Obviously, this is a New Jersey Nets blog, however, the NAS crew absolutely love the NBA in general. So, every week, Mark, Devin, Evan, Justin, Danny, and myself will answer questions regarding the L.
1) The Miami Heat lost their first game of the season to the Boston Celtics and while they valiantly came back to make it an interesting game, they still lost. It was obvious the chemistry wasn’t there yet, so how many games before the Heat get that chemistry and start kicking butt?
Mark: I think they’re going to have some hiccups between now and the end of 2010, but with the pieces they have there, and with Mike Miller due back in January, I can see them going on the mother-of-all-tears in January and finish the season as the undisputed team to beat in the postseason (at which point, they will lose to the Celtics in the second round).
Evan: Nothing would make me happier than to see the Miami Heat struggle all season and never get the right chemistry to win 65-plus games. But I’m a realist and I know that the talent of The Big Three will eventually outweigh any chemistry issues they have. Although it looked at times in their first two games like they didn’t practice once all preseason, I don’t think it will take very long to turn that around. If their schedule were a bit tougher, I’d say the Heat would struggle finding the right way to play together into late November. But a stretch of six straight home games in the middle of the month will be what they need to get on track. They won’t have to worry about traveling anywhere, and will have plenty of time to iron out any issues they have in practice. The Heat have 16 more games between now and the end of November, and I’d be surprised if they don’t win at least 12 of those games.
Justin: It’s very hard to put a number on that kind of thing, but I think barring any injury setbacks, this team will be clicking pretty well by Christmas time. Up till then, they’ll continue beating teams with pure talent like we saw against the Sixers. Making judgments based on how they looked against the Celtics could be a mistake. Let’s not forgot the Celtics were about one quarter away from winning the NBA Championship last season and their core has been together for a number of years. Also, the Celtics defense is one of the best, if not the best in the NBA, and on most nights they will make teams look like they have bad chemistry.
DV: The saying goes, “The cream always rises above everything else that is now below them” or something like that. The talent of The Big Three is too good to deny the Miami Heat winning 60+ games. The team is rusty right now with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James befalling to injury at some point during the preseason. And, let’s not forget, that Boston Celtics club is pretty good. I expect the engine to start running smoothly by the end of November because “the cream always rises to the top”… hey, I should make that a saying!
2) The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics in the Cavs’ first game without LeBron James. Is the news of their demise premature? Or was this victory an anomaly in what will be a long season?
Mark: I don’t think the Cavs are going to be very good this year, but I’m not shocked by their opening night victory against Boston. They had an old Celtics team playing a back-to-back, flying to Cleveland, after playing a very emotional game against Miami the night before. I think the Celtics are going to be on the wrong end of a lot of these kinds of games this season – back-to-backs, long road trips, etc. As for the Cavs, I actually really like Byron Scott as the coach out there, and if anyone can get those guys to overachieve, I think it’s him. I can see Cleveland fighting for one of the last playoff spots in the East. Keep in mind that the Bulls still won 50+ games after Jordan first retired – granted they had Scottie Pippen on their roster, but given how top heavy the Eastern Conference is, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Cavs eek out 38-42 wins.
Evan: The Cleveland Cavaliers played very inspired basketball Wednesday night in their win over the Celtics. But unfortunately for Cavs fans, it will not be a sign of things to come this season. Boston was playing the second leg of a back-to-back and had an emotional “playoff-like” win over the Heat the night before… and they still almost won in Cleveland. So while starting 1-0 will certainly give Cleveland fans the sense of hope that they can win without LeBron, it will be short-lived and they will soon find themselves among the basement dwellers of the Eastern Conference.
DV: Okay, let’s kick the ballistics here, remember how Nino Brown would give a free piece of product in New Jack City, but then make ridiculous dough off the now addicted victim? This is what that win is like. It’s all nice in the beginning and you’re having laughs galore, but then reality sets in and there’s really nothing to laugh about anymore. However, there will probably be moments of guffawing as this team isn’t lacking talent. J.J. Hickson should do well now that there are lower expectations for the Cavs. Mo Williams and Ramon Sessions could form a really nice small-ball backcourt. And Antawn Jamison didn’t all of a sudden fall into suckitude, did he?
3) Speaking of LeBron (yes, more of him), what are your thoughts on his latest Nike commercial?
Mark: I really won’t change my stance from last week. On one hand, it’s nice to see that he’s demonstrating more awareness to the fact that his decision in July was really quite unpopular. LeBron and his handlers can pander for sympathy all the way. They’re not going to get it from fans like me. If Nike thinks they can use this to sell sneakers, more power to them.
Evan: I have not been shy about my feelings towards LeBron James and the Miami Heat: I can’t stand them. However I will admit that I like this new Nike commercial. While I may be attracted to the graphics and production more than what LBJ has to say, I think it was very well-done and brought back memories of some of Nike’s great commercials from the past. My favorite part was the shout-out to Charles Barkley, which Chuck publicly admitted that he liked and thought was very funny. Even though I don’t believe for a second that LeBron doesn’t care what people think about him (because he is an egomaniac that can’t stand for people not to like him), I did enjoy the commercial.
DV: I thought the concept of the commercial was very creative and I honestly really like the commercial. However, it’ll never beat this David Robinson commercial because The Admiral actually shows personality in it and even disses David Stern. In any case, I am totally not buying into what the message of the commercial is trying to say – “Should I really listen to you dummies?” Of course not, LeBron, but I’m listening to you either. To me, this commercial was the equivalent of Megan Fox wanting to be taken seriously as an actress. Really?