5 Preseason Observations


1. The disconnect isn’t necessarily obvious. If you watch preseason, on the surface, there’s not much outside of the number of minutes for starters between regular season and this. I mean, the game is fundamentally the same. But the speed and intensity differential is startling, and you’ll see the shift for small moments with the key players putting themselves in a higher gear. It essentially means that most of the time, even when you see something that is fundamentally good or bad, you have to understand that there’s just very little connection between this and what we’ll see starting October 30th.

2. So in that vein, very little should be made of the Hornets, on either side. A 3-1 record would indicate that they’re actually putting some things together, but if you watch the games or look at the box you can tell that they are severely struggling. But on the flip side, Eric Gordon hasn’t played, and Anthony Davis sat out their Friday night loss for rest.

But the concerns are mostly in that the offense looks like quite the mess. Yes, Gordon is going to help, but there are concerns about Greivis Vasquez who has been charged with running point guard, and the small forward position is still a huge question mark. The results with the big lineup featuring Roben Lopez, Anderson, and Davis have not been good. In large part, the Hornets just don’t seem to have a whole lot of talent offensively.

But again, it’s preseason.

3. Jonas Valanciunas for the Raptors had an awful opening stat line but made a jump in his second game. The off-the-box stuff though, stands out nicely. He’s a quality rotation defender and aggressive at blocking shots. He’s got both good instincts under the basket and a little bit of savvy. He’s going to have growing pains, but you don’t get a sense watching him that he’s just completely lost, like some other top-five-pick big men of the last few years did, even in preseason.

4. The Lakers bench had better be saving itself.

5. Teams who appear sharp: Miami, Denver, San Antonio, Golden State.
Teams who do not appear sharp: Washington, Charlotte, Portland, the Clippers, and OKC’s bench.

But again, as always, it’s preseason.

Ricky Rubio showed up


After years of waiting, Ricky Rubio took the floor for the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday night against the Milwaukee Bucks. The score isn’t important, it’s a preseason game. What is important is that Rubio finished with 6 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and just 1 turnover in 24 minutes. Not bad for the youngster’s first time out.

In a lot of ways, Rubio’s debut was what we expected. Brilliant vision. Stellar playmaking. Terrible shooting. Good perimeter defense. Bowled over physically in the post. And, oh, yeah, this.

Rubio may be the next coming of Maravich without the jumper. He may be the Rookie of the Year. He could have had a good night against a bad team in preseason. He could struggle when defenses get the book on him. But it’s going to be pretty exciting watching to see how this story unfolds. Another reason to celebrate the NBA being back.

NBA Cancels Orlando vs. Miami preseason game in Tampa due to wet floor

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Finally they sell out a sporting event in Tampa Bay… and it’s canceled.

The NBA cancelled the preseason game in Tampa between the Heat and Magic, which was schedule for tonight (and was to be shown on ESPN).

Officially the NBA says it is because of unsafe playing conditions. Officially — the floor is wet. This is the same arena where the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning played last night and they crews came out and put the floor over the ice last night.

However, to get that rarely-used court looking good for national television, the crews had put a polish on the court that left a slick, oily residue. One that would not go away.

It was that way in the morning, so much so that Stan Van Gundy was complaining about it earlier at shoot around. Which became a walk through because he didn’t want his players to run and cut on the floor.

It never got better, it could not be easily removed.

The NBA says the game will be rescheduled. However, when remains a mystery, with Heat starting the preseason next Tuesday it will have to be a year from now. If they can get the court dry by then.

Magic, Heat slip-sliding away on damp court in Tampa before tonight’s game

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NBA courts get a little wet, what with sweaty men running up and down it, running into each other and falling to the ground. There’s a reason people are out there drying off the courts all game.

But when the court is wet even before the game starts? Not good.

That’s what is happening today in Tampa, where the Heat and Magic are scheduled for a preseason tilt. There they put in a temporary court over the ice where the Tampa Bay Lightning play.

Ira Winderman tweeted that the court was slick, but Magic coach Stan Van Gundy took it to another level, only going through a walk-through with players then talking to the Associated Press.

“The court’s not playable in the condition it’s in right now,” Van Gundy said Friday morning, before the scheduled 7:30 p.m. tip-off. “We’re not going to put people out there to get hurt.”

The Lightning played last night and arena crews were working, saying that the situation should be fine by game time. The Arenas has hosted basketball before, including rounds of the NCAA men’s and women’s tournament.

Dunktastic: Jrue Holiday over Anthony Randolph

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Jrue Holiday is quick with the ball. The Knicks Anthony Randolph can be a bit slow on defensive recognition and rotations.

Combine those two and you have a dunk that Randolph will be reminded of for a while, preseason game or not. Oh, and don’t sleep on Holiday people, he can flat out ball. (Man UCLA had a lot of talent there for a while.)