October 30, 2012
The 2012-13 NBA season has officially arrived. Tuesday night has the new basketball season kicking off with three exciting games, with the Los Angeles Lakers naturally headlining the season-opening night in the final game of the night.
Not surprisingly, the NBA also has the Miami Heat against the Boston Celtics, while the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers go to battle, and the Lakers take on the Dallas Mavericks.
Tonight’s matchups consist of at least three teams that could be very much in the thick of the race for the NBA Finals in June, and another (Dallas) that should at least contend for the playoffs.
It should be an exciting opening night, so let’s get down to the brass tax and analyze and pick these three NBA games:
Washington Wizards @ Cleveland Cavaliers (7:00 pm ET on CSW and FSOH)
The night gets started with a battle between two bottom feeders, although this game could still be worth tuning into due to Kyrie Irving and Cleveland rookie Dion Waiters.
The Wizards will miss John Wall (knee) greatly in this one, while A.J. Price and a band of mediocre Wizards get the start against the Cavs. Washington hasn’t been a good road team, and they’re unlikely to get this year started off on the right foot without their best player.
I’m also going to be watching the development of big man Tristan Thompson, and it will also be worth checking out to see how they use rookie big man Tyler Zeller. Ultimately, Cleveland is a slightly better team and has all of their players on the floor ronight.
I’ll take the Cavs, 99-85
Boston Celtics @ Miami Heat (8:00 pm ET on TNT)
The veteran Celtics and the defending champion Miami Heat square off in a tantalizing battle of two teams that met in the post-season last year. The biggest story-line has to be former Boston swing man Ray Allen now donning the Heat uniform, as he joined the Celtic’s bitter rivals over the summer.
Allen will come off the bench for Miami and try to fill it up from long range, while his former teammates, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett, try to give Miami as tough a time as possible. Jason Terry picks up where Allen left off in Boston’s rotation, but the guys to watch will be the big men for Boston – particularly Jeff Green and rookie Jared Sullinger. Sullinger was once a top-five draft pick prospect, but slid to the Celtics and could end up being quite a steal. Green sat out all of last year with a heart condition, but is immensely talented and could bring something on offense for Boston that few really see coming.
In the end, this should be a very close game, but I think we all saw something change in LeBron James last year, and I doubt he suddenly turns back to a passive player. He’ll control this game from the tip-off, and I like the Heat a lot at home.
Give me Miami in a barn burner, 98-97.
Dallas Mavericks @ Los Angeles Lakers (10:30 pm ET on TNT)
The last contest of the night rightfully ends on the West Coast, where the new-look Lakers are ready to steam-roll a Mavericks team sans Dirk Nowitzki (knee).
Dallas isn’t a complete slouch without their main scoring machine, but they may not prove much of a match for Los Angeles on the road. Unless, of course, rumors turn into reality and Kobe Bryant’s ailing foot keeps him from starting the season opener.
His status is very much in the air, but even if he does miss the game, the Lakers still have a fabulous trio in Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard to rely on. It may take the Lakers a while to fully sync up and turn into the title contender everyone thinks they now can be, but I doubt they’ll come out flat enough to fall to a short-handed Mavericks squad.
Look for Dallas to give the Lakers a fight early, but fall apart once they can’t close it without Dirk late in the game. I’ll take the Lakers, 98-86.