Cleveland Cavaliers (1-0) vs. Toronto Raptors (1-0)
7pm ET on ESPN
LeBron James and the Cavaliers opened their title defense in style, with the King putting up a triple-double 19-11-14 in Cleveland’s 117-88 defeat of the Knicks. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love also appeared to be in midseason form, scoring 29 and 23 respectively. The only bump in the road for the Cavs was the one on the head of Iman Shumpert, whose collision with Kristaps Porzingis landed the Cavs big man in the league’s concussion protocol, but it looks as though he’ll be cleared for play tonight. Though the Cavs held the Knicks to just 37% shooting and outrebounded them 51-42, but the Knicks are hardly a measuring stick for success.
The Toronto Raptors also opened their season with a big win, defeating the Pistons 109-91 behind DeMar DeRozan’s 40 points. Toronto jumped took a 10-point lead in the first quarter and never looked back, outscoring the Pistons in each quarter. It’s easy to forget that the Raptors had the second-best record in the East last season, finishing just a game behind the Cavs, and made it to the Conference finals, but somehow never got taken seriously as a title contender. They’ve brought back all the important pieces from last year’s 56-win team, if Jonas Valanciunas keeps putting up 32-11 as he did against the Pistons, that may disrespect may vanish.
Golden State Warriors (0-1) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (0-1)
9:30pm ET on ESPN
Man alive did the Warriors get smoked in their opener, falling 129-100 against the San Antonio Spurs. A year after setting the NBA record with 73 wins, then blowing a 3-2 lead in the Finals against the Cavs, the Warriors signed Kevin Durant in a move that promised to render the 2016-17 season a formality. But a funny thing happened on the way to 82-0, as Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Durant combined to hit on just 5 of 19 from beyond the arc, and Kawhi Leonard dominated things on both ends of the floor with a career-high 35 points and 5 steals. The Warriors will almost surely win at least 60 games this year, but their opener was, in the words of last year’s unanimous MVP Steph Curry, “a nice little slap in the face.”
Anthony Davis made a statement in the Pelicans’ opener, scoring 50 points, grabbing 16 rebounds, dishing 5 dimes, making 7 steals and swatting away 4 shots, reigning terror on a hapless Nuggets team for 41 minutes. Too bad the statement Davis made was “Send Help!”, as his Pelicans lost 107-102. The loss was particularly galling given that the Nuggets made 24 turnovers, and somehow outrebounded the Pelicans 58-34. The Pelicans also got killed by their inability to shoot the 3, making just 3 of 19 on the night. The Pelicans, in addition to having a terrible name, went 30-52 last season, another wasted year in the career of Davis. They used the 6th pick in the draft to take Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, who averaged 25 points a game in his senior year, but managed to score just 4 points on 2-of-8 shooting in his pro debut.