The setup was perfect and there were storylines galore. But somehow, that excitement quickly turned to madness, as Week One of the 2020-2021 NBA season was insane.
It’s as if the league decided to do shots after taking an edible.
According to Tuesday night’s TNT broadcast, since 1974 there have been 33 games with 50-point scoring margins. There were two last season, as the Celtics beat the Bulls by 56 and the Mavericks beat the Jazz by 50. The league almost eclipsed last year’s total in its first week.
On Sunday, the Mavericks beat the Clippers by 51 and were up by as many as 57 in the second half. Dallas set an NBA record for the largest halftime lead as they were up by 50 at the break. And on Tuesday night, the Bucks beat the Heat by 47, setting as they set a league record by hitting 29 -pointers (29-for-51), just two days after a horrible night from three in which they only converted 7-of-38 from deep. According to ESPN, Milwaukee was the first team to attempt 50 3s and shoot at least 50 percent.
“Some nights, the basketball gods are with you a little bit,” said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer after the game. “It’s probably one of those nights.”
On Tuesday night alone, three games were won by more than 23 points.
We should have suspected that this season was going to be a wild one when the Nets had a 38-point lead during the season’s first game over the Warriors, - they went on to win by 26. We’re only a week in, and everybody has forgotten that the Rockets and Thunder opener was postponed due to COVID-19 because James Harden has reminded people how great of a basketball player he is by averaging 39 points and 12.5 assists per game.
Christmas Day featured a sexy five-game slate in theory until the day came and the average winning margin was 23.2, as the Bucks beat the Warriors by 39 and the Nets blew out the Celtics by 28. The lowest margin for the day was 13.
But wait, there’s more.
In the East, the Magic (4-0) and the Hawks (3-0) are leading the conference with undefeated records, while the Raptors and Wizards are both winless at the bottom. Washington is off to an 0-4 start even with the combination of Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal. Westbrook has notched a triple-double in every game he’s played this season.
In the West, the Suns and the Kings are in a three-way tie for first with the Clippers, all having 3-1 records. The Nuggets, who lost in the Western Conference Finals last season, are second to the last in the standings with a 1-3 record.
It’s early, but this is crazy.
For example, at 6-foot-3 Westbrook is currently third in the league averaging 13.7 rebounds per game, while 7-foot Nikola Jokic is leading the NBA averaging 13.5 assists from the center position.
Unfortunately, there have also been some serious injuries during the first week. Spencer Dinwiddie (Brooklyn) and Marquese Chriss (Golden State) were lost for the season due to an ACL tear and a broken leg, respectively. Ja Morant will miss time in Memphis due to anankle injury, Kevin Love has a calf injury that will keep him sidelined for a few weeks in Cleveland, and Karl-Anthony Towns will miss a handful of games with a bum wrist.
It’s been a helluva first week. Buckle up, things are just getting started.