I'm a Celtics fan, always will be. But I get the feeling these days that the NBA is going through a changing of the guard, and that the days of Celtics/Lakers/Spurs/Mavs-type teams are nearing an end. There's some incredible talent strewn around the league these days, and it wouldn't be shocking to see one of the young ones rise to the top. Three that have impressed early in this (very) young season:
- Clippers: What a bunch they've got there. CP3, Griffin, Crawford, Odom (he WAS a great player not so long ago, anyway), even Butler and Jordan. This team is looking like it's gonna be hard to beat this season.
- Rockets: Built from the scraps of other teams, suddenly you look around and you see a potentially excellent team. Harden is absolutely exploding, and Lin looks like he can give them exactly what they need. Add in Asik and you've got a very powerful core.
- Knicks: We're only one game in, but what a game it was. I thought they were crazy to let Lin go, but maybe this time their FO got it right. Instead of Lin, they now have two PGs and thus are never rudderless on offense. Their defense has been sturdy going back to last year (and still was in the Heat beatdown) thanks to Chandler, so who knows how far they can go? 'Sides, they've got Sheed. How can they lose? (Excuse me while I throw up.)
No doubt, there will be a few more teams rising unexpectedly to the top this year. It's going to be fun to watch. I also get the early sense that the officiating is improving (I know, I know... just remember how much worse it was in the past!) so that 2012-13 might just be one of the most entertaining seasons in a long, long time.
I just hope that the Cs will be in the fray. That would make it perfect. I fully expected them to be but now I'm worried about the one thing that can't be fixed with time, diligence and/or practice: KG's age. If his below-par performance so far is part of his natural aging process, well... then I don't see a viable path the Finals. He is indispensable to an effective Celtics defense, and thus indispensable, period. All the other problems we've seen in the Cs' first two games are fixable.... so in a way, it's all on KG right now. Can he get back to his 2012 playoffs form? Or is he going to remain a step slow? No way to know, until we know.
Btw... the Knicks just showed us how to beat the Heat (which they did rather handily, by 20, no less.) Pass sharply and well, and hit your 3s. Of course, it goes without saying that you gotta also play well on defense. Having a Tyson Chandler in the middle goes a long, long way. KG... you're the man. Our D is in your hands.