Sports: The NBA Is Back With The New-Look Lakers Looking To Challenge Eastern Conference Favorites
by Aydn Morris
The NBA kicked off its regular season Tuesday night headlined by the defending NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks facing the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers facing the Golden State Warriors in a thrilling first night of basketball.
The atmosphere was at an all time high in Milwaukee where the defending champs held their ring ceremony just moments before taking on ESPN’s top ranked team, the Brooklyn Nets.
The Milwaukee Bucks stunned NBA fans by beating the Nets 127-104 in a dominant matchup. From the tip-off, the Bucks maintained control the entire game starting with last year’s finals MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, having a stellar game scoring 32 points, securing 14 rebounds and dishing out seven assists with two blocked shots. Behind him was all-star teammate Kris Middleton who scored 20 points and recorded nine rebounds.
What made this game special to the team is not only the ring ceremony, but also seeing Giannis improve so much in his shooting. Last season Giannis struggled from the free throw line and had the longest free throw routine in the league. He shot a free throw percentage of 69% on 9.5 attempts per game and his routine was regularly at or over the allotted ten seconds.
He may not have shot perfectly from the free throw line in the season opener, but he showed great improvements from last year.
On the other side, the Nets did not have a great game. They have a big hole missing in their lineup without their superstar guard Kyrie Irving, who is unable to play due to his vaccination status. There is a lot of speculation about what will beocome of Kyrie because he will not be able to play in many arenas unless he gets the vaccine.
Although the Nets may have lost without Kyrie, Kevin Durant showed glimpses of a possible MVP season. He scored 32 points, had eleven rebounds and 2 blocks on 13-25 shooting.
Behind Durant was his superstar teammate, James Harden. Harden did not have one of his greatest performances in the season opener. He scored 20 points on 6-16 shooting with eight rebounds, eight assists and two blocks and a steal. Harden dealt with many injuries last season and played few games during the regular season and playoffs.
After the Bucks-Nets game was the Lakers-Warriors. This was a must-see games with the Lakers revamping their whole team in the NBA offseason after their disappointing playoff performance last year.
The Lakers would lose to the Warriors 121-114 with a strong performance from Lebron James scoring 34 points with eleven rebounds, five assists as well as a block and a steal. Lebron shot 13-23 from the field and 5-11 from three, but he had an amazing first half followed by a more lackluster performance down the stretch, especially on the defensive end.
Lebron struggled with injuries last season and because of that the Lakers dropped all the way down to the seventh seed and many people were beginning to say he was washed up after the Lakers lost in the first round to the Suns, where Lebron did not look to be at his healthiest.
By Lebron’s side is superstar big man Anthony Davis. Davis scored a total of 33 points with eleven rebounds and a steal and two blocks. He was arguably the best player on the court last night, but that is expected of him going throughout the rest of the season for the Lakers. Davis shot 15-26 from the field, but had a surprisingly poor performance from the free throw line shooting 2-7.
In addition, the Lakers traded for All-Star Russell Westbrook in the offseason, but Westbrook had a terrible first game performance, where he scored only eight points on a poor 4-13 shooting.
It was known that Westbrook was most likely going to have some struggles to start off the season as he has never been a part of an offense where he isn’t the center piece, but they will need him and the supporting cast for the big three to step it up if they want to win another championship this season.
Although the Warriors won, their perennial all-NBA guard, Steph Curry, struggled from the field with his shot. Curry scored 21 points on 5-21 shooting, but he impacted the game on a different level. Curry recorded his eighth career triple double with ten rebounds and ten assists to go along with 3 steals.
The Warriors will need Curry to have an MVP caliber season again, like he did last year, until fellow “Splash Brother” Klay Thompson comes back from his achilles injury.
NBA games will continue tonight starting at 4:00 PM on ESPN with the Boston Celtics at the New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets in Phoenix taking on the defending Western Conference Champions, the Suns.