With the regular season finally starting a week from today, the longest offseason of all-time is almost over. And as we all know that October is 31 days long, the NBA has stuffed 43 games over six days to close out the month – totally impeding on our Halloween costume hunt. Here’s a look at 10 must-see games David Stern and the boys have put together for us in the opening month.
10/26: Miami at Boston
The debut of Miami’s heralded “Big Three,” “1-3-6,” “Miami Thrice,” “3 Live Crew,” or whatever you want to call them, against Boston’s plain ol’ “Big Three.” This game has a “Good Guys vs. Bad Guys” feel to it, but why? Miami is basically Boston 2.0. Boston won in 2008 after trading for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, but there wasn’t nearly as much smoke around that team that was blown up and reconstructed just like the Heat in 2010. I don’t know if it’s the tradition that follows those green jerseys around, or that it’s so easy to hate three guys making a collective $300 million and living on South Beach, but I’d expect much of the country will be cheering for Boston.
10/26: Houston at L.A. Lakers
The reigning champs are ready to make the most under the radar three-peat attempt in history, as No. 24 goes up against the newly dubbed 24-minute man. The Lakers have added Steve Blake and Matt Barnes to their championship roster, and the Rockets are a lot of people’s dark horse title contenders.
10/27: Chicago at Oklahoma City
Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose practiced against each other non-stop over the summer for Team USA, and together led the team to the gold in the FIBA World Championship. What? Oh yeah, Kevin Durant was there too. KD is already the favorite to win MVP this year, that arena in OKC gets pretty rowdy and the Thunder are really hungry. Too bad Boozer won’t see any time in this one.
10/27: Boston at Cleveland
The first game in Cleveland’s post-apocalyptic, I mean, post-LeBron era. It’ll be interesting to see the fan turnout. Let’s not kid ourselves, they won’t be good, but it’d be cool to see the city really get behind this team. It’s not like the Cavs didn’t try to keep LeBron, they did everything they could (except make it warmer and build a lot of clubs). Also, this may be the first time ever that “Shaq Returns” isn’t a major storyline.
10/28: Washington at Orlando
It seems like everyone in Orlando is tired of hearing about the other Florida team, from Dwight Howard to Stan Van Gundy. And now they’ll get tired of hearing about John Wall. Was I talking about fast guards before with Westbrook and Rose? He’s the fastest. Wall makes his NBA regular season debut against the Magic, and the Magic make their debut in the new Amway Center. But the Magic are the best team that nobody talks about, and the addition of Q-Rich brings some much needed toughness to the squad. The Eastern Conference is a toss-up between Miami, Boston and Orlando.
10/28: Phoenix at Utah
The Suns lost Amar’e, and the Jazz lost Boozer. I’m not sure how bad this is for either of these teams. The Jazz replaced Boozer with Al Jefferson, and he’s going to get good numbers and should fit right into Jerry Sloan’s system. The Jazz also picked up former Sun Raja Bell. It should be really interesting to see how Steve Nash’s year goes without Stoudemire, and Nash vs. Deron Williams is one of my favorite matchups in the NBA.
10/29: Denver at New Orleans
This game features two players that were followed by a lot of trade rumors. Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul both allegedly wanted to be traded, then they didn’t. Knicks fans were really excited, then were crushed. This game was about to be really bad, but now it’s not.
10/29: Cleveland at Toronto
That’s right, Cleveland makes two appearances. No team is more intriguing this year. Desertion by a homegrown superstar, crazy ex-girlfriend letter from the owner and new uniforms! Now they play the team that has it just as bad as them. Toronto also lost their franchise player, their GM Bryan Colangelo ripped Bosh when he left, but no new jerseys. Almost identical. When was the last time two teams lost their best player to the same team?
10/30: Portland at New York
The Knicks gave Amar’e Stoudemire a five-year, $100 million dollar contract over the summer. Last year, the Blazers gave LaMarcus Aldridge a five-year, $65 million dollar extension. Who got the better deal? Amar’e is a better player, more explosive, more dominant, but the Knicks basically just latched the fate of the franchise onto him. The Blazers are a better team, and it’s unfair to make this comparison because Aldridge isn’t their marquee player.
10/31: Dallas at L.A. Clippers
Dallas is stacked. Just on sheer depth, they should at least have a shot at taking down the Lakers this year. But don’t sleep on the other L.A. team. Blake Griffin is ready to play, he’s a beast, and he’ll make an immediate impact. Baron Davis is getting back to form, Kaman is solid, Eric Gordon can shoot and rookie Eric Bledsoe is going to make a splash. This game is going to show the NBA these aren’t the same Clippers we’re used to seeing.
What do you think? What games are you most excited to see this October? Are you going to any?
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