Tracy McGrady has storybook debut… almost


mcgrady_Knick.jpgTracy McGrady looked like hadn’t lost a step despite only playing in nine games prior to tonight… well, almost.

Donnie Walsh looked like he might be sheer genius in the debut of the revamped Knicks lineup… well, almost.

And the New York Knicks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder…well, almost.

There will be plenty of time to talk about Kevin Durant’s streak of 25+ games (27 and counting), the Thunder’s incredible poise, and the significance of Sam Presti’s decision not to interfere with the chemistry of the young squad.

But we’d be remiss if we didn’t chronicle the work of McGrady tonight. The return of TMac.

The boxscore itself is not enough to appreciate what McGrady did tonight. Though the Knicks’ pace is down significantly this year from previous runs and guns, there’s still an inherent swell to the statsheet when you operate under Mike D’Antoni’s guises. So 26 points in 32 minutes, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and a steal is impressive, but not unbelievable. It’s very possible to put that line in a quiet way under 7 Seconds or Less.

It was not a quiet line.

McGrady wasn’t the same McGrady we’ve seen the last few years. He was the McGrady we were promised by the former prodigy, attacking the basket, draining threes, making steals, handling the ball in key situations, and generally playing like a king. Or a Knickerbocker of old.

McGrady has settled for inside-the-arc jumpshots, the death of effiiciency for years, as his body wore down. But tonight he attacked the basket, drawing contact, following misses, and being hyper aggressive, rather than passively shooting whatever the defense granted him. There were a fair amount of “inefficient” shots, to be sure, the 16-23 foot jumpers that were part of what frustrated the efficiency-obsessed Rockets. But McGrady countered it with aggressiveness and creating opportunities for his teammates.

McGrady definitely seemed to tire as the game went on, his first in months, and he sat the entire overtime period when he was needed. But tonight serves as notice that even though he may not be 100%, the old Tracy McGrady, the one that drove fear into the hearts of men, still exists, and we may be seeing more of him for the rest of the season.

Chris Paul, after breaking finger, intends to play in Clippers preseason game tomorrow

Chris Paul
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Chris Paul broke his finger Saturday.

The initial diagnosis said the injury wasn’t serious.

Here’s confirmation.

Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:

Paul obviously wouldn’t push it during the preseason. If the Clippers are allowing him to play, this can’t be bad.

Really, the most challenging aspect to this is grasping the concept that a broke finger can be a minor injury.

Report: David Lee, Tyler Zeller in line to start for Celtics; Jared Sullinger, Jonas Jerebko out of rotation

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 08: David Lee of Boston Celtics attacks during the friendlies of the NBA Global Games 2015 basketball match between Real Madrid and Boston Celtics at Barclaycard Center on October 8, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Brad Stevens has a big challenge this year – sorting the Celtics’ deep roster of similarly able players.

It seems that process is shaking out at power forward and center.

A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

it appears Boston’s first four bigs will be starters David Lee and Tyler Zeller, with Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk off the bench.

That leaves Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger, potentially on the outside looking in as far as the regular rotation is concerned.

Lee is the best passer of the bunch, which could partially explain why he’s starting. Boston’s most likely starting point guard, Marcus Smart, is still growing into the role of the lead ball-handler at the NBA level. Lee and presumptive starting shooting guard Avery Bradley can take some pressure off him.

Olynyk can space the floor for Isaiah Thomas-Johnson pick-and-rolls with the reserves and run pick-and-pops with Thomas himself.

I’m a little surprised Zeller is starting over Johnson, though. The Celtics just signed Johnson to a $12 million salary, and I thought they’d rely on his defense to set a tone early. Like Johnson, Zeller is a quality pick-and-roll finisher who can thrive with Thomas.

This is particularly bad news for Sullinger, who – barring a surprising contract extension – is entering a contract year. It seems those reports of offseason conditioning haven’t yet paid off. Jerebko’s deal also isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, but at least he has already gotten his mid-sized payday. Sullinger is still on his rookie-scale contract.