Basketball is back and all is right with the world once again.
It has been an intriguing first week of basketball to say the least. You have the Miami Heat beating the Chicago Bulls and then losing to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Los Angeles Lakers actually beating the L.A. Clippers. Kevin Durant scoring 42. Kevin Love hitting clutch three-pointers. Stephen Curry hitting nine threes. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin hooking up for three alley-oops in less than a minute. Derrick Rose hitting a game-winner.
All of this occurred in the span of three days. This is why basketball reigns supreme; there is always something happening on any given night. In the first few days of the 2013-14 season, we have already been treated to more excitement and unbelievable results than possibly imagined.
It sure didn’t take long for players to get their legs back under them as we already have two 40-point games and a couple other games of players scoring at least 30, not to mention that we have also seen a 26-rebound game, a 15-assist game and a nine-steal game.
Let me remind you one more time: This is all just in the regular season. None of these stats came from the preseason. Think these guys were a little more than fired up to get back on the court?
Because so many players have come out of the gate fired up, it leaves even more questions worth answering since we don’t exactly recognize the true identities of some of these players. Is Michael Carter-Williams going for near quadruple-doubles every night? Is Xavier Henry averaging nearly 20 points the rest of the way? Doubtful.
It’ll take some time before players settle down and consistently play as we expect them to. At the moment, however, it seems that every last player in the NBA has been on edge to get the season started, possibly because we haven’t seen the league this stacked in awhile.
Look out West and you have six legitimate title contenders. Look out East and you have four, as well as the high possibility that there will be some respectable teams claiming residence in the low seeds, which hasn’t been the case recently with teams like the 38-44 Milwaukee Bucks making it last year and getting swept.
Everybody is gunning for that number one spot. Nobody except the boys in Miami want the Heat to win a third consecutive title, which would effectively convince the masses the Heat has created a dynasty.
Before we begin analyzing that deep into the season, we’ll take a look at a few questions that are still in need of answering, and may not be answered until much later in the year.
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How exactly are the Heat going to handle Dwyane Wade this season?
One of the items that was shadowed amid their stunning 114-110 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers was the Miami Heat sitting Dwyane Wade on the second night of a back-to-back. Wade played in the team’s season opening victory against the Chicago Bulls the night before, finishing with 13 points and three assists in 36 minutes.
Is it safe to say he was missed against Philadelphia? Roger Mason, Jr. started in his place in his Heat debut, but managed only three points on 1-of-3 shooting, two turnovers and two assists in 15 minutes. Wade was a 63 percent shooter in four games against Philadelphia last year.
Whether or not the Heat would have won had he played isn’t the story. Instead, it’s what the Heat are going to do with Dwyane Wade throughout the season. Is sitting him on such nights as the second night of a back-to-back going to be a recurring event?
Dwyane’s DNP last night was attributed to “sore knees.” Wade is still recovering from a knee injury he sustained late in last year’s regular season that ailed him throughout the Heat’s championship run. He admitted that he did not step back onto the court until August following the conclusion of the season, resulting in only four preseason games played.
It has been left up in the air as to how the Heat were going to address Wade’s injury, but Wednesday night’s contest might have shown what they have in store. However, there’s still a significant chance the Heat sat Wade on the second night of a back-to-back because why risk an injury in a game Miami should have won.
Plus, Wade is yet to be in the condition that would have him playing upwards of 36 minutes every night. The coaching staff deciding to sit Wade could either be a temporary thing as he recovers from his injuries from last season or it could be a permanent dealing all year where Dwyane is sitting out certain games. The Heat could care less about breaking the record mark of 72 wins set by the Chicago Bulls in 1996, having taken a relaxed approach to certain stretches of the regular season the past three years. It’s not until midseason where the Heat begin to exhibit an effort reminiscent of the postseason.
Miami will need a healthy Dwyane Wade for the postseason. He’s limped into the past two NBA Finals and the Heat were able to pull through thanks to their MVP, timely shooting and a little bit of luck, but that won’t be enough this season if they expect to get through the likes of Chicago, Indiana and Brooklyn. And that’s just the East. The L.A. Clippers, San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder could be waiting out West.
It’s far too early to see how delicately the Heat approach this situation. It won’t be until far later in the season, after Wade recovers from his knee injury, when we see the coaching staff either keep playing him as they have his whole career or they attempt to keep him rested for the games that really matter.