The highly-anticipated 2019-20 NBA season blasted off on Tuesday night and the battle for Los Angeles is already at a playoff pitch. The Lakers’ loss already has everyone panicking with 81 games still to go in the season. Zion Williamson‘s absence in the New Orleans Pelicans’ lineup will continue to make them a terrible watch.
Here are 3 TSL Takeaways from NBA season-opening action.
Kawhi Stole Lebron’s Heart
The minute LA Clippers star Kawhi Leonard carried the Toronto Raptors on his back to the 2018-19 NBA Championship and LeBron failed to get the young Lakers into the playoffs, media mouths started anointing Leonard as the game’s premier player.
Last night, they met on opening night and it appeared as if Kawhi wanted all the smoke and LeBron wanted none of it. Bron was cool with scoring 18 points and just missing a triple-double. The NBA Finals MVP dropped an efficient 30 points in 32 minutes and led LA to a 112-102 win — without Paul George.
Kawhi Leonard's Debut With The Clippers!
A lot of reminders of 90s MJpic.twitter.com/t53BvPD8p6
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) October 23, 2019
“LeBron let me down in ways I never thought he ever would in his NBA career,” said ESPN’s Stephen Smith.
The sports radio and TV shows and the social media moshpit is blasting LeBron right now. They are calling him old and unmotivated and praising Leonard like a basketball God.
How quickly the times change. With this loss, the media bashing and last week’s China fiasco, LeBron is off to a rough start.
Don’t Sleep On Toronto
Kawhi Leonard is gone, but the Raptors are still a problem for Eastern Conference teams. The club invested four, years and $130 million in a Pascal Siakam extension earlier this month. And last night, against the Zion Williamson-less New Orleans Pelicans, Siakam didn’t disappoint, dropping 34 points and grabbed 18 boards.
When you look at the boxscore and see that Pascal Siakam has 34 points and 18 rebounds. pic.twitter.com/MzgFbk2SlY
— theScore (@theScore) October 23, 2019
Unheralded Fred Vanvleet, who introduced himself to the world with some clutch NBA Finals play, had a career-high 34 points.
Toronto may not be championship-caliber but they still have a super solid team without Leonard and the playoff experience of last season has put a battery in the back of their young players to take it to another level.
Let’s not forget wily veteran Kyle Lowery, who also secured a recent bag and he is continuing to do what he does, adding 22 points and 6 assists to the mix.
Same Old Zo
Even with Zion out and the opportunity to put up more shots staring him in the face, an offensively passive Lonzo Ball managed just 8 points on 2-of-7 shooting. The world has been waiting for Ball to improve offensively. We constantly see social media clips of him shooting and draining shots, but it doesn’t translate to the actual games.
Lonzo Ball got benched tonight after going 2-6 and having only 8 PTS pic.twitter.com/eFjgna2v1G
— NBA Memes (@NBAMemes) October 23, 2019
Long way to go, but the NBA has been instantly entertaining so far.