The NBA season’s first month is complete, and what an exciting month it was. From buzzer-beaters to hungry teams ready to prove a point, the first month of the 2017-2018 season was a classic.
Below is a pair of teams from each conference that have been either a bust or a team that has shocked people.
Boston Celtics (15-2, 1st in the East)
The Boston Celtics are one team that was very intriguing coming into the 2017-2018 season, but after losing Gordon Hayward, for the remainder of the season, in Game 1 caused some doubt in the minds of some analysts and experts out there.
To counter the doubt, the Celtics have rallied for 15 straight wins. This streak all coming after starting the season 0-2, with losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks respectively.
So far this season, this team has committed on the defensive side of the floor. Boston is allowing just 94.4 points per game this season, and are doing it with the length that they have up-and-down their stacked lineup.
The defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors were victims of the Celtics vaunted defense this past Thursday night. The ‘Bostonians’ rallied behind a 17-point deficit and defeated the Warriors 92-88 in a game that had a playoff atmosphere to it.
Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum help a lot and are playing better than expected this season. Both are averaging double-figures in points and are a plus defensively with both of them having elite quickness and ability to guard multiple positions.
To add on this Boston team is winning games without having one player have a breakout scoring performance. Through one month of this season, Boston’s Kyrie Irving is the only Celtic to record a 30-point game — which he has done twice.
Irving’s two 30-point outbursts came against the Atlanta Hawks. The first was on November 6, 2017, and the second was on November 18, 2017.
Cleveland Cavaliers (9-7, T4 in the East)
After a massive win on opening night against the Celtics, the Cavaliers fell off the map, losing to teams that were less superior to them and most of those losses were decided by double-digits.
Losses to the Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets, and New York Knicks would concern any Cleveland fan, but the team has rebounded nicely in the past week. The Cavaliers are currently in the midst of a four-game winning streak, with wins over the Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, and Los Angeles Clippers respectively.
The main reason for this recent surge has been the play from Cavaliers superstar LeBron James. Over the last four games, James is averaging 28 points per game, 10 rebounds per game, and nearly eight assists per game.
Chemistry issues were a significant concern with this team early on in the season, but now this team seems to be clicking on all cylinders.
Houston Rockets (13-4, T1 in the West)
If there were one team that could challenge the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference, it would have to be the Rockets.
Houston got a lot better in the offseason and can score with just about any team in the entire league. Houston is second in the NBA this season, averaging 112.6 points per game.
The primary weapon for them is sharpshooters all-around the floor. So far this seaosn, Houston leads the league in three-point makes and attempts.
Houston is an analytical person’s favorite team, as they have modified their entire roster to the modern-day NBA.
What does that mean? The answer is three-pointers are better than mid-range and points in the paint, and the Rockets have adjusted nicely.
To add on, they also have a top-five player in the NBA in James Harden, who can do anything you ask him to do offensively.
Harden’s skill set allows to be the lead guard and serve more of a point guard role, or be the off-guard and rely on his ability to attack the rim and draw fouls and ability to create his own shot and open up his game to his teammates.
Personally, I love the Rockets. I think that Houston has enough — if all of their pieces stay healthy — to concern the Warriors.
Oklahoma City Thunder (7-8, T8 in the West)
The Oklahoma City Thunder were the big winners of the offseason with the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, but so far this season they have struggled.
Cohesion has been the main reason for the concern with this team, but recently there have been signs of improvement. The Thunder have won three out of there last four games, and are dangerous because of the myriad of weapons that they have.
Reigning MVP Russell Westbrook has accepted a different role this season, but still looks the same attacker before when he needs to be. This season is different, though, as the Thunder are not relying on Westbrook to be the main stat-stuffer every night.
Anthony can take the load off of Westbrook’s shoulders in the points category, while George can handle the rebounds and is an overall elite defender. This team is not one to worry about, considering that all three superstars have only been together for the last three months.
After all, chemistry is not an overnight process. Instead, it’s a period that could carry over well into December and January, just look at the Miami Heat during the 2010-2011 season and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2014-2015 season.