And we’re here. Opening Week.
It would be hard for me to advise you to not watch any particular game during Week One of the 2013-14 NBA season. You know, the whole new car smell thing. There appears to only be one match-up of two tanking teams in the coming week (Utah at Phoenix on Friday night), and for that we can be thankful.
But we’re not only watching the national games, although the slate looks to be pretty solid. Here’s hoping you’ve already subscribed to NBA League Pass (Early Bird pricing!). The following are the games that I’m going to be sure to watch, followed by which national station is carrying the game, if any:
The first game of the brand new NBA season (Okay, not really. Orlando at Indiana technically starts an hour earlier, but that just means that the Magic are starting the tank-off faster than anyone else.) is a doozy. An apparently mostly full-strength Derrick Rose on the court in Miami to take on the defending, back-to-back NBA champs? Yes, please.
If the LeBron-Rose match-up isn’t enough to get you to tune in, how about coach Tom Thibodeau stingy defense attempting to slow down Miami’s high-octane attack? This one should be a lot of fun, and is a great way to kickoff the week.
Our first glance at the new-look Nets should be a lot of fun, taking on Kyrie’s crew in each team’s season opener. The ‘Q’ should be rockin’, and we’ll get our first chance to see this year’s first overall pick Anthony Bennett in action. Irving will be excited to have Anderson Varajeo back, along with rookies Sergey Kerasev and Bennett running the floor with him. The contrast between the ancient Nets and the young, hungry Cavs should be make for intriguing television.
This will be Golden State’s first big road test since their entertaining run to the second round of the playoffs. The consensus seems to be that they’ll be contenders this year, but they also have their fair share of doubters, myself included.
The Clippers, on the other hand, are absolutely bonafide contenders, and it will be fun to get a look at their revamped perimeter shooting. Their starting lineup (Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan) is as good as any in the entire NBA.
A Russell Westbrook-less Thunder squad will travel to Minnesota to take on their latest challenger for the Northwest Division title. After Denver and Utah have both taken steps back, the Timberwolves appear to be Oklahoma City’s nearest in-division threat. And let’s not forget: OKC-MIN games rarely disappoint.
It will be interesting to see if Kevin Durant can shoulder the entire load in OKC without forfeiting his legendary efficiency. At the same time, there simply isn’t much surrounding him outside of Serge Ibaka. Without Westbrook, the match-up against the Wolves is tough. It’s also our chance to see a finally mostly healthy Wolves squad, and especially the Ricky Rubio-Kevin Love tandem that famously only played 18 minutes together last season.
Portland is another young squad that is attempting to crack the top-eight in the Western Conference. They won’t have an easy road ahead of them, but a home win against the defending conference champs would be an encouraging start.
San Antonio, on the other hand, is a year older. After Manu Ginobili showed clear signs of age, wear, and tear in the NBA Finals this past June, the Spurs are looking as vulnerable as they have in a while. Then again, it feels like we say this every single fall. Kawhi Leonard has emerged as a potential star alongside Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan should remain effective if last year’s playoff run was any indication.
The Celtics are tanking, of course, but there’s some things in Beantown that we should still keep an eye on. From Avery Bradley’s development to the still-intriguing Jeff Green to fascinating rookie Kelly Olynyk, the Celtics have a few storylines to keep an eye on. Throw in rookie head coach Brad Stevens making the leap from the Butler Bulldogs to the head coach of the legendary Celtics, and there are a few reasons to watch early in the season.
The new-look Pistons should be a ton of fun, as Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith will get the chance to run with Chauncey Billups, rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and the punishing post duo of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. They’ll be one of the most entertaining League Pass teams to watch, and the early season feeling-out period for chuckers like Jennings and Smith should make for some fun television.
Topics: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Lebron James, Miami Heat, Minnesota TImberwolves, NBA, NBA On TNT, Oklahoma City Thunder, Ricky Rubio