By Shaquille Hill, For The African-American Athlete
The third week of the NBA is in the books.
The Warriors seem to be back together after a bit of a shock, the Cavs still aren’t playing any defense, the Celtics are sending a message, and the Pistons are near the top of the East.
Let’s get started.
1. Warriors are back on track
Golden State is now 7-3, after beating the Spurs Friday night and the Nuggets Sunday.
Klay Thompson put up 27 points to lead Golden State to a 112-92 victory over San Antonio Friday night, according to ESPN writer Chris Haynes. The Warriors started slow, giving up 33 first quarter points to the Spurs. Danny Green dunked on Durant, head coach Steve Kerr picked up a technical foul, and Draymond Green and teammate Zaza Pachuila got in an arguement over a defensive rebound.
Eventually, the Warriors got it together, and they outscored the Spurs 88-59. Kevin Durant scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Steph Curry had 21 points and eight boards.
The Warriors beat the Nuggets Sunday. This time, it was Durant who led the way for Golden State, who is now 3-0 on their road trip, winning 127-108. Durant scored 25 points, Curry had 22 and Green and Thompson had 15 points each. They led by five at the half, according to Haynes, then went on a 24-4 tear in the third, eventually leading 25 points. They scored 43 points in the third quarter alone.
“I think everybody came out with great energy in the second half. We found something in the pick and roll and we tried to exploit it,” Durant said, according to the Associated Press. “Guys were moving on the backside without the ball, finding the open area and knocking down shots.”
The Warriors are now third in the West, behind the Rockets and Timberwolves. According to ESPN Stats, they lead the league in offensive points per game (120.7), field-goal percentage (52.6 percent), and three point percentage (41.4 percent). In other words, they’re the Warriors.
2. The Cavs Can’t Defend -or Won’t.
The Cavs are eighth in the NBA in scoring, putting up 108.5 points per game. But they give up 113.4 points per game, good for 28th in the league, according to ESPN. Via Bleacher Report, one scout says the Cavs, haven’t really been trying.
Head coach Ty Lue isn’t about to force them to play defense.
“I’ve been around, it’s my 20th season, and it’s not a rah-rah thing,” Lue said. “These guys are grown men.”
They gave 117 points to the Hawks, Sunday. The Hawks. Not Golden State, not Boston, the lowly Hawks. How much worse can it get? According to NBA.com and Bleacher Report, the Cavs are dead last in defensive ratings at 111.7. No one is trying at that end. No one. The Cavs may be struggling due to chemistry issues, sure, but you also have to put in the effort.
“We’ve got a lot of shooters, we’ve got a lot of scorers, but ain’t nobody going to guard teams that score 33, 32, 37 points every quarter,” Channing Frye said,according to Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz. “So, we’re going to have to play some defense until we figure it out.”
LeBron can’t put up 40-60 points every night, like he did against the Wizards on Friday, scoring 57 on one of the East’s best. They’re 3-0 against Playoff teams, but 1-6 against the bottom of the league.
The Cavs have to figure out the defense -fast.
3. Pistons Starting Fast
The Detroit Pistons have typically struggled the past few years. But the beginning of this season seems different. The Pistons are 7-3, good for second in the East behind the Celtics. They beat the Warriors 115-107 October 30th, and beat the Kings 108-99 Saturday. They have won four of the last five games, only losing to the Lakers. Center Andre Drummond is shooting 75 percent from the free throw line, where he has been a problem normally in his career. Drummond is averaging 14.0 points on 54.5 percent shooting, and 14.7 rebounds per game, according to ESPN.
New addition Avery Bradley is averaging 16.3 points so far this season, but he averages about 23 points in the Pistons’ recent wins against the Warriors and Kings. He shot a combined 26-40 in those three wins.
The Pistons are rolling – they play the Pacers Wednesday and Hawks Friday, so they should stay at the top of the East. They also face the Cavs, Bucks, Celtics and Timberwolves this month, so we’ll see how good the Pistons truly are.
4. Celtics Still Rolling
Kyrie Iriving and the Celtics are now 8-2 in their first ten games, taking control of the East. Irving is leading the way with 21.5 points per game along with 5.6 assists, according to ESPN. They beat the Magic, 104-88 Sunday night for their eighth straight win. While Irving is the main guy, he certainly isn’t the only one. Jaylen Brown scored 18 points to lead Boston, while Al Horford scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
While they haven’t beaten the best competition – at least yet – they’ve ripped off eight straight wins. The two losses were to the Bucks – who they beat 96-89 in a Oct 27th, and a three point loss to the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
Even without Gordon Hayward, the Celtics are sending a message to the NBA: We’re not just here to make LBJ look good, we want to make a statement. So far they have. And maybe they take the East with them.