with Hayward looking exceptionally rusty in his first game in a year. Also, Irving is still Boston’s most dynamic player but Jayson Tatum, in just his second year, might be right on his heels.
In Oakland, the Warriors handled the emotion that comes with raising a banner and receiving championship rings in a tight win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Russell Westbrook (knee) didn’t play but could be back soon.
For the Warriors, it was pretty typical — Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry making the biggest plays. New starting center Damian Jones and Kevon Looney combined for 22 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks — great production while Golden State waits for DeMarcus Cousins.
Speaking of the 76ers, ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz wrote a terrific story about the thinking behind Philadelphia’s decision last season to break up the NBA’s best lineup — Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, Robert Covington, J.J. Redick and Ben Simmons — by inserting Markelle Fultz (he was a minus-16 in the opener). You can check it out here.
Line of the night: Klay Thompson 14 points, 5-of-20 FG, 1-of-8 3FG
The Klay Thompson contract year got off to a wildly rocky start, with Thompson missing wide-open shots, helping keep the Thunder in the game late. Last season, Thompson had two worse-shooting games, including a 1-for-11 game against the Thunder.
Wednesday’s game of the night: Denver at Clippers, 7:30 p.m.
If the Clippers are going to crack the playoffs, they’ll probably have to beat out the Nuggets, one of the most promising teams in the Western Conference.
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