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15-Footer, 10/31/13: The Calm After The Storm

Everyone make it through last night okay? Well, not you, Miami. You certainly didn’t.

But everyone else all right? That was an absolute whirlwind of games last night. It was like some sort of tornado of basketball. Like a basketball-nado.

…be right back. I need to call the SyFy Channel. Here, entertain yourself with the 15-Footer. Only two games tonight, so you’ll have plenty of time to catch your breath.

New York Knicks at Chicago Bulls (8:00 PM, TNT)

Derrick Rose probably hoped for a more productive opening night than he had Tuesday against the Heat, but his box score — and Chicago’s loss — wasn’t the big takeaway from that game.

While he wasn’t up to his usual standards, Rose looked healthy. He looked explosive. He made the moves we’re used to seeing from him, attempting to split the aggressive Miami double teams and get to the rim. Doing so is never an easy task, so Rose and the Bulls can be forgiven for their lackluster play. The result wasn’t what they were looking for, but the process of Rose coming back to play was infinitely more important in Chicago’s first game.

The Knicks, on the other hand, looked like a team ready to take care of business in their season opener. Or at least they did through the first three quarters against Milwaukee. Then they relinquished a 25-point lead before Carmelo Anthony and company finally put the Bucks to rest over the final few minutes of a game that became surprisingly tight in the fourth. Tonight, their lack of 3-point shooting relative to last year will be put to the test against a Chicago team that’s fared extremely well against the Knicks lately. New York has lost eight of its previous nine matchups with the Bulls, with or without Derrick Rose.

The Knicks will once again be without J.R. Smith, who’s serving a five-game suspension for violating the league’s anti-drug policy. On the bright side, coach Mike Woodson said yesterday that Andrea Bargnani would likely see more time tonight against the Bulls than he did against the Bucks, as Chicago generally plays a bigger lineup than Milwaukee.

…I didn’t mean on the bright side for you, Knicks fans. I meant for those of us who enjoy watching your team from afar. Good luck!

Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers (10:30 PM, TNT)

One of the best parts of the early season is the ready application of the transitive property of defeat. The Clippers lost to the Lakers in their opener, and the Warriors trounced the Lakers the next night. Therefore, simple math says that the Warriors are leagues better than the Clippers. It’s numbers. You can’t argue with them.

Okay, maybe that’s just slightly ridiculous. But if there was one lesson to be learned from the Clippers’ defeat at the hands of their in-arena rivals, it’s that the defense still has a long way to go before they’re going to be the top outfit many expect them to be. And perhaps the most glaring weakness in Los Angeles on Tuesday night was the Clippers’ inability to keep the Lakers from having their way at the 3-point line.

Which, you know, probably doesn’t bode well against a team like the Warriors that will launch threes from midcourt. In their sleep. While underwater. The Lakers shot 46.8% from downtown against the Clippers. Stephen Curry must see those numbers and salivate. Klay Thompson won’t repeat his stellar performance against the Lakers last night, but it seems likely that Curry won’t be contained as he was against the Lakers, either. Someone’s going to go off from deep for the Warriors tonight. Whether or not the Clippers can limit it to just one supernova, and whether or not they can counteract the artillery fire with a lob show and wing shooting of their own, will determine whether they can keep up with Golden State’s high octane offense.

Never did I think I’d wonder if the Clippers had the offensive firepower to stay with their opponent. The combination of their defensive failings in game one and the Warriors’ shooting got us there.

Andrew Lynch

When God Shammgod created the basketball universe, Andrew Lynch was there. His belief in the superiority of advanced statistics and the eventual triumph of expected value-based analytics stems from the fact that he’s roughly as old as the concept of counting. With that said, he still loves the beauty of basketball played at the highest level — it reminds him of the splendor of the first Olympics — and the stories that spring forth from the games, since he once beat Homer in a game of rock-paper-scissors over a cup of hemlock. Dude’s old.