Heat at Cavaliers (8pm ET Friday, ESPN)
The Miami Heat (1-0) saw their win total drop from 54 to 37 in Year One of the post-LeBron era. In an effort to help fill the hole left by James, GM Pat Riley brought in ex-Knick fixer-upper Amar’e Stoudemire, fresh off his scene-stealing turn in Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck.
As good as Stoudemire was in the movie, the Heat are still hanging their hats on three guys – Stoudemire, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade – who as a unit have missed 74 games a year over the past four seasons and are going to reach a collective age of 98 this season. Stoudemire has gotten off to an inauspicious start, having started the season on the inactive list with a cranky knee, causing him to miss the Heat’s season-opening 104-94 victory over the Hornets.
The Heat were second-to-last in the league in possessions per game last year, but may be ready to speed things up, despite all the miles on their collective wheels. After point guard Goran Dragic came over from Phoenix in a trade last February, the Heat’s possessions per game jumped from 89.0 to 92.3. Perhaps a full season of Dragic manning the point will force the Heat to find second gear.
The Heat visit their erstwhile leader,Lebron James' Cleveland Cavaliers (1-1), who are coming off a 106-76 trouncing of the Memphis Grizzlies in which Kevin Love showed that all that off-season work rehabbing his shoulder has paid off. Love led the Cavs with 17 points and 13 rebounds to help lift the Cavs on a night when LeBron James was 4-of-13 from the field, and just 4-of-8 from the line. More importantly, a Grizzlies fan won tater tots for life.
Warriors at Rockets (10:30pm ET Friday, ESPN)
Steph Curry began the defense of both his MVP award and the Golden State Warriors’ (1-0) title with authority, dropping 40 in Tuesday’s 111-95 win over the Pelicans. It’s only one game, but it appears that coach Steve Kerr’s indefinite absence from the sidelines won’t be much of a problem.
Having dispatched the Pelicans, their first-round foe from last season’s playoffs, the Warriors now meet their Western Conference finals opponents, the Houston Rockets (0-1), led by James Harden, who finished second behind Curry in last season’s MVP balloting.
Harden was a beast last year, leading the league in minutes, free throws, free throw attempts, points and Win Shares (and turnovers – ssshhh…), but you have to question the judgment of the man dating Khloe Kardashian, who has called off her divorce from Lamar Odom, following his near-death in a Vegas brothel. Don’t you feel just a little more stupid for having read that sentence?
Khloe was in the house for the Rockets’ home opener, a dispiriting 105-85 loss to the Denver Nuggets, as Harden shot 2-of-12 from 3-point land. Here’s to a speedy recovery for both Harden’s shot and Odom’s health.