If you’re having a bad Monday, I hate to tell you, but, the Monday Night Football Game will not be very good (and I’m a Rams fan). If you can make it to tomorrow night, then I have some good news. The NBA is officially back.
The Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic will officially kick off the 2013-14 NBA season at 7 PM ET, but the real fun starts at 8. The defending champion Miami Heat will start their title defense against Derrick Rose and the Bulls. Stick around to see the battle for LA at 10:30. Here’s 10 things to look for during the night:
1. Victor Oladipo-
The Orlando Magic selected Victor Oladipo 5th in the 2013 draft, and he is a stud. He’s my choice for Rookie of the Year. He has looked good in Summer League and preseason, but the regular season is a different animal. They will be trying him at point guard throughout this season, and it will be interesting to see if he can become a great player. It all starts for him tomorrow.
2. The Pacers’ new bench-
The Pacers had one of the worst benches in the NBA last season, and it would plague them. Having 3 or 4 guys who can hold down the fort while the starters get rest can become a valuable asset in today’s NBA. The Pacers added C.J. Watson, Luis Scola, and Chris Copeland to help their reserve department. It will be interesting to see if these guys can add energy for a team who can lack offense at times, and if Scola and Copeland will buy in to the defensive scheme that Frank Vogel has. On paper, they are much improved, but paper has played 0 minutes in the NBA.
3. The Heat’s 456725th alternate uniform-
The Heat will wear warmups and jerseys with gold lettering and trimming tomorrow night to celebrate their championship. It seems as if the Heat have 3000 different uniforms to wear, but hey, it’s pretty cool. It will be cool to see these uniforms for the first and only time.
4. Dwyane Wade’s health-
All reports coming out of Miami say that Dwyane Wade is healthy, and that he has gotten younger during the off-season. He has struggled with knee problems the last few seasons, but he is proclaiming that he is healthy. If Wade really is healthy, then he could help the Heat win a third straight title. It’ll be interesting to see how he attacks, and how he moves on the floor.
5. Greg Oden-
Greg Oden played only 4 minutes in the preseason, but those were huge minutes. The Heat are being extremely cautious with Oden, so the fact that they let him play showed a lot. We will see if Oden can log NBA minutes again, and if he’s ready to go on opening night. I doubt they use him, but we could see the former number 1 pick.
6. Derrick Rose-
The Return is finally happening. Rose missed 18 months with a torn ACl, and he is finally back. He has looked like his old self during the preseason, but we will see if he can carry that over. Rose can help a Bulls team that has a chance to win the East, but he will need to play at the MVP level he played before. Rose will need to work some more rust off, but it will be a great night of basketball in part because of him.
7. The Lakers without Kobe-
The Lakers are starting a season without Kobe Bryant. It’s going to be a strange sight in Los Angeles. He is officially out for the opener, so we will have to wait to see how he will return from the Achilles injury. The Lakers still have some good players, but this team will be a mess defensively. You can bet that Nick Young will shoot a lot, and expect to see a lot of Jordan Farmar. Steve Nash’s health has come in to question, and he has missed the mystic Phoenix training staff. It’ll be how this team of misfits will play tomorrow.
8. Doc Rivers-
Doc Rivers has put himself on the NBA coaching map. He won a title in Boston, and he is now regarded as one of the best coaches in the NBA. He will be at the helm of a really talented team, and his impact will be something to look for. This will be another strange sight.
9. DeAndre Jordan as a defensive anchor-
DeAndre Jordan is a 7 footer who is a freak athlete, but he hasn’t reached his full potential yet. Under Rivers, he has been given the responsibility of anchoring a team who fell apart on defense late in games last season. He has looked good in the preseason, but this is the real deal. He has the confidence to take the next step, and it starts tomorrow.
10. Craig Sager-
There are traditions in the NBA, that all fans expect to see. Though we won’t see Kobe on opening night, we will see Craig Sager. The two national games are on TNT, which means we get to see the zany suit that Sager will wear. He is now a staple in NBA coverage, and the NBA will be officially back when we see the suit of Craig Sager on the sideline.