A: Miami HeatHoly Ghost of Christmas Fast Break. It was a total show by the Heat, who basically pummeled the Mavericks in every way possible. Maybe it was motivation, maybe it was a revenge factor or maybe it was just the fact the Heat are the best team in the league, but Miami bulldozed their way over the champs and did it in style. LeBron James showcased his revamped post game, rookie Norris Cole showed exciting flashes, Dwyane Wade was excellent the Heat suffocated the Mavs. If you want a signature opening win, the Heat made an early statement.
B: The NBACliche, boring high mark for the league? You know it. But it's deserving. And not just because there was real basketball to be played after a longer-than-normal offseason. The league gets a good grade because its product looked excellent. For all the talk about shortened training camps and fewer practices, the NBA had two fantastic finishes in New York and Los Angeles, the Heat looked amazing, the Thunder played a quality game and the Clippers and Warriors both were good in the capper. There weren't many moments where the game turned to a total slopfest. The only guy looking that rusty was ref Bill Kennedy, who evidently needs a few more practices.
C: Lob CityIt wasn't showtime or Lob City at all. It was just solid winning basketball. Bor-ing. It's really not fair to give the Clippers an average grade when they went on the road and won by 19 in a tough environment. But for about 40 minutes of the game, Lob City looked a bit mediocre with Chauncey Billups shooting them both in, and out, of the game at times. You saw what makes the Clips so darn good (Chris Paul coming in and completely closing out the Warriors -- he gets an A) and what makes them vulnerable (lack of depth, iffy shot selection and a conflict of roles -- also known as Chauncey Billups, who gets a D). The Clippers are probably more deserving of a B, but I don't think many came away feeling overly impressed by them Sunday.
Kendrick Perkins completely handled Howard. Now I haven't watched Howard up close all that much, but I would say he looked a bit uninterested for stretches in this game. For a player as dominant as him, there's no reason for him to be such a non-factor. Perkins is a really good defender, but Howard didn't affect the game defensively at all.