After countless conference previews, for the East and the West, the opening day for basketball's most popular league has finally arrived, and it featured several intriguing matchups between the usual hunters—conference leaders—and their prey—cellar dwellers or disposed playoff rivals.
But what looked like big-game hunting at the start of the day was brought to a halt by a familiar team. That and many more hog the headlines for Opening Day's triple-header.
THE DETROIT PISTONS SHOCKS THE ATLANTA HAWKS, 105-95
Newly acquired Piston, Marcus Morris, sustained his solid preseason play, finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds. But the real story of the game was shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. KCP, now on his third year, had a game-high 21 points, including 4-of-7 from deep, and hopefully had given a glimpse of what's in store for Detroit fans this season.
We almost forgot: that dude Andre Drummond also dismantled the Atlanta frontcourt of Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Tiago Splitter, particularly on the boards—19 to a combined 16. Is head coach Stan Van Gundy's Motor City overhaul for real?
Stat line of the night: Drummond's 18 points, 19 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks
THE CHICAGO BULL'S 97-95 NAIL-BITTER OVER THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
The Cavaliers basically played catch-up to a Bulls offense at full throttle—care of rookie head coach Fred Hoiberg—for most of the game, and were ultimately doomed by Pau Gasol's block on LeBron, (4 of his 6 swats coming in the 4th).
Stat line of the night: Tristan Thompson's two points (1-4 shooting), 12 rebounds, $82-million-for-five-years contract
STEPHEN CURRY THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS TRUMPS THE NEW ORLEANS PELICANS, 111-95
In a rematch of last year's Western Conference first-round matchup, the Pelicans tried to snatch one on the road from a euphoric championship squad, which had its ring ceremony at home before the game.
Reigning Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry knew he couldn't let that happen.
Chef Curry torched the Pels with 24 first-quarter points—the most for any player during the opening 12 minutes of a season opener in the last 20 years—en route to a commanding 40 points. Just in case doubters need a reminder on why he won the hardware.
It also didn't help that Anthony Davis, who is expected to have another MVP-caliber season, started 1-15 from the floor, smothered by the top tier interior defense of Andrew Bogut, Draymond Green and even Marresse Speights. David did end up with 18 points (10-15 from the line) and three blocks.
Stat line of the night: Curry's 40 points (5-12 from threes), six rebounds, seven assists, two steals (Honorable mention: New Orleans' Kendrick 'The GOAT' Perkins and his 10 points on 5-5 shooting)