Fourteen games were played in the NBA on Wednesday. Dozens of players returned from or left with injuries, debuts were rife between rookies, traded players and free agent signees, and scores of players had surprising performances. There are too many things to talk about and too little time or space to talk about them, so let’s begin with the Heat vs. Sixers game. Note: My future Daily Dose columns will not be this long, for your sake and my own.
Miami at Philadelphia
Fantasy owners got a rude shock when Dwyane Wade was ruled out hours before tipoff due to "general soreness." The Heat billed it as a simple move to get D-Wade some rest on the second game of a back-to-back set, but it was made less routine by the fact that we're two days into the 2013-14 season. We knew Wade wasn't in peak condition during the preseason, as he hand-picked which games he'd sit out, and owners should be on red alert for more DNPs in upcoming back-to-back sets. To save you some research, the next such sets are Nov. 15/16, Nov. 19/20, and Dec. 27/28.
Miami was tired and disjointed to begin the game after playing Chicago on Tuesday (they didn't even attempt a FT until there were 1.2 seconds remaining in the first half), and despite rallying in the second half they eventually fell to a lively Sixers team which played with as much energy as we've seen from them in years. With Wade out of the lineup, LeBron James notched 25 points (four 3s) and 13 assists, while Chris Bosh had 22 points and 10 rebounds, (he had only 15 double-digit rebounding games in the regular season last year). Fill-in starter Roger Mason Jr. contributed three points in 15 minutes. Off the bench, Ray Allen drained four 3-pointers to finish with 16 points, Norris Cole added 10 points, and Rashard Lewis (who had a DNP-CD on Tuesday) scored nine points in 16 minutes. Udonis Haslem started at PF but fell out of the rotation quickly and had only two points in 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, the 76ers took a confident step toward the draft lottery with the 114-110 home victory. They jumped out to a 23-2 lead on perfect 10-of-10 FGs to begin the game, with rookie PG Michael Carter-Williams draining his first two shots (including a 3-pointer) with four assists and four steals before he took a seat after just nine minutes in the first quarter.
MCW's dazzling performance didn't end there and he finished with a line of 22 points (6-of-10 FGs, 6-of-8 FTs), four 3-pointers, seven rebounds, 12 assists, nine steals and just one turnover. I've harped on the threat that low FG percentages and TOs pose to his fantasy value, and I doubt he'll be anywhere near this efficient most nights, but the ostentatious steals and assist-to-turnover ratio are more than enough reason to be crowing if you drafted him. As a historical footnote worth remembering, MCW's nine steals set a new NBA rookie-debut record.
James Anderson started at SG to finish with eight points, six rebounds and two steals in 35 minutes. Evan Turner looked confident and aggressive on his way to a team-high 26 points on 10-of-19 FGs and 6-of-6 FTs (noteworthy given his career marks of 42.8 percent FGs and 74.4 percent FTs). Tony Wroten also shredded expectations in 23 bench minutes -- billed as a lousy shooter, he scored 14 points on 6-of-9 FGs with one 3-pointer, four rebounds, two assists and one steal in 23 minutes.
Spencer Hawes has his way most of the night vs. the Miami frontcourt, and as expected he was a focal point of the Sixers' offense. He has a solid fantasy outlook as long as he can stay healthy, thanks to adequate 3-point range to spread the court, above-average passing ability, a solid mid-range jumper, and zero competition for minutes.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a $6,000 Fantasy Basketball league that includes Thursday and Friday's NBA games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $1,200. Starts Thursday night at 8pm ET. Here's the link.
Brooklyn at Cleveland
Deron Williams, who made a brief cameo in the Nets' final preseason game, played only 22 minutes in their season-opening loss to the Cavs. He scored seven points with nine dimes and four giveaways, but his stats are secondary to his health. Anyone who drafted him (I'm not among them) knew they were taking a gamble on the health of D-Will's ankles, but with luck his minutes will slowly increase to the point where he's playing 36+ per game.
Paul Pierce came into his Nets' debut suffering from a jammed big toe and he was questionable to play until just before tip-off, but he finished with 17 points, four boards and two assists in 30 minutes, while shooting 3-of-4 from downtown. His primary backup, Andrei Kirilenko, was sidelined by back spasms that have bothered him for the past few weeks. AK traveled with the team and is hopeful to return to action on Friday. Alan Anderson scored nine points and played more minutes than any other reserve, but his playing time will be curtailed when AK returns. Kevin Garnett had a quiet debut with eight points and 10 boards, while Brook Lopez scored 21 points on 9-of-18 shooting, and swatted four shots.
The biggest news prior to this game revolved around Andrew Bynum (knee), who was cleared for limited minutes. He played one stint in the first half, posting three points, three rebounds, two assists and two blocks in a mere eight minutes of action. Is he worth a speculative pickup off the waiver wire? Definitely, but I wouldn't cut anyone with substantial, lasting value for him. His playing time will creep upward slowly and his knees, it should go without saying, will be a constant source of concern.
Tristan Thompson used his new right-handed shot to score a team-high 18 points on 8-of-13 FGs and 2-of-4 FTs, with nine rebounds and zero blocks. So far, so good for the ambidextrous big man. Anderson Varejao's return after missing the bulk of the 2012-13 season was nearly lost in the excitement, but his fantasy owners appreciated a quiet 11 points, eight boards, three assists, one block and zero turnovers. Bynum's return will nudge Varejao's minutes down a bit, but that may not be a bad thing if it reduces the odds of an injury.
The Cavs' SF job went to Earl Clark, as expected, and he notched nine points and eight boards in 27 minutes, while backup Alonzo Gee chipped in seven points in 19 minutes. Mike Brown has been clear that this is an ongoing position battle and he hopes one guy steps up to claim the job permanently, so it's a situation to monitor in the coming weeks.
It was a library-quiet debut for this year's No. 1 pick, Anthony Bennett, who came off the bench for two points and five rebounds in 15 minutes. Tyler Zeller returned from his appendectomy, though if you blinked you missed his scoreless performance in four minutes.
Boston at Toronto
Brad Stevens finally unveiled his opening night starting lineup -- Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace, Brandon Bass, and rookie C Vitor Faverani. Faverani stood out the most with 13 points, three rebounds and three blocks in 27 minutes in the defeat, and his overseas experience should serve him well as he steps into a big role for the neophyte Celtics. Highly touted rookie Kelly Olynyk was less formidable with four points, zero rebounds, zero blocks and three turnovers off the bench. His lack of physicality wasn't an issue while he dominated at Summer League, but it will be relentlessly exposed by NBA teams, another reason Faverani earned the starting nod.
Celtics fans were fretting about Jeff Green's quiet preseason, during which he shot 32 percent from the field, and beat writer A. Sherrod Blakely didn't even consider him a lock to start this game. Green silenced concerns by scoring 25 points with two 3-pointers, five boards, two dimes, one steal, one block and only one turnover. He shot efficiently, got to the FT line nine times, and generally lived up to the billing as Boston's No. 1 option.
Brandon Bass dropped in an efficient 17 points on 6-of-7 FGs and 5-of-5 FTs in 32 minutes. It's important to remember that Jared Sullinger was out due to a one-game suspension. Bass has enough per-minute efficiency to have fantasy value if he flirts with 30 minutes per game, but that's not guaranteed. If you don't care about Bass' stellar FT shooting (86 percent last season, from the PF position), it should be safe to cut him loose.
The PG situation is up in the air until Rajon Rondo returns from ACL surgery. Avery Bradley had eight points, five rebounds, two steals, one block, four assists and four turnovers, while Jordan Crawford posted seven points and five assists in a reserve role. I've never been sold on either guy as a PG, particularly Crawford, but Bradley's potential for steals and 3-pointers (0-of-3 on Wednesday) at least earns him a temporary spot on standard-sized rosters.
Gerald Wallace played 40 minutes and had four steals in this game but otherwise it was a flashback to the 2012-13 season (which is a very bad thing). The veteran, who has been harping on his teammates for a lack of effort all preseason, finished with just three points on one FG attempt, with three rebounds and five turnovers. He's a borderline guy to own until we see flashes of his former athleticism.
Fantasy owners concerned about Kyle Lowry's finger injury were pleased to see him score 11 points with eight assists and two steals in 35 minutes. The torn tendon will require him to wear a splint for six weeks but he'll continue to play without limitations for as long he doesn't drastically aggravate it. The bad news is that Lowry was already a career 41.7 percent shooter coming off a career-worst year from the field, and his taped-up finger isn't going to help those numbers. He finished this game 2-of-8 from the field and 7-of-12 from the FT line, a caveat his owners will have to accept.
Amir Johnson (13 points, three rebounds) played 24 minutes, the same amount of playing time given to Tyler Hansbrough (seven points, 12 boards, three blocks). I own Johnson in a few leagues and I'm not particularly concerned, but I will be if this timeshare continues vs. Atlanta on Friday.