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1) Ugly start to Jason Kidd coaching era in Dallas, Hawks rout Mavericks
Trae Young remains the superstar face of the franchise and the guy rightfully about to get All-Star/All-NBA level love due to the Hawks’ success. However, throughout the preseason, we kept saying De'Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish would be the real keys to Atlanta taking a step forward off its deep playoff run.
It’s just one game, but Hawks fans have got to be riding high after Hunter and Reddish sparked an opening night blowout of the Luka Doncic and the Mavericks, 113-87. Hunter’s defense on Doncic kept the MVP candidate in check, while Reddish led the team with 20 points off the bench.
All that meant it was one ugly start to the Jason Kidd coaching era in Dallas. How ugly? A picture is worth a thousand words; here is the Mavs shot chart from the night through the competitive part of the game (Dallas made some straight-on threes late to help this look marginally better).
Atlanta played sharp defense, with Hunter doing an excellent job on Doncic — he had 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting, plus 11 rebounds and seven assists — but more than that, the Hawks rotations were sharp, chasing players off the arc, and Clint Capela was in the paint cleaning things up.
Dallas had no good adjustment through the competitive parts of the game. The offense was stagnant and keeping two bigs on the floor for much of the time led to ugly spacing issues, resulting in a lot more midrange shots than they took last season, and those were not falling. Nobody else stepped up, either: Kristaps Porzingis shot 4-of-13, while Dorian Finney-Smith was 2-of-12 (and his shot selection was odd: post ups?).
The bigger issue for Dallas is when its shots didn’t fall early, it got in the team’s head and impacted the team’s defensive effort as well. That’s when things got ugly.
All the missed shots had Atlanta running — 26.6% of their possessions were in transition (according to Cleaning the Glass), and in the halfcourt the Hawks were moving the ball beautifully. The scoring was balanced, Young had 19 and Reddish 20, plus John Collins added 16, Clint Capela had a dozen, and six Hawks players were in double figures.
It’s just one game, and we’re not drawing any sweeping conclusions about either team. Still, Atlanta looked like a team brimming with confidence and continuity, looking to build off its run to the Eastern Conference Finals. Dallas… has some serious work to do.
2) Stephen Curry put on a show dropping 45 on Clippers
We are not discussing the MVP race the first week of the season. But let’s just say Stephen Curry is playing like one and tearing apart teams from Los Angeles.
A few nights after a “trash” (his word) triple-double against the Lakers, Curry came out on fire scoring 25 points on 9-of-9 shooting in the first quarter against the Clippers Thursday.
Curry continued his hot streak all game long on his way to 45 points, including the late 3-pointer that put the Warriors up for good against a feisty Clippers team.
@StephenCurry30 You’re SICK Man!!!!! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 22, 2021
Curry wasn’t the only stud. Paul George had 29 to lead the Clippers and was 5-of-11 from 3. But the Warriors are off to a fast 2-0 start this season, beating both Los Angeles teams, and Curry is playing like an… well, we said we weren’t going to discuss it yet.
3) NBA names full 75th anniversary team — and there were snubs
The final names dropped, and it turns out the NBA’s 75th anniversary team has 76 players on it because of a tie among voters. Here is the complete list.
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) October 21, 2021
It’s a good list, although there seemed to be some recency bias.
And there were snubs — a handful of Hall of Fame players have very legitimate cases to be on that list, but here are three I thought were clear snubs.
• Dikembe Mutombo. The finger wag had to be on this list — he has the resume: four-time Defensive Player of the Year, eight-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA, and he led the league in blocks three times. He earned it on the court, and as Ernie Johnson on TNT noted, he earned it off the court as well — Mutombo’s efforts to build hospitals in his native Congo and to raise awareness of issues there are what the NBA hopes to see in terms of community activism from their stars. This was a glaring oversight.
• Dwight Howard. Too many fans — and, apparently, voters — get hung up on what Howard has become near the end of his career (almost playing himself out of the league, not living up to his potential, being a role player) and ignore the Howard who was a dominant big man for a decade at the start of his career. Howard’s resume includes an NBA title, 3-time Defensive Player of the Year, he’s an eight-time All-NBA player and 8-time All-Star and five-time rebounding champion. He has 13,000 rebounds and 2,000 blocks in his career, and everyone else with those stats made the team, except Howard.
• Artis Gilmore. Another big man who should have made the list, he was dominant in the ABA and NBA. Gilmore was the 1972 MVP, an ABA champion who was an 11-time All-Star, and made the All-Defensive Team five times. He had one of the smoothest games from a big the league has ever seen, a precursor to today’s bigs with his athleticism and style.
If you know, you know!
In my Top 75 all day every day pic.twitter.com/4T2NeVDJlz
— George Karl (@CoachKarl22) October 21, 2021
Highlight of the night:
Tyler Herro dropped 27 in Miami’s blowout of the Bucks, and when shots like this are falling, you know it’s your night.
Last night’s scores: