For those wondering, 42.01 = Season 42, Game 01.
I've tried to start a traditional post-game thread of my own a la Peck's Odd Thoughts at least once before, so this is definitely a "wait and see" situation as to whether I can bring this together 82 times a year. Since it's a positive slant on things, I'm hoping it will prove to boost my motivation to keep going all season long.
Anyway, on with the thread.
Brandon Rush. I loved how he was not afraid to take it to the hoop. I thought he would just float around the perimeter, but once he got the ball, he didn't just jack up shots or pass around the perimeter, he went to the hole and that's a great sign for a rookie.
Speaking of which, this is something I liked about the entire team tonight. We didn't just chuck up 3's. Not by a long shot. No, we made an obvious, deliberate effort to attack the basket, and it showed in our free throw attempts tonight. Very, very happy to see this. Sure, there were times where we were patient to a fault, and the turnovers were maddening, but I loved the fact that our offense looked focused on getting into the paint and not settling for 3 point shots off of a pass from another perimeter player. This will be huge if it's something we can keep up all season long.
Back to Rush. Anyone else pleased as punch that this kid can play that good defense from game 1 of his career? I was always happy to see him on the defensive side of the floor because aside from some mistakes, he looked great out there. Good position, used his length, kept good position, and contested shots. Very happy about this. Really all around I was pretty thrilled with our rookie wingman tonight. Just wait until he starts bombing some 3's, too.
Hibbert. Barely played, but bonus points for making a sweet, sort of quick move that a guy like him (one would think) has no business making, yet he did and he scored off of it. I saw him attempt this same move in the preseason, and I think when the D gives him an island on his man, he will surprise people with his ability to get a few buckets 1-on-1. I know it's disappointing to not see him more, but Detroit's big men are just not a good match for him; especially as a rookie.
Danny Granger. Holy cow. I often thought to myself that Danny is a guy who shows up most often when he views the situation to be a big one. That showed tonight with an very, very good effort. Would like to see some assists, but otherwise there was not much to complain about because he was doing a terrific job at attacking the hoop. This is HUGE for Danny. I'm talking "turning yet another corner" huge.
He's driving, he's getting fouled, and he's finishing at a respectable clip. If this becomes his game, I expect his scoring to go up by 5+ points from last year, and he'll likely see his FG% go up as well. It's also very important because it will leave him a little bit more open from 3 when his defender doesn't know what to expect (before now, Danny took way too many jumpshots).
I liked our new PGs and starting center. While I would have liked to have seen more good things from all of them, they all showed some positives tonight that contrast with our horrible situation last year at these spots. I liked the fact that when Jack was in the game, Chauncy didn't feel like he was on the verge of erupting offensively. He was pretty quiet tonight, but I thought Jack did a good job of staying with him, being physical, and not fouling.
I liked that Marquis' shot looks better from the outside. He didn't torch anybody, but when he shoots a 3 now, it no longer makes me want to scream.
Finally, I liked that we looked like a team that had a legitimate shot to win tonight against a good team. We played hard, we played (kinda) smart, we showed some real positives tonight. Some of the mistakes were head-scratchers, but others looked clearly to be the result of not having team chemistry on the floor yet.
Frankly, I feel encouraged. I think this team has a chance.