The defending champions, Golden State Warriors hosted a new-look Houston Rockets team at the Oracle Arena. The Warriors received their championship rings in a simple awarding ceremony before the game got underway. Houston traded for Chris Paul in the off-season and a pairing with All-Star James Harden.
The champs led for most of the game but lost Draymond Green in the fourth quarter with a strained knee. The Rockets took advantage of the loss the Warriors’ best defender and turned up the heat. The game went down the wire. The Rockets were up by one point, 122-121 when Kevin Durant hoisted a Hail Mary 3-pointer which went in. Unfortunately, the ball had not parted with his hands when the clock expired, and just like that, the Rockets upset the champions in their own court.
The other game was between Eastern Conference rivals, the Boston Celtics, and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both teams were intertwined recently as they swapped in players in a blockbuster trade involving Kyrie Irving. Emotions were running high leading up to this revenge-game grudge match. Words were spoken and feelings were stirred up as players were interviewed in the media. In the end, this storyline had a positive outcome. In the spirit of sportsmanship and respect. Irving warmly greeted his former teammates with the pre-game handshakes they once shared. He even hugged it out with former Alpha-dog teammate, LeBron James. Animosity was set aside and it was all about the game.
Not everything was all about hugs and warm feelings in this game though.
Five minutes into the first quarter Gordon Hayward suffered a devastating injury. He landed awkwardly and dislocated his ankle and fractured his tibia. Hayward had to be carried off the court in a stretcher. The Celtics’ young players, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown stepped up and valiantly played their hearts out. In the end, the Cavs prevailed 99-102. LeBron James dominated the game as he flirted with a triple-double, scoring 29 points, pulling down 16 points and dishing out nine assists.
This was an opening night for the Ages and both an ominous and auspicious start to 2017-18. More basketball. More drama. More excitement is yet to come.