In The Baseline, we take a look back at the action from the night before, and break it down. Check back every morning to see what you might have missed.
The Raptors have playoff aspirations this year, and the first preseason game was the first step. They will need to find an offense that can utilize both Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan (who really can’t shoot). Coach Dwane Casey is on his last leg, so we will see how Toronto does this season. The Celtics are on the opposite end, and they plan on having a bad season so they can gather some good players through the draft. When watching these games, you have to remember that not all players are giving full effort, and it is more about coaches trying to figure things out with their systems and lineups. For Boston in this one, they were trying out Avery Bradley out as the starting point guard, and he played well with 12 points and 3 assists. The rookie Kelly Olynyk had only 4 points, but he passed well with 5 assists. Gerald Wallace is looking to have a bounce back season, and he looked nice with 16 points off the bench. For the Raptors, they shot well (52%), and Rudy Gay had 17 points on 7 for 11 shooting. He had surgery to correct his eyesight, and maybe that’s helping. They were a little rusty with 25 turnovers, and Tyler Hansbrough proved it was preseason with 17 points and 9 rebounds. The Raptors won 97-88.
The Miami Heat started their title defense in Miami, and they looked impressive. DeMarre Carroll did a good job defending Lebron James, holding him to 1 of 4 in the first quarter, and he scored just 9 points all game. Chris Bosh stole the show, scoring 21 points in a myriad of ways. The Heat were up by as much as 20 points through the first half, and when the starters were pulled, the Hawks came back. The Hawks looked as if they were still trying to find out how to run their coach Mike Budenholzer’s system, and it cost them. They didn’t play good team defense, and their floor spacing was poor. They will have to figure some things out as the preseason goes on. Mike Scott looks like he is trying to prove he belongs (his contract is non-guaranteed), as he scored 13 points. Paul Millsap scored 12 in his Atlanta debut. The Heat took this one 92-87, but the score doesn’t show what really happened in this one. The bigger story is that Gustavo Ayon for the Hawks left in the 1st quarter with an arm injury.
This one was played in St. Louis, but the Bulls were the home team. Derrick Rose continues to show that he still has his trademark explosiveness, and that he has no setbacks. He only played 23 minutes, but had 13 points. He didn’t shoot well, but he should improve on that as time goes on. Carlos Boozer scored 16, and Kirk Hinrich had 15 off the bench. The Grizzlies are under a new head coach with David Joerger, and they are out to prove they can be successful again this season. The game was close through most of it, and the Grizzlies looked good. Marc Gasol didn’t play, and no one really stuck out. Jarryd Bayless had 15 points, and Mike Miller looked good with 8 points and 2 for 2 from downtown. The Grizzlies had 20 turnovers, and that led to 25 points for the Bulls. Chicago pulled away at the end, and won 106-87.
CSKA Moscow at Minnesota Timberwolves-
While the NBA is overseas playing the “Global Games,” CSKA Moscow came here to play the Timberwolves. The Wolves have some new pieces, and they are thinking playoffs. It looks like they’re going to have some fun this season, and their chemistry was visible. They said they were willing to make Kevin Love a facilitator, and it worked. Love had 5 assists, and the offense was flowing when he was on the court. Derrick Williams lost weight during the summer, and he looked impressive. Williams had 10 in the 4th quarter, and had 21 overall. He missed the game winning bucket, so that meant overtime during the preseason. CSKA Moscow won 108-106.
I owe Monta Ellis an apology. I have been saying he doesn’t play smart basketball, and I don’t trust that he will change his game. Well, Ellis came out and was making an effort to pass, and he had 4 assists in the 1st quarter alone. As for the rest of the Mavericks, nobody else really stood out. Brendan Wright had 15 points off the bench, but no one else took over. Jrue Holiday looked more comfortable for the Pelicans, and he had 13 points and 6 assists. If you missed what Anthony Davis was doing last year, then you are going to be in for a shock when he has a great season. Davis scored over 20 points for the second time this preseason, as he scored 25 last night. Brian Roberts was having a phenomenal game, and he scored 17 points off the bench. The Pelicans won 94-92 after Ricky Ledo missed at the buzzer.
Maccabai Haifa at Phoenix Suns -
The Suns also faced off against a foreign team, but they would have a different result. New Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said he wants to see this team run, and they backed up his talk. The Suns probably won’t be very good this year, but they pummeled their foreign foe last night. I don’t like Eric Bledsoe as much as others (there’s a place for guys who come off the bench for energy, and they don’t make good stars), but he was impressive last night. Bledsoe thrived in this up-tempo offense, and he had 22 points and 5 steals. All of the Suns looked good, and they had 6 players in double figures. Ultimately the Suns won 130-89, and every player that played for the Suns scored.
Doc Rivers has said that DeAndre Jordan has been the best player in the Clippers’ training camp, and Jordan backed him up. He ended up with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 steals in 21 minutes. He looks like he might be the defensive anchor they need, and the Clippers could be in for a historic season. The Clippers will be better in the half-court under Rivers, but they still got out and ran with 16 fast break points. The key is that they will now be a team that will always have movement, rather than a team that stares at Chris Paul. They played well defensively, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul both scored in double figures. J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes, and Reggie Bullock didn’t play for LA. As for Portland, they looked rusty. They had 23 turnovers and only shot 35% from the field. Damian Lillard was 0 for 5 from beyond the arc, and no Blazer was really in rhythm. Only 3 Blazers scored in double figures, and this was more about what the Clippers did, than what the Blazers didn’t. LA won 89-81.
Andre Iguodala has looked really good in the first 2 preseason games. Also, Klay Thompson coming off the bench has worked really well for him, and we may be looking at a Sixth Man of the Year candidate. The Warriors had 22 fast break points, and broke the game open late. David Lee’s fit has been questioned on this team, but he played well with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Overall, the Warriors looked like they are going to be fun to watch, and that they should be taken seriously. As for the Kings, they kept it close for the first half, but they don’t look like they are going to prove too many people wrong. Isiah Thomas had 15 points, and rookie Ben McLemore had 13 off the bench. The Warriors won 94-81.
Topics: Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Minnesota TImberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings