The NBA season officially tips off in T-minus five hours. You’ve picked your fantasy team, you bought your league pass, now it’s time to play some ball. Tonight there are four games scheduled – two of which are on national TV. We took the liberty to hit you with previews and predictions for each contest.
Celtics at Cavs: The first of the TNT double-header, this match up between two of the East’s powerhouses should be a thriller. Could this be a sneak preview of the Eastern Conference Championship? The ’08 champs are back and in full force (minus Big Baby’s dumb a**) and come into the Q to face LeBron and the Cavs (minus Delonte West’s dumb a**). Expect King James to have a monster game and Shaq to have a solid debut. Also expect Shaq to give Kendrick Perkins the business tonight. Boston’s big three will get theirs, but it will be the C’s bench that will make the difference in tonight’s match up. Prediction: Celtics win by three in regulation.
Wizards at Mavs: The return of Gilbert Arenas finally arrives. After two years of battling injuries, Arenas is looking to bring back the Wizards to the playoffs. Although the roster looks solid on paper, the Wizards will have to go at least a month without Antawn Jamison, who has a shoulder injury. Washington has a tough opening night contest against the Mavs, who have improved over last season. Shawn Marion should benefit from having Jason Kidd feeding him the ball. If the Mavs keep everyone involved and start hitting the three ball, then expect this game to get away from the Wizards in the third quarter. Prediction: Mavs by nine.
Rockets at Blazers: So much is expected out of the Blazers this year. They are coming off a 54 win season and they added Andre Miller during the offseason. Now that they have a playoff series under their belt, there are no more inexperience excuses. Tonight they face the team that eliminated them in the first round of the playoffs. The Rockets added Trevor Ariza in the offseason, but lost Ron Artest and are without T-Mac and Yao to start the season. Expect Portland to get revenge for the playoffs and route the Rockets. Prediction: Portland wins by 11.
Clippers at Lakers: We stated yesterday that the Clippers could be a playoff team if they stayed healthy. Key word: healthy. Maybe we jinxed it because it was announced yesterday that star rookie Blake Griffin will miss the first 4-6 weeks due to a knee injury. No doubt, the Kobe and Co. will probably win the first battle of the L.A. squads, but I expect the Clippers to throw up a fight. They had a good preseason and Baron is said to be back to all-star form. Plus, Ron Artest is still adjusting to the triangle offense. Prediction: Lakers by five.