The long-awaited NBA regular season is finally here, tipping-off with some high-profile opening day games, including the Heat vs. Celtics and the Lakers vs. Mavericks. Who will get out to a 1-0 start in the East and in the West? We will find out today as we get to experience real NBA basketball for the first time in almost a year.
Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers
Two teams that spend most of last season as bottom-feeders will look to begin their 2012-2013 campaign with a win in the first game of the NBA schedule. Washington will go without star guard John Wall, who will miss up to a month with knee issues, but the Cavs will have their young star, last year’s rookie of the year, Kyrie Irving, who just had his wisdom teeth removed this week. It should be a pretty even matchup and we should expect a little rust for these teams who will both field young squads in an early season game.
Washington will also be without center Nene as well and its other big man, Emeka Okafor is listed as day-to-day, so he may be a game time decision. With so many early season injuries and the fact that they are on the road, I don’t imagine the Wizards starting off this year with a win against Cleveland. Look for the Cavs to cover the -5.5 point spread today.
Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers
Another gamed that will be marred be injury is the matchup between Dallas and LA at the Staples Center. Dirk Nowitzki is out, also with knee problems, and Kobe Bryant will be a game-time decision with a bruised and strained right foot. Dwight Howard is expected to make his regular season debut as a Laker tonight, but he did most the majority of training camp and the preseason while still recovering from back surgery. If he does play, expect reduced minutes.
What’s interesting here is that the Lakers are obvious favorites, at home and with all their talented additions such as Howard and Steve Nash, but they did go 0-8 in the preseason and although that doesn’t mean anything in the standing right now, the fact is they still haven’t won a game.
Dallas won’t be that strong without Nowitzki, but I expect them to come in to Staples and play hard. Reserves should get some valuable time and if they do value it, they will play well enough to cover the +8.5 point spread. And if Kobe doesn’t play, the Mavs may win outright.
Boston Celtics at Miami Heat
The defending NBA champions will defend their home floor in what may be the most anticipated game of the night as the Heat take on the visiting Celtics. The Heat are 9/4 favorites to repeat as champs, odds that were certainly bolstered after acquiring former Celtic star, the sharp-shooting Ray Allen.
The Celtics will bring in their returning stars Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce to challenge the champs, but they will also show off their new addition, former Mavs guard, Jason Terry.
These teams, who met in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals, always matchup well, so it should be a close game either way. The bullseyes will be on the back of each Miami jersey, but that’s something the Heat are used to by now. Miami is favored by 6.5 points and I like them to win here, but I think the game will come down to one or two possessions, so take Boston to cover +6.5 on the road. These games are always close and since it’s the first game of the season, don’t expect LeBron and Co. to be on their A game just yet.