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Saturday, November 2, 2013

The NBA Is Back (Part1)

Courtesy of nba.com
The long wait and enduring anticipation of millions of basketball NBA fans all over the world is finally over. Last night, (Tuesday, Oct. 29 USA) the opening of the 2013-2014 season of the National Basketball Association (NBA)  ushered the games between the 2012 Champion Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls followed by the games between 2 Los Angeles teams, the Lakers and Clippers.  

Before the tip-off, the Miami Heat received their championship rings while the Bulls stirred on the sidelines.

After many scintillating plays from both teams, the Heat nearly threw away their 25-point lead before holding off the Derrick Rose-led charges of the Bulls and finally winning the game with the score of 107-95.

SHANE BATTIER, 1997 Mr. Basketball and an NCAA standout from Duke University Blue Devils, shot  a perfect  4 for 4 from the 3-point range, including a crucial 3-point shot from the right corner with the remaining 1:33 minutes which snuffed out the comeback of the Bulls. Playing under the shadows of his more illustrious team mates James, Wade and Bosh, little is known that Battier is the only American basketball player who won both the Naismith Prep Player of the Year Award in 1997 and the Naismith College Player of the Year award in 2001. The Michigan native also was awarded as a 2-time Academic All American of the Year in 2001.   

Courtesy of miamiherald,com
LeBron James had 17 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds for Miami, Chris Bosh scored 16 points, Battier finished with 14 and Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers each had 13 while Ray Allen and Norris Cole each scored 11, all seven players scoring in double figures for Miami.

On the Chicago Bulls side, Carlos Boozer had 31 points and 7 rebounds for the Chicago Bulls who got within 8 points of the Heat score in the final minutes. Derrick Rose shot 4 for 15 for the Bulls and finished with 12 points in 34 minutes of play in his first game since suffering a career threatening-knee injury in April 2012.

In retrospect, this is not the first time the Bulls have faced the Heat on opening night after a Miami championship in 2006. In that game the Bulls defeated Miami 108-66 behind 26 points from Kirk Hinrich and 20 from Chris Duhon. Significantly, we may still remember James Posey breaking the nose of Tyrus Thomas in the said game. 

In the NBA it is  apparent that the best rivalry going right now is Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls. In a 5-game series loss in the 2011 East Finals against Miami, Derrick Rose struggled from the field because of the LeBron James factor. Chicago also lost in 5 to Miami in last year's conference semifinals without Rose and an ailing Luol Deng. 

Both the Miami and Chicago teams are over the salary cap, so only minor twists were made to each line-up. Chicago lost Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson, the only guy on the team who could create his own shot last season and but added 3-point sharpshooter Mike Dunleavy, formerly of the Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks. Chicago was not a good three-point shooting team a year ago, and Dunleavy will expectedly become an anchor on the second team.

Miami let go of Mike Miller who proved to be a reliable marksman in the playoffs when needed but   added 2 former draft failures, Michael Beasley and Greg Oden mainly to develop depth in its bench. Beasley can score but is a “headcase” while the Heat essentially signed Oden only for the playoffs to go against the Bulls' Joakim Noah and Indiana's Roy Hibbert in the post, who dominated Miami in the East Finals.

Courtesy of sportsillustrated.cnn.com
The big news for this conference is the injury of Joaquim Noah, the Bull’s post player the Heat really don't have a matchup for. Noah has played only 20 minutes this preseason with a groin injury and is very questionable in terms of physical conditioning.  Also doubtful to play prominently is Bull’s backup point guard Kirk Hinrich, who has to contend with a concussion. Without the services of Hinrich, this means that reserved Marquis Teague will have more playing time behind Rose, after barely being used by Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau as a rookie.

I have reasons to believe that the 2013-2014  NBA season will be a full of excitement and enjoyment for the fans. After cornering  his 2nd consecutive NBA Championship, Heat Lebron James will be under immense pressure to lift this conference” Championship for the 3- peat victory to solidify his name with NBA greats such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

The 3- peat chances of the Heat lie mainly on its “1-2-3 punch” in James, Wade and Bosh. Most importantly, with Wade healthy, the mission to have the 3rd championship will be most likely.

For those who may be interested to know, there are exactly 30 teams in the NBA, 15 teams split into two conferences (Western & Eastern) and then divided into 3 groups of 5 teams into divisions :

 Eastern Conference :
 Atlantic Division:
 1. Boston Celtics   2. Philadelphia 76ers  3. New Jersey Nets  4. New York Knicks  5. Toronto Raptors
 Central Division:
 1. Cleveland Cavaliers  2. Detroit Pistons 3. Milwaukee Bucks  4. Chicago Bulls 5. Indiana Pacers
 Southeast Division:
 1. Orlando Magic   2. Atlanta Hawks  3. Miami Heat   4. Charlotte Bobcats  5. Washington Wizards

 Western Conference -
 Northwest Division:
 1. Denver Nuggets   2. Portland Trail Blazers   3. Utah Jazz   4. Minnesota Timberwolves   5. Oklahoma City Thunder
 Pacific Division:
 1. Los Angeles Lakers   2. Phoenix Suns  3. Golden State Warriors  4. Los Angeles Clippers
 5. Sacramento Kings
 Southwest Division:
 1. San Antonio Spurs    2. New Orleans Hornets   3. Houston Rockets   4. Dallas Mavericks
 5. Memphis Grizzlies

Rogelio  G. Balo
Oct. 30, 2013
Central Valley, California  USA

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