This defense is pretty damn good
Its no secret, this team has been in an offensive rut to start the year. They’ve already had multiple games this year where they didn’t crack 100 points. Something unheard of from last years squad.
While a 3-4 record is nothing to go crazy over, I think it’s a cause for at least some optimism. Imagine if last years team had a seven game offensive stretch this rough…What do you think their record would be? Maybe they’d have one win? Possibly two? Its a sign of real growth that they have been winning games with their defense. Especially while the offense catches up.
This starting lineup should be the short term solution
Rick Carlisle shocked most avid followers of the team when tonight’s starting lineup featured not one, but two changes. Instead of the traditional five, we saw both Willie Cauley-Stein and Maxi Kleber Plugged into the first unit with Hardaway & Powell sliding to the bench.
And while Powell still had a quiet night, it did wonders for Hardaway, Cauley-Stein, and the whole crew.
Admittedly, I was skeptical of these particular switches. Hardaway generally struggles when not sharing the floor with Luka and I thought he would use that as license to take some ill-advised shots. But Rick did a great job with the substitution pattern to help minimize his time apart from 77.
As for Willie and Maxi, they’re just better overall players than Dwight right now. On both ends. That’s not a slight to DP, he’s coming off an achilies, but this team needs to start stacking some wins. Him in a more limited bench role helps that cause.
Will these changes help the team find actual consistency without KP? That remains to be seen. But it’s worth trying this again for the time being.
Whether he wins it or not, Luka is still an MVP
There was a lot of focus on Luka coming into the year and rightfully so. Coming off a historic sophomore season, people were expecting something even greater.
What they got wasn’t quite that. He looked a bit heavy, a little sluggish. Even as he’s gotten better through the first couple games, he still does at times.
Predictably, there was a lot of focus on that. It was fair, but it did move beyond reason at a certain point. It was obsessive and an overcompensation because of a sputtering offense, but such is the life of an MVP-caliber player.
These last couple games, but especially this one, reaffirmed everything we already knew about Luka: He is that (expletive) dude. No bones about it.
33 points, 15 rebounds, 11 assists, and several clutch buckets against a defensively talented Rockets team was enough.
You can settle down everyone. The kid is going to be okay.
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