BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
The 2011-2012 NBA Season will go down as the one which is a "Work In Progress."
The players and the owners saved their league by not canceling the Christmas Day Games thus preserving a 66-game schedule.
The five Christmas Games Sunday attracted large audiences, with the Chicago Bulls-LA Lakers match-up drawing the third highest preliminary rating for a regular season game on ABC.
The 6.5 overnight rating trailed only a 7.3 for last years hyped showdown featuring the Miami-Heat and Lakers, in addition to a 7.9 rating between Miami and LA in 2004.
Chris Paul's LA Clippers debut against the Golden State Warriors earned a 2.3 overnight rate, which was a 77 percent increase over last year's Golden State--Portland match-up.
The shortened season at Christmas brings a few interesting points.
With a shorter training camp and two pre-season games, it's obvious it will take some teams time to find a regular line-up and build chemistry.
Normally, teams find out in January what they have, but this season, we should know by mid February or early March. A 35 win season during an 82 game schedule now becomes 25-28 wins with a 66-game schedule.
I expect there to be more blowouts during the first couple weeks.
Miami whipped defending champion Dallas 105-94. By halftime, I left the house and ate Chinese Food since this game seemed over before it started by 4 PM.
Oklahoma City, led by Kevin Durant's 30 points cruised to a 97-89 win over the Orlando Magic, while Paul's debut for the upstart LA Clippers produced a 105-86 thrashing over Golden State.
The duo of Paul and Blake Griffin spoiled the coaching debut of former ABC Color Analyst Mark Jackson, who probably wished he was broadcasting this game instead of roaming the sidelines.
Since the NBA Dodged A Bullet by salvaging a 66-game season, I believe the fans will give them a pass for losing just 16 games. Unfortunately, Comcast won't on their cable bills with the NBA Package.
I will give them a pass for the simple reason that with the NFL and College Football seasons peaking in November, in addition to the NHL, who really thinks about Professional Basketball until after Thanksgiving? Nobody cares about College Basketball until December.
That's why the NBA knew that if it lost Christmas Day then they were prepared to cancel the season as the ratings above indicated.
But the agreement was made at the right time. Many people would argue that 82-games is too much and a 66-70 game schedule would be enough. The solution is to eliminate a weak team or two. But we know that would never happen due to the money factor and lost revenues.
If the NBA Players are indeed the best athletes in the world then piling in a lot of games in a shorter period of time will definitely test their conditioning with the back-to-back games in addition to playing three games in a row periodically. But they'll deal with it since they are now collecting paychecks.
The only thing I learned about Christmas Day is next year's champion will be easier to predict.
I won't even put an asterisk by this team. After losing to the Dallas Mavericks in June in South Florida, the Miami Heat (3-0) are poised to win it all this year!
Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh had a quieter off-season therefore and had time to work on their games. They no longer have the "The Dream Team" or "New Big Three" slogans hanging over their heads.
I'm sure James has had a lot of time to rethink "The Decision" and realizes he made a big mistake.
There is nothing more humbling than being a part of a team's championship ceremony especially since they won their title on your home court earlier in the year.
Adding Shane Battier and rookie Norris Cole, a rookie out of Cleveland State, these are players that I expect to make a big contribution for Miami.
What will bother the Cleveland Cavaliers more? James leaving Cleveland or the Cavaliers not drafting a local kid in their backyard that is paired with their legendary traitor.
Instead of listening to music from "The Miami Sound Machine" get ready to watch dominating basketball from "The Miami Pound Machine" in 2012.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and his blog can be also be seen at www.scottsports33.com.
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