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The Skip Pass: Kawhi Leonard blows up the Warriors

AP Photo/Ben Margot
AP Photo/Ben Margot

The Skip Pass will be your home on Today’s Fastbreak for insights and nuggets on each game played in the NBA. This is different from your regular game recap or box score. We want to take you inside the game and call out things you might have missed.

Focus Games: Knicks at Cavaliers and Spurs at Warriors

Other Games: Jazz at Trail Blazers

Cavaliers 117 – Knicks 88

Cavaliers:

  • LeBron James made it look easy with his 43rd career triple-double. His passing was on point all night long.
  • Iman Shumpert got the backup PG minutes behind Kyrie Irving before sustaining a possible concussion. DeAndre Liggins then drew some minutes the rest of the way.
  • The Cavaliers switched almost everything on defense. This forced the Knicks to scramble, and they failed to take advantage of mismatches.
  • Tristan Thompson played very good defense. Both on his man and in switches. He’s the key to the Cavaliers defensive structure.
  • Cleveland moved the ball well all night with 31 assists on 45 field goals. Multiple possessions included multiple touches by all the players on the floor.

Knicks:

  • Kristaps Porzingis may already be the Knicks best player. He looked good on both ends. Should have had more looks, but his teammates looked off him on several plays.
  • Jeff Hornacek loves to run dual PG lineups, but Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings might not be the best fit together. Neither is a shooter, and both like to attack.
  • Rose/Porzingis pick and roll action wasn’t nearly as effective as Jennings/Porzingis. Jennings found Porzingis for several jumpers, while Rose was in straight attack mode.
  • Joakim Noah looked good. He was very active on defense and drew several charges. The challenge for Noah will be how many minutes he can handle.
  • Whenever Porzingis and Noah were out of the game, the Knicks rim protection was non-existent.

Spurs 129 – Warriors 100

Spurs:

  • Kawhi Leonard is great. He’s an MVP candidate. Truly great two-way player.
  • Kyle Anderson drew the start for the injured Danny Green. He fits in well with the Spurs offense because of his basketball IQ and passing ability.
  • In a game where everyone played well, Jonathon Simmons was one of the stars of the contest. He was great on both ends of the floor. His athleticism is something the Spurs can really use off the bench.
  • Despite not having an offensive impact DeWayne Dedmon gave San Antonio what they signed him for with good defense and rebounding.
  • The Spurs won in a blowout, but it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. The Warriors were able to take advantage of both Tony Parker and Paul Gasol at times. Putting them in pick and roll actions was particularly effective. This is something the Spurs will need to tighten up.
  • The Spurs bench was dominant, and production was spread across each player. They overwhelmed an overmatched Warriors second unit all game long.

Warriors:

  • Kevin Durant had a good debut despite the loss. His offense is a known quantity, but where he’ll be a big upgrade over Harrison Barnes is on the defensive end. His length will lead to a lot of blocks, deflections and steals.
  • Zaza Pachulia wasn’t up to the task tonight for the Warriors. He isn’t the passer that Andrew Bogut is and that gummed up the offense at times. On the other end, he’s a solid rebounder but offers no rim protection. That puts additional pressure on Durant and Draymond Green.
  • The Warriors bench struggled. The depth with Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and David West is good. Beyond those three? It’s questionable at best.
  • There will be a lot of hot takes about the Warriors loss, in blowout fashion none the less, but they’ll be fine. They missed a lot of makeable shots and were sloppy with the ball. Those things will get cleaned up.

Trail Blazers 113 – Jazz 104

Trail Blazers:

  • Damian Lillard dominated to the fashion of 39 points, nine rebounds and six assists. He overcame early foul trouble to play a terrific opener.
  • Noah Vonleh gave the Blazers a big lift off the bench with 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting in 16 minutes.
  • Evan Turner struggled with his shot but had five rebounds and five assists to go along with a steal and a block. He played very good defense in the second half as well, giving Portland a bigger body to throw against Hood and Johnson.
  • Overall, the Blazers were excellent offensively. They need to tighten up some things on defense, but the offense will carry them most nights.

Jazz

  • The shorthanded Jazz were without Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Alec Burks.
  • Joe Johnson had a terrific debut for Utah with 29 points, including a big third quarter.
  • Rodney Hood looked up to the task of being the primary scorer while Hayward is out with 26 points. He also did a lot of ball handling through the night.
  • George Hill gave the Jazz everything they needed at the PG spot on both ends. He’s a massive upgrade over the non-starters the Jazz used all of last season.
  • Dante Exum returned to regular season action after missing all of last year. He didn’t put up big numbers, but the burst was there, and he looked confident.

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