The Celtics opened up the season beating the Cavs 95-89 in Cleveland. The first game, in the great scheme of things, is not very important, but it certainly highlighted weaknesses, strengths and adjustments that need to be made as the season goes on for both teams.
-Cavaliers need a power forward that can stretch the floor to pair with Shaq if they want to continue to play him and James together. The lane was too cluttered for James on many drives with Shaq in there and that does not portend well for the Cavs' success this year. Ilgauskas has an expiring contract and has become inexcusably bad on defense at this point in his career. May be time to trade him for that athletic big, they desperately need.
-Lebron's jumper looks much more natural than it ever has before. Having his shooting coach travel with him all throughout the summer has certainly improved James' stroke. Watching James pull up in the past almost looked unnatural, where yesterday it was smooth and unforced. Remember all James really needs to do is become a good outside shooter, not a great one.
-The Cavs' supporting cast is still working on being on the same page. The Cavs also added Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker and their length and versatility are going to help them once everyone figures out how to play with each other.
-Mo Williams sucks. I absolutely hate this guy and the way he plays. He's not a creator, generally an important criterion for being a point guard and defensively he just got dominated by Rondo all night. When's the last time this guy made a play when it actually mattered?
-The most important addition the Cavs will be waiting for is Delonte West's return. The Cavs were abused by Ray Allen who had his way with Daniel Gibson in the post. Opposing shooting guard will continue to do this until West comes back with his hounding defense. Also with West back, Lebron will have less ball-handling responsibilities.
-Garnett's back and the team certainly is better with him, but he also missed a dunk in the second quarter he never would have missed two years ago. Yes, he's coming back from knee surgery and is still getting his legs underneath him, but you have to wonder whether at the age of 33 and with over 1100 total games played whether he will ever get back to an elite level.
-The good news is they may not need him or the rest of their Big Three to carry the load as much as they did before. Rajon Rondo is a top-5 NBA point guard, who gets into the lane at will and creates a number of scoring chances for his teammates. Rasheed Wallace is not going to shoot as well as he did every night, but he stretches the floor and he also has a refined post-up game. Him and Garnett together defensively inside are going to be incredible.
-Rondo, Rondo, Rondo, Rondo. I can't say enough about this guy. He's one of the most unique talents in the NBA and he has the mentality of an assassin. This guy already is an experienced player and he's only 23. Scary. As a Knicks fan, I can't imagine a better point guard for Mike D'Antoni's system. We probably won't get Lebron, but I would take a summer of Rondo and any combination of Amare Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and Chris Bosh. Hell, I'd probably take Rondo all by himself (after Lebron, this is my biggest mancrush).
-The frontcourt rotation looked good, but they are definitely going to miss Glen Davis (never thought I'd say that) if they get into foul trouble, which is a good chance when Kendrick Perkins is on your team.
-Kendrick Perkins is a beast defensively and he has a decent offensive game with a decent post game and a developing mid-range jump shot. That said, I don't think there is one player I hate watching more than him. Anytime he fouls somebody he scowls and hollers and screams his disagreement. Kendrick, you are not a superstar, you look as good as you do because of the stars around you. Please shutup and act like the role player you are.