Can you believe it? We’re already back for a new NBA season! And if you can believe that, you really won’t believe that we didn’t get canceled! That’s right, Ball Don’t Lie is back for season number two, and as always, we’ve got everything you need right here for the week ahead in the NBA. We’re a few weeks into the season, and it has been exactly as exciting as you were expecting, so let’s catch you up on what’s going on.
Ball Don’t Lie
The Rockets were a heavily criticized roster by a certain portion of NBA writers around the league before the season (including yours truly), but James Harden has silenced everyone on his own. Just last night, Harden scored 56 points on just 25 shots, and accounted 86 points for his team. If you think him having Chris Paul would limit his production for the team, you’d be wildly wrong: this Rockets offense is deep and producing, and Harden is to thank for that.
50 points and 12 assists from James Harden in under 3 quarters. This is one of the most unreal individual games I have ever seen. #Rockets
— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) November 6, 2017
Knicks Have a Pulse
The Knicks are the running joke of the NBA, and have been for a while now. But it’s time to give them credit where it’s due: there are finally some signs of life for the franchise. Porzingis has been absolutely great, running wild with no one else on the roster around to steal his touches. But Frank Ntilikina has also been great. The tandem is really exciting to watch, and with expectations gone with Melo down the road, the Knicks look like they have a vision for the future.
The Knicks were down 19 with 1:43 left in the 3rd, then Kristaps took over. pic.twitter.com/pG6aqE0cMD
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 6, 2017
Wolves Have Arrived
There’s been tempered optimism about this roster since KAT showed he was a real player in the NBA. With such a young building core, the Wolves were teetering toward upward mobility. Now though, with Butler and Teague, the Wolves are looking to fast forward straight toward contention. And it’s working: the Wolves are 7-3, with their first five game winning streak in a DECADE this week. These guys are good.
Timberwolves are 7-3 and look at this: it’s the first time they’ve been four games over .500 since 2007.
— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) November 6, 2017
Simmons Shows Up
Ben Simmons has just about every kind of expectation placed on him after all the hype he got coming out of school. And that was a year ago. Now, Simmons enters his actual rookie year in the NBA, and he looks every bit of the part. Simmons is outpacing even LeBron’s rookie numbers, and he’s turned the Sixers into serious contenders. He’s handling the point and guarding the best players, and that’s without a jump shot. This kid is the real deal so far.
Rookie Magic Johnson: 22.9 PTS, 9.8 REB, 9.3 AST, 3.1 STL per 100 possessions
Ben Simmons: 24 PTS, 13 REB, 11 AST, 2.1 STL per 100 poss
— Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) November 4, 2017
Kyrie Leads the Young Guys
Somewhere, Kyrie Irving is laughing his butt off. After leaving the Cavs under calls from Cavs fans that he can’t win without LeBron, Irving saw his superstar partner Gordon Hayward go down and responded anyways. He’s guided the young Celtics, with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, to a league-best 8-2 record and an 8 game winning streak. The Celtics have supplanted themselves atop the East, and it looks permanent.
Kyrie hearing how shaky the Cavs have been https://t.co/xqbc8gwX9p
— Bostons Diehards (@BDiehards) November 6, 2017
Okay, bear with me because a lot is going on here. The Cavs have been about as bad as you could possibly imagine a team that features LeBron James can be thus far. Their defense is god-awful, and that’s not an exaggeration: they rank dead last in the NBA. They’ve dropped five in a row now, including allowing the NBA’s worst Hawks to beat them. Their starters Jay Crowder and JR Smith posted a combined -68 in that game, and that’s even after James threw up a near triple double. Channing Frye said it best when he said, “We suck.” The Cavs are in trouble.
How LeBron really feels about the Cavs 😂 pic.twitter.com/nnMfR1ekDq
— Whistle Sports (@WhistleSports) November 6, 2017
Thunder Can’t Close
Let me just say that the Thunder have become my favorite League Pass team. Watching Westbrook and Melo run a pick-and-roll may be the highlight of my week. But the Thunder have a serious problem, and one that has them sitting at .500: they can’t close games. Seriously, they’ve already dropped three games by less than five, and have been in every game they’ve played but one. It’s a mess of some weird isolation plays for each of the three stars and hero ball. This was the concern with OKC to start the year, and they need to iron this out.
Thunder crunch time offense is 🚮🚮🚮🚮🚮🚮🚮🚮🚮🚮🚮🚮🚮🚮🚮🚮🚮
— CBoogy Wit Da Sweats (@BladesOfGlory10) October 28, 2017
Wizards Lose Magic Touch
John Wall was exciting, Brad Beal was streaking, and the Wizards were rolling to start the year. And then, like magic, they ran into Lonzo Ball and everything fell apart. Just kidding about the Lonzo thing, but the Wizards have been bad this past week, tumbling back down to .500 after a blazing start. They’ve got the same problem as always: the bench is bad, and Bradley Beal just can’t find that consistency that we need going forward.
Wizards bench will be fine once:
Mahinmi is traded
Brooks staggers starters
Porter leads the 2nd unit
Mahinmi is traded
— Arthur A. (@DistrictMamba) November 7, 2017
Kings Can’t Find Hoop
I was so excited early to watch the Kings, with so many random young players that I thought were really intriguing. But now I realize where this could get a little ugly: the Kings don’t really have an alpha, and instead have an over-the-hill Zach Randolph and George Hill taking the majority of their shots, with Hield and Fox taking some rough jumpers. There’s still tons of talent, but the offense really isn’t fun to watch yet.
Ballers Of the Week
James Harden, as mentioned before, is quite good at basketball. The Rocket’s star has loaded up into the front running for the MVP again, with his incredible play on offense. He scored 56 points this week on 19-25 shooting. Yes, that’s not a typo. He’s carrying his team thus far, and it’s been incredible.
James Harden with 56 points on 22 shots right now.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) November 6, 2017
Out of nowhere, Kristaps Porzingis is showing up in bunches for the New York Knicks, with the entire offense flowing through him. He’s spearheaded the Knicks to a .500 start, and is second in the NBA in scoring at 29 PPG. He’s shooting 48% from the field and still grabbing 8 boards and almost 2 blocks a game. Welcome to the show, Unicorn.
Good morning to all the beautiful residents of New Kristaps (formerly New York)
— Desus Nice (@desusnice) November 6, 2017
I know we don’t like to talk about this much anymore, but quietly Steph Curry has returned to MVP form. He’s been lights out this year, shooting 41% from three and 62% from two. He didn’t even miss his first free throw until this week. The Warriors have underperformed, but Curry definitely hasn’t.
Steph Curry was a +44 tonight, LeBron James was never a +44 in any regular season game ever.
— +44 (7-3) (@bigguccicurry) November 5, 2017
Lillard hits the Winner
Damian Lillard in the 113-110 win over the Lakers:
GAME WINNER 🔥⌚️
— NBA Jumpshot (@NBAJumpshot) November 3, 2017
Frank Does Too
Frank Ntilikina Go Ahead 3 vs Pacers. BANG! pic.twitter.com/UzW50QPf6e
— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) November 6, 2017
Hinkie Throws Shade
I love it when a plan comes together.https://t.co/JVEq8ScDGC
— Sam Hinkie (@samhinkie) November 2, 2017
Simmons Throws It Down
Ben Simmons with 19 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists and 1 amazing dunk. pic.twitter.com/f6VrmOLpy1
— Drew Corrigan (@Dcorrigan50) November 2, 2017
— Davide Chinellato (@dchinellato) November 4, 2017
Porzingis Does Both
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) November 4, 2017
Games of the Week
Wolves @ Warriors – Thursday (AEDT)
The Timberwolves are red hot, and now will role into Golden State with an over-powering offense. They’ll lackluster D will get a test though, with the plodding Golden State getting a playoff preview.
Cavs @ Rockets – Friday (AEDT)
The Cavs are S-T-R-U-G-G-L-I-N-G, and what better way to fix that than James Harden and CP3 at home. The Cavs get up for the big ones, but many more losses in a row, and Ty Lue may be looking for new employment.
Sixers @ Warriors – Saturday (AEDT)
Ben Simmons has Sixers fans dreaming big. Now, they’ll head to Oracle to get the defending champs, and point Simmons gets a chance to make a sizeable statement to a big audience.