Season's first 72 hours offer hint of trends ahead
Posted: Friday November 4, 2005 11:54AM; Updated: Friday November 4, 2005 5:24PM
Pau Gasol played like the mountain man he appears on opening night, scoring 26 points and grabbing 12 rebounds vs. the Heat.
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
Marty Burns will periodically answer questions from SI.com users in his mailbag.
The NBA season is three days old, and already it's over.
At least, that is, if you believe most of the experts. To hear them tell it, this 2005-06 NBA season is already in the books. The Spurs have won the title. So what if they've only played one game. Just give 'em the rings already.
Gee, I guess we don't have to watch the games for the next eight months.
And to think I spent a half hour on my patio Tuesday night trying to adjust my satellite dish.
Not that spending seven hours a night (why does the late game always seem to go to OT?) for three straight nights proved a total loss. We did get to see Brent Barry plant a wet kiss on David Stern's cheek, Smush Parker dunk in Andre Miller's face and several new fashion looks, including Pau Gasol with a Unabomber beard, Chris Andersen with a nasty purple shiner to go with his yellow headband and injured Cavs forward Anderson Varejao without his trademark Sideshow Bob hairstyle.
As for more the actual product on the court, it's a little early to draw conclusions. But here's one take on what we witnessed over the season's first 72 hours:
The Spurs look unbeatable, but ...
San Antonio looked every bit as good as advertised in Tuesday night's opener against the Nuggets. The sight of Michael Finley in that white-and-black Spurs uniform burying jumpers in the fourth quarter had to cause a serious outbreak of heartburn for GMs around the league. San Antonio is the most complete team in the league and deserves to be the heavy favorite.
But let's not get carried away. A lot can happen between now and next June. Besides, it's not as if the Spurs just steamrolled the competition last year. The Sonics (minus injured all-star forward Rashard Lewis) took them to six games in the conference semis. In the Finals, the Pistons came 12 minutes away from winning the title. It's as if nobody remembers that the Spurs and Pistons were tied 57-57 after three quarters in Game 7. It doesn't get much closer than that.
The Heat are going to need time
Pat Riley's great chemistry experiment in Miami has so far shown mixed results. The Heat won by 19 on the road at Memphis on Wednesday, then fell 14 points behind the Pacers at home on Thursday before rallying to lose a close one. If Dwyane Wade's last-second 3-pointer goes down, instead of rattling out, Miami could be 2-0 and everybody would be putting them in the Finals, too.
Miami coach Stan Van Gundy is going to need some time to work out his rotations, which will become more complicated after Shaquille O'Neal turned his ankle against the Pacers. Antoine Walker looked great against the Grizzlies on Wednesday night, but not so great against the more athletic Pacers. Gary Payton, Jason Williams, Alonzo Mourning and Jason Kapono each also had his moments during the two games. Van Gundy definitely has some weapons, but Miami fans are going to have to be patient.