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To Your Panic Stations Please

Three days into the season and it seems everyone has something to be panicked about.

Three days into the NBA season and it feels like we’ve reached the second week of April already. So-called experts are proclaiming teams done (already) whilst fans are frantically panicking about the moves their teams made this offseason and the moves that need to make before February’s trade deadline. And all of this before seven teams have even seen tip-off this year.

Whether it’s the sugary highs of Halloween, the impending confusion of the Presidential election or the stress that Hurricane Sandy swept through the country, something has made this one of the most bizarre openings to an NBA season in recent memory. And it didn’t even take a lockout to mix things up.

In reality, most of these worries, anxieties, fears – call them what you will – will be ironed out given time, unless you’re a fan of the Orlando Magic who look set to be in for a rough ride without the need for a tropical storm descending on the city.

Here’s a look at some of the unnecessary stirrings around the league on this oh so important day four of the NBA season.

The Lakers Are Done

Claim: The Lakers are done. At 0-2, the gold and purple of Los Angeles doesn’t stand a chance this season.

Retort: Hold your horses. You’re declaring a team – any team – dead after two games? This isn’t the NFL and the Lakers certainly aren’t the Jacksonville Jaguars, or worse, the Kansas City Chiefs. With 80 games still to go, the Lakers will probably be okay come the end of the year. And yes, if they lose to the Clippers tonight and go 0-3, they’ll still be okay.

But a team hasn’t started the season 0-2 and won the NBA championship since 1991. So? The Bulls won then; it’s not a stretch to think another side could do the same now. Or do you go with the belief that a team starting 0-2 and finishing 80-2 wouldn’t win the NBA title? The Lakers aren’t going to win 80 games – and they won’t win 73 as Metta World Peace prognosticated – but they’ll win enough to make it to the postseason, and that’s where the real fun starts.

For the record, those two losses have seen the Lakers’ odds of winning the NBA championship fall from 11/4 to 11/2. Quick: to your panic stations.

Harden Will Lead Houston to the Finals

Claim: Did you see James Harden on Wednesday? 37 points and 12 dimes in his Houston debut, and he didn’t even pass to himself. He’s taking Houston skyward right?

Retort: There’s no doubt Harden looked good on the court, but who thought he wouldn’t? There’s a reason Houston was willing to shell out $80 million big ones. But get this clear right now; Harden cannot do that every night. Yes he can score but not that prolifically on a regular basis. Plus, he scored a truckload against the Pistons. Come on people, the Pistons.

Harden’s going to have a good season and it’ll be interesting to watch him play the leading role but Houston has plenty of other issues that could derail the side, not least the fact that Jeremy Lin needs to prove himself.

Let’s see how the Rockets fair against some quality opposition before we declare Harden the M.V.P.

That being said, somebody did take note of the performance: the bookies. Houston saw its odds of winning the title slashed from 150/1 to 100/1 after the game.

Oklahoma City Miss James Harden

Claim: The Thunder lost to the Spurs, who they beat in the playoffs. Trading Harden was a mistake right?

Retort: Trading Harden isn’t the reason the Thunder lost to San Antonio on Thursday night. Even with Harden OKC would have come up short. Why? Because the Spurs are one of the best when it comes to being ready for a season. Whilst other teams need time to warm up (see the Lakers above), the Spurs come ready to play, arthritic bones and all.

Nobody can argue that Gregg Popovich is the best coach in the league right now. His success is built on being able to put a team together, and more times than not the components he adds each year prove well-chosen.

Oklahoma is like the rest of the league: they need time to find a rhythm. Was trading Harden a bad move? Yes. No. Maybe. Only time will tell. Well, time and the play of Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb. For now, consider this: the Thunder is 9/2 to win the NBA championship, which means only Miami and the Lakers are considered better picks. The team is hardly knocking on death’s door.

At this exact moment in time, the only people in Oklahoma City missing Harden are the beard-wearing fans. That’s not to say the team won’t be missing him come January.

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